Tech News for May 26

Understanding And Utilizing Multimodal IT

In light of the rapidly changing tech scene, many organizations have started to look toward the future and adapt their traditional enterprise systems to new and developing technologies. What is emerging now is an environment where agencies are adapting bimodal or multimodal technologies and platforms. In fact, nearly a third (33 percent) of respondents in a recent GovLoop survey of 600 federal, state and local government employees indicate that their agency is already using a mix of both traditional and agile, modern technologies. But what exactly is multimodal IT, and how are public-sector organizations embracing it? Multimodal IT is not a new concept – just a new term for something that has been happening in public organizations for quite some time.

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Hybrid Cloud Is Here to Stay, Report Says

Despite the massive amount of press, the cloud won’t completely dominate government anytime soon, according to a new study. A survey released May 24 based on data gathered in December 2015 by networking firm SolarWinds found that while most of the study’s 116 IT professionals have invested in the cloud, a majority reported belief that there are certain functions that will never be migrated. The hybrid approach is here to stay, said SolarWinds CEO Joel Dolisy.

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An 18F for cyber? Co-founder Greg Godbout says it’s on the horizon

The first-ever executive director of 18F, the Obama administration’s IT tiger team, envisions a new federal cybersecurity fix-it organization that could parachute into agencies to help boost their digital defenses. Reflecting on his vision for the future of digital citizen services, and on his time with the federal government, Greg Godbout said there’s a need for a U.S. “cybersecurity service” as an adjunct to the administration’s U.S. Digital Service. And he noted the feds could look to Britain’s Communications Electronics Security Group as a possible model.

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Congress leads state legislatures in open data efforts — panel

Although Congress is still struggling with open data, it remains far ahead of state and local legislatures when it comes to releasing data in machine readable and downloadable formats, according to a panel of experts and Congressional staffers. At a discussion hosted by the nonprofit Center for Data Innovation Tuesday, open data advocates lamented that state and local lawmakers have so far been unable to match the progress that legislators and staffers at the federal level have made in the area.

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State CIOs Urge Feds to Finalize Cyberattack Response Plan

State chief information officers and cybersecurity officials are calling on the federal government to finalize a plan of action for responding to major cyberattacks, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security drafted over six years ago. The National Cyber Incident Response Plan, known as N-Chirp, seeks to coordinate efforts between federal, state and local officials, as well as other stakeholders, to mitigate damages and bounce back from cyberattacks aimed at disrupting power grids, or major communications and transportation systems, among other targets.

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Defense Department uses floppy disks, ’70s PC system in nuclear weapons tech

The Department of Defense uses 1970s-era computing systems and 8-inch floppy disks to operate functions related to nuclear weapons, according to a recent report. The U.S. Government Accountability Office published its Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems report on Wednesday, in which the oversight agency said the Defense Department uses the IBM Series/1 Computer system and floppy disks in connection to functions also related to intercontinental ballistic missiles and tanker support aircraft. The Defense Departments plans to update technology, including its data storage and desktop terminals, by the end of fiscal year 2017.

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Capacity, redundancy, and transparency: The three big cloud question marks

From my perch in the cloud computing ecosystem, I see three concerns on the horizon for cloud computing: capacity, redundancy, and transparency. In certain ways, these topics are inter-related with security. Certainly, from the customer’s viewpoint, they all touch on perceptions of value and trust. And possible solutions, at least to my mind, tend to reflect old-school logic around risk management principles. I know from my conversations with other professionals in the cloud computing industry that my concerns are widely shared and that a variety of solutions are actively being sought. Because these are broad-based concerns that affect everyone in this domain, however, they’re worth sharing to generate further discussion of potential solutions.

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FACT SHEET: First Ever White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon

At the heart of the American story is the simple truth that all children should have a fair chance at success, no matter who they are or where they come from. Central to this promise of opportunity is the love and support of a family – which all children deserve, but not enough have. On any given day, there are over 400,000 children in our nation’s foster care system with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted. Every year, 23,000 of these youth will age out of the system never having found a permanent home. Young people who age out of foster care face a tough road: they are more likely to experience significant challenges with completing their education, obtaining a job, homelessness, maintaining financial security and staying out of the criminal justice system. A significant percentage of former foster youth suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We also know that there continues to be a disproportionate representation of African-American and Native-American children and youth in foster care. The President believes that no child should have to beat the odds simply to get a good education, to live a productive life free from abuse and neglect and to pursue their dreams. And they certainly should not feel alone as they try.

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Infusing Government with a Data-Driven Culture

There are many different ways city leaders can utilize or even define the purpose of data. One could think about performance data as it relates to activities, like the number of potholes filled or arrests made, or how it relates to service outcomes which, like initiatives on obesity or infant mortality, require data sharing across agencies. Then there’s open data, which is seen in some localities as an obligatory transparency measure and in others as real way to encourage co-production of governance. Most municipalities have done some work in at least one of these areas. But to unleash the full potential of data, a city needs a coordinated strategy that overcomes procurement obstacles while encompassing each pillar of its data-directed work. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter set out to change the data and performance culture of his city during his two terms, which ended in January.

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RFQ: California Department of Justice Complaint System Redesign

The California Department of Justice is seeking a contractor to replace the Public Inquiry Unit’s complaint system. Cal DOJ wants a contractor to design, implement and configure a Software-as-a-Service solution providing “a new, streamlined complaint system that has a separate landing page and that provides a complete end to end solution for receiving, tracking, storing, managing and responding to public inquiries.” The current system relies upon submissions sent through online forms, and each complaint is uploaded into the Correspondence Storage, Tracking and Response (C-STAR) system that has been used for a decade.

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Lawmakers Request State Audit of Large No-Bid Contracts

Lawmakers on Wednesday officially requested the California State Auditor investigate how often the state awards large contracts without following the competitive bid process. In a unanimous vote, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an audit of the California Department of General Services and the California Department of Technology. At issue is the extent of non-competitive bids awarded to private companies for goods and services provided to the state. State law requires private entities and individuals to bid for contracts as a way to ensure a good price, but there are exemptions. Those exemptions concern lawmakers who want to make sure taxpayers aren’t being fleeced.

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State employees offered bikes to rent as option for downtown trips

State employees needing transportation for business purposes within the city of Sacramento can now request a car or a bicycle. Several departments have their own bike-sharing programs for employees, most funded through grants, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Department of General Services. Based on the positive response to those programs, he said, General Services decided to make bicycles available to employees of any department through the State Garage on 10th Street in downtown Sacramento. The State Employee BikeShare Program launched Tuesday. Ferguson said the state purchased 12 bicycles, costing less than $200 each, which employees may rent for business purposes. “It’s an opportunity to get people out of their cars and get them on bikes,” Ferguson said.

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Elevated CISO would strengthen HHS cybersecurity — panel

Elevating the Department of Health and Human Services’ chief information security officer to an equal of the CIO would eliminate an institutional conflict blamed for a series of department data breaches in recent years, a panel of nongovernment health IT experts said. “A CIO is typically concerned about availability and uptime of IT, as opposed to privacy or sensitive information,” Josh Corman, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council and self-described “staunch advocate of the CISO role,” said before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’ Subcommittee on Health Wednesday. No officials from HHS were present at the hearing, although lawmakers promised to consult with the department.

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