Beyond its important mission of "caring for those who have served in our nation's military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors," the work of today's U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is guided by a strategic plan that lays out agency goals to be achieved through 2028. The projects the VA initiates over the coming years will support the following goals:
Consistently communicate with customers and partners to assess and maximize performance, evaluate needs, and build long-term relationships and trust
Deliver timely, accessible, and high-quality benefits, care, and services
Build and maintain trust through proven stewardship, transparency, and accountability
Strive toward excellence in all business operations--including governance, systems, data, and management
Several recent programs illustrate the commitment that the VA has to meeting and exceeding these goals by 2028 and beyond.Continue reading →
With so much of our activity and interaction being digital, the Internet is now a utility nearly as critical to daily functioning as heat or water. Inequitable access to broadband Internet access became quickly apparent during the pandemic lock down when kids lacked access to virtual school and adults were unable to complete work from their homes. Increasing broadband access is a key part of the bipartisan infrastructure law and is also supported by the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. This funding is a huge step in rolling out broadband access nationwide, but there are many questions that need to be addressed to truly close the digital divide.
Where: Defining the Need
To effectively provide broadband, the government has to know where exactly it is needed. The Federal Communications Commission's broadband fabric map shows where fixed broadband access could be installed and has recently added more than one million new locations as well as removed over 1 million that were found to be mapped to structures such as garages and sheds. Being able to differentiate if an address is a residential or commercial building, a large property housing multiple families, or simply a storage shed is critical to ensuring that new broadband access is provided where it is actually needed. Agencies are working to combine this type of contextual data with the address mapping data to better plan broadband roll outs.Continue reading →
In the last 12 months, more than 769,000 cybersecurity jobs were posted in the United States. Unfortunately, there are not enough trained cyber professionals to meet this need across government and private industry, but the roles need to be filled. A report issued by theGovernment Accountability Office(GAO) in late 2021 named the cybersecurity skills gap as aleading cause of risk for Federal agencies. To meet this need and risk head-on, the government is coming up with creative ways to fill cyber positions.
The DoD had been looking to set up military-style academies focused on cyber education; however, the direction has shifted in the latest National Defense Authorization Act. The latest proposal recommends establishing a DOD Cyber and Digital Service Academy within existing universities and colleges. This means that students studying certain cyber and digital service disciplines could receive up to five years of tuition and room and board. In exchange, recipients would agree to work for the DoD for the same number of years that they received the scholarship. This is not unprecedented. The National Science Foundation's CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program has been in place since 2000. It has placed over 4,500 people in government organizations including DoD, the National Security Agency and state and local governments in return for their scholarship.Continue reading →
Equity is highlighted in priority two of the President's Management Agenda (PMA), Delivering Excellent, Equitable, and Secure Federal Services and Customer Experience, and is a theme throughout all PMA priorities. Disaster response is possibly the most critical place to ensure equity. While a disaster does level the playing field in some ways-no matter how much money you have it won't stop a tornado from hitting your house-the recovery from disasters is not as fairly distributed.
A 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that disaster response is "uneven" across the country. The research found that small towns, rural and tribal areas, and underserved and disadvantaged communities have a hard time accessing federal disaster recovery assistance programs. Those that did access funds had difficulty achieving a full recovery with structures still damaged years later. A key to solving this gap? Data.Continue reading →
With many of us using our faces to "open" our phones, biometric technology has become an everyday consumer technology. Capitalizing on the comfort and ease of use of facial recognition, government agencies are looking to incorporate it (and other biometric methods) into their modern cybersecurity plans and approaches but are realizing implementation in a government setting raises a host of complications.