Agencies Meet FITARA Goals Even While Battling Pandemic Challenges

The latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard showed that all agencies still have passing grades when it comes to meeting federal goals for IT management and reporting, but there was some backsliding in the latest report.

Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Veterans Administration improved their overall scores, while five agencies -- Commerce, Small Business Administration, The General Services Administration, Social Security Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Aid - all dropped. A positive among the scores was that every agency received at least one A for the first time in the scorecard's history.

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Tanks, Planes, Ships, and Data: Activating the DOD’s Data Strategy

The battles of tomorrow will likely not be fought on the ground, they will take place in cyberspace as nation-states and rogue actors alike look to interrupt the everyday functions of a country via high-tech attacks. Recently we saw the Russian hack of software, designed (ironically) to help organizations monitor network problems and anomalies, which has the government and private companies scrambling to determine what data was compromised. With cyberspace being the new battlefield, data and data management have quickly become a strategic asset in the DoD arsenal.

Last fall, the DOD released the Department's Data Strategy. An overarching guidance on how they will manage, secure, and use data. This document supports the DOD's transition to "a data-centric organization that uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency." The Data Strategy includes 7 goals, nicknamed VAULTIS, to becoming data-centric:

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Formalizing the Future of Cloud in Government

In one of its first acts, the 117th Congress passed the FedRAMP Authorization Act. This bill codifies the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and, in the process, speeds up the time it takes for cloud solutions to be implemented in the Federal government. Currently, cloud solutions must frequently gain separate authority to operate statuses for each agency where they are used. This bill looks to have the General Services Administration (GSA) automate processes to promote reciprocity for security validations from one agency to another.

This bill was passed at a critical time for cloud adoption within government as agencies continue to accelerate their digital plans to meet the needs of a remote workforce. While the way has been cleared for "emergency" use of cloud to keep the business of government running, laws and policy like this Act ensure that there is long term support for the move to cloud services.

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Security in the “New Normal”

With telework expected to stay long after the pandemic ebbs, government agencies are looking to shore up the remote work solutions they put in place to ensure on premise security measures extend to the dispersed workforce. Multi-cloud environments are the reality for almost every agency. The many applications needed for the diverse functions of an organization require multiple cloud solutions to provide the specific support needed.

A report from Meritalk, Multi-Cloud Defense: Redefining the Cyber Playbook, found that 83 percent of respondents are increasing multi-cloud adoption to support telework and mission needs related to COVID-19. However, 42 percent said their cyber strategies cannot keep up. One part of the challenge is creating a solution that can be applied to the wide variety of endpoint devices and meeting enterprise security requirements.

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Artificial Intelligence Gains Energy

The development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) became official policy of the United States with the signing of an Executive Order in February. This order outlines and directs America's government-wide push to advance the use of AI through research and public/private partnerships. In the ensuing months, the Department of Energy has emerged as a leader in these efforts.

In September 2019, the DOE initiated the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) to help channel the department's vast resources across its national lab facilities. These efforts are paying off as DOE partners with Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs as part of the COVID-19 Insights Partnership with the goal to increase data sharing and analysis in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The DOE is also pressing ahead with private partnerships announcing the First Five Consortium with Microsoft, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Defense Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). Together they will develop AI-based solutions for data-first responders.

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