The Coronavirus has made many organizations take a hard look at how and if they should proceed with events in the coming months. Decisions made in response to this virus should be informed by security and contingency best practices and should serve to inform planners in the future.
Best practices include:
- Hygiene - Have antibacterial sanitizers available throughout your event venue. Ensure that bathrooms are stocked with anti-bacterial soap. Confirm with caterers how they stock buffets to reduce the risk of people grabbing for food with hands instead of utensils.
- Have a Plan B - Consider how you can take the show virtual if needed. Look into virtual event and webcast technologies in advance of an issue arising to provide an alternate option should an event have to be canceled or postponed.
- Review Contracts - Look carefully at cancellation clauses so you understand what falls into each vendor's (including insurance provider's) definition of "force majeure." This ensures that you fully understand the reimbursement policies when making cancellation decisions.
- Plug into the Community - Tune in to what is happening in the city/community where you are holding the event. It's critical to know what is going on in the community so you can plan accordingly. For example, if there has there been a rash of recent protests or a spike in crime, you may want to increase security at your venue. In the case of a public health issue, you'll know what is actually happening on the ground in terms of infections and general reactions so you can inform attendees and plan accordingly.
We've been in touch with many of our partners and have pulled together this list of events that have been canceled, postponed or rescheduled due to health concerns.
We'd love to hear from you. How have precautions around the Coronavirus impacted your event planning? Share your stories in the comments. For more government events worldwide, visit GovEvents.
The ninth Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) Scorecard, released in December, showed promising progress in meeting goals and in holding agencies accountable for their modernization efforts. For the first time, three different agencies earned an "A" or higher. The General Services Administration and Department of Education both received an "A+" and The United States Agency for International Development got an "A." This scorecard was the only time a failing grade was not handed out. Overall, agencies have upped their scores from a "D" average on the first scorecard in 2015 to a current "C+" average.
Scores are not the only thing that has increased. What is being measured has also grown. The first scorecard only measured four areas -- data center consolidation, IT portfolio review savings, incremental development, and risk assessment transparency. The latest version has nine subcategories that include measuring progress against recently enacted legislation.
Big gains in scores were found in regard to compliance with the Megabyte Act, legislation that aims to improve the way agencies manage their software licenses. Gains were also found in giving CIOs more authority. In fact, the reporting found that 22 agencies had permanent CIOs, two had acting CIOs and, of those, 16 reported directly to leadership.
Progress on data center consolidation also continues, though not without controversy. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) voiced concern with the Office of Management and Budget's latest guidance on data center consolidation that changes the language to "optimization" and not "consolidation." He argued that consolidation is what frees up capital and drives cost savings, an area where agencies still struggle. Continue reading
The delays and confusion over the Iowa Caucus results has once again brought election security into the national spotlight. Voting has increasingly moved to electronic means following the 2000 elections that put the fate of the election in the "hanging chads" of Florida. Electronic voting machines seek to remove human-error in the actual voting process as well as vote tallying. However, many voting precincts are using technology that is 10-20 years old, introducing problems around maintaining and securing the systems for today's use.
One surprising conclusion around election security is the critical role of a paper trail. Having a paper back-up to electronic voting proved to be important in Iowa and is making counties nationwide re-examine the role of paper in modern elections with the end goal of accuracy being more important than speed.
To modernize voting procedures, systems, and products, Congress has earmarked over $700 million to replace paperless voting machines with more secure digital options that offer a paper trail. While voting is handled at the state and local level, more support from the federal level comes with a new policy that ensures the FBI brief state election officials when local election infrastructure has been compromised. However, many argue this does not go far enough and that the FBI should loop in election officials if they discover breaches of private sector companies involved in providing election technology and support. Continue reading
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is the steward of U.S. economic and financial systems, and is responsible for maintaining the nation's financial infrastructure. This includes the production of currency, the disbursement of payments to the American public, revenue collection, and the borrowing of funds necessary to run the federal government. The most familiar agency within Treasury may also be the most dreaded, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With tax time approaching, we thought it was a good time to look at the challenges and focus of the Treasury.
- Cybercrime - The Treasury has always been focused on preventing fraud related to currency and tax evasion, but much like the Department of Defense has recognized cyberspace as a new battlefield. Treasury is now focusing on the Internet as the primary stage for money-related crimes. The speed at which crimes are carried out online require new techniques and tools. The use of cryptocurrencies to mask criminal behavior is also a huge focus of the Treasury's investigative departments.
- Blockchain - While blockchain has a tie to the movement of cryptocurrencies (both legitimate and criminal), Treasury is also looking at the technology as a way to better facilitate the management of federal grant funds. In one case, the National Science Foundation is using blockchain to track grant payments and ensure that the terms of the grant are being followed.
- Cloud - Like the Intelligence community, Treasury is looking to develop a cloud solution that meets the unique security needs of its mission while delivering on the efficiencies of the on-demand nature of cloud. The Department is developing a proposal for "T-Cloud," an enterprise wide suite of cloud and professional services across multiple providers. The goal to is award this contract and get it implemented by 2022.
- Citizen Experience - The IRS may be one of the most visible government agencies as citizens interact with them at least once a year. With their high touch with the public, the IRS has been a leader in redefining what customer service means in government. In fiscal 2018, 90% of customers were satisfied with their service via phone or a tax assistance center. This does not mean the work is done. A recent report gave the IRS a C+ on its use of language, saying the agency needs to make their web content more user-friendly using Plain Language
For those working at or supporting the Treasury, there are several upcoming events that can help bring these challenges and their solutions into focus.
Implementations and pilots of blockchain continue across government. The benefits of blockchain, including decentralization, immutability, security, and transparency, are appealing in government as they relate directly to mandates around security, privacy, and data openness. It is these needs that will drive further acceptance and use of blockchain.
As this article points out, innovation is not found in just one technology alone - it is a combination of inventions that when used together toward a specific goal create a new way of doing something. The example cited is the airplane. Human flight was made possible by the desire to travel faster and the combination of technologies and discoveries such as the gasoline engine and aerodynamics. Similarly, the goal of peer-to-peer transactions powered by blockchain will be achieved when the technology is combined with other innovations and processes. Some early successes fueling the wide application of blockchain include: