Charting a Course to Ensure Security in the Stars


Cybersecurity plans need to encompass physical and virtual assets located on earth as well as those orbiting the earth. The cyber universe extends into the actual universe with satellites, weapons systems, and exploratory vehicles and devices all connecting to terrestrial networks. Protecting those endpoints and the IT paths in between is critical. A
Russian attack on the Viasat satellite constellation knocked out communications across Ukraine on the eve of an invasion and serves as a high-stakes example of how much we rely on space-based objects for basic communication.

The U.S. Space Force and NASA are working to harden and protect the IT between earth and space, but are facing the same issues as other agencies in terms of the cybersecurity skills gap. There simply are not enough trained people to complete all the work that needs to be done to secure the vast network these organizations oversee. To bridge this gap, space agencies are finding new ways to meet the cyber needs of the nation, and the universe. Continue reading

The Highs and Lows of Strengthening the Federal Workforce

The federal government has put an emphasis on the need to strengthen the federal workforce. A strong federal workforce is one that is diverse in terms of race, gender, age, and experience. It is also made up of people with the skills needed to utilize and innovate with modern technologies. The results of diversity and hiring efforts have been mixed, providing insight into what really works in recruiting and retaining a strong federal workforce.

Help Wanted = Data Wanted

NASA has been working on improving the diversity of its workforce for over a decade. However, a recent report showed that despite all of the focus and effort, little progress has been made. The report found that demographics of NASA's workforce remain mostly unchanged since 2012 with only small increases of 1% to 2% for some demographic groups. NASA continues to lag behind the general federal workforce demographics with women making up 35% of the NASA workforce as compared to 45% of the general federal workforce. Women make up only 25% of NASA's scientific workforce compared to women holding 31% of scientific jobs elsewhere in government. Continue reading

Looking Past the Cloud and Into Space

While the focus of government modernization has been transitioning government into the Cloud, NASA and Space Force have their sights set even further. Both organizations are focused on bringing "new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth."

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Show Me the Data!

Data is critical to that mission. Using data, NASA leaders have set a goal to accelerate the time it takes to release innovations to the market by 25%. This data use challenge is common across government, and becomes even more complex when you have to get data from where it is to where it's needed and that movement involves data coming from space.

Being a new agency, Space Force is able to implement many digital born systems, but working with legacy data and systems is a constant challenge that requires innovative thinking. Critical to this is understanding a technology's application to a specific mission and effectively communicating its impact to leaders to help reduce barriers to changing "how it's always been done."

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Planning Toward FY 2022 – A Peek at the Federal Budget

The Biden Administration recently issued its request for 2022 spending. This practice is really more of a policy effort than actual budgeting, but serves to illustrate administration priorities to inform agencies as to what is likely to get approved in the final budget. The 2022 budget request has a number of IT-specific priorities, starting with the funding of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) at another $500 million for fiscal 2022. This would be in addition to the $1 billion that was invested as part of the American Rescue Plan Act--money that helped support the ongoing effort to digitize government services and operations.

The $58.4 billion in IT spending includes marked increases in the IT budgets of the Treasury Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Homeland Security. NASA and the Department of Commerce had small reductions to its IT budgets.

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Navigating the World With Drones

Five years ago, drones patrolling the air and delivering packages seemed like something that lived only in reruns of the Jetsons. But in a short time, drones have become a reality in our modern world with commercial models retailing for as little as $44. With this technology's fast rise, the government is working hard to determine the best way to maintain public safety while preserving the rights of people to operate drones safely.[Tweet "5 years ago, drones patrolling the air/delivering packages seemed like something from the Jetsons. #GovEventsBlog"]

Issue one is the infringement on airspace. In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)†reported†that the number of annual drone sightings by commercial pilots had quadrupled to 650, just by August of that year. The FAA has been looking for ways to integrate drones into the tracking of our national airspace to ensure the safety of everyone in the sky.[Tweet "The FAA has been looking for ways to integrate drones safely into our national airspace. #GovEventsBlog"] Continue reading