Tech News for May 3

Project Management Framework

The California Project Management Office (CA-PMO) has created a California Project Management Framework (CA-PMF) to provide departments and organizations with a solid foundation for project success. The CA-PMF offers guidance and insight on project management methods and an approach with accompanying templates.


Oracle to Buy Utilities-Software Maker Opower for $532 Million

Oracle Corp. said it agreed to acquire utilities cloud-services provider Opower Inc., expanding the database giant’s portfolio of cloud software for the utilities industry. Oracle will pay $10.30 a share in cash, a roughly 30% premium higher than Friday’s closing price. The deal is valued at about $532 million, net of Opower’s cash. Opower’s stock rose 30% to $10.29 on Monday as Oracle rose 1.1% to $40.30.

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Dan Walters: California budget flunks Moody’s fiscal ‘stress test’

Moody’s Investor Service last month delivered what should be a sobering message about California’s vulnerability to a massive fiscal meltdown. The credit rating organization conducted a “stress test” of the nation’s largest states. California’s state budget, with its high dependence on volatile income taxes and its low spending flexibility, scored dead last among the five most populous states (Texas was No. 1) and virtually tied with Illinois for last place among the 20 most populous. Income taxes make up two-thirds of general state revenue with the top 1 percent paying half of those taxes, and Moody’s stress test underscores the precariousness of a narrow tax base.

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Agencies unveil plan to encourage development of smart gun technology

The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice released a report on April 29 outlining a strategy for promoting smart gun technology to reduce gun violence. The strategy document, a response to President Barack Obama’s January memo on the topic, seeks to use law enforcement agencies as a way to spur interest in and development of advanced safety technology. “Over the next six months, the administration will partner with state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies to establish the specific conditions under which they would consider purchasing firearms with advanced gun safety technology,” the report states.

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The New Front In Cybersecurity: How to prevent hackers from taking down critical infrastructure

On December 23, 2015, hackers took down the power grid in a region of Western Ukraine, triggering the first blackout ever caused by a cyber attack. This attack was part of a broader trend, as hackers are increasingly exploring ways to target critical infrastructure like power grids, transportation systems, hydroelectric dams, and chemical plants.

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Measure to Register Consultants as Lobbyists Goes to Governor’s Desk

California lawmakers on Monday unanimously approved new disclosure rules intended to shed light on billions of dollars in state spending and the entities that pay to win lucrative government contracts. Whether AB 1200 will provide the transparency envisioned by its backers is now a question before Gov. Jerry Brown, who will be urged to vote against the measure by the Fair Political Practices Commission and his Department of Finance.

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California Department of Technology to Extend Fiber to City of Sacramento

The Department of Technology in April agreed to extend the department’s fiber ring to the city of Sacramento in an arrangement that the department says will save the city and the state money over the long term. “This agreement will replace leased, vendor provided, critical network FRS circuits with city fiber, saving CDT approximately $20,000 per month. Although CDT [California Department of Technology] was required to initially spend approximately $117,000 to build out seven sites, the cost will be recouped in less than 6 months once the CDT vendor fiber contracts are terminated. In return, CDT will become the Internet Service Provider for the City of Sacramento, allowing the city to eliminate costly vendor-provided ISP services,” the Department of Technology announced on its blog April 28.

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Cloud Computing and How It Has Impacted Outsourcing

IT functions, such as help desks, tech support, and even data center operations, have a long and fruitful history of outsourcing- And why shouldn’t they? Outsourcing has enabled organizations to extend their in-house capabilities, without having to commit to long-term capital investments, apart from numerous other benefits. And although the transition to cloud computing is still in the pilot stage, the outsourcing industry is already feeling its impact as more and more of their clients are gradually shifting from traditional IT spending to cloud-based ones. The shift to cloud computing is also affecting supplier behavior and posing unprecedented challenges as individuals and industry migrate from traditional sourcing models.

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EMC launches hybrid cloud computing tools

EMC launched new all-Flash storage gear, tools to manage and automate data centers and a Virtustream storage cloud for hybrid environments.  The news comes as EMC World launches in Las Vegas. EMC is nearing a merger with Dell that should be completed in the months ahead. Michael Dell is keynoting day 1 for EMC World. EMC’s plan is to launch a series of tools to move its core products to all-Flash as well as dangle cloud services to go along with it.

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NTIA toolkit to help communities develop, implement broadband roadmaps

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, has created a toolkit (pdf) providing technical assistance for states, cities and other communities trying to launch or expand broadband access. The toolkit, “Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap,” is offered through the NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program, which has overseen $4 billion in grants to expand broadband access across the country. The grants were provided through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, NTIA noted in an announcement.

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CalEPA Website Takes Environmental Complaints from the Public

The California Environmental Protection Agency recently unveiled an online tool for the public to report environmental problems no matter where they are. The new Web-based CalEPA environmental reporting system that launched April 21 is accessible on smartphones and other mobile devices, as well as desktop computers. CalEPA explained how the new website works in an announcement: The new website takes the user through the process of reporting an environmental problem, whether it’s related to air or water pollution, hazardous or solid waste, or pesticides. The system can identify the user’s location using GPS and allows them to upload photo, video and other documentation of the suspected hazard. The website is available in English and Spanish.

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RFQ: California Highway Patrol Buying Body-Worn Cameras, Cloud Storage for Pilot Project

The California Highway Patrol on Monday released an RFQ for hardware, software and storage that will be used in a pilot of body-worn cameras. The CHP will test the body-worn cameras at two field offices in Stockton and Oakland. The RFQ includes body-worn cameras, cloud storage, local storage, evidence management software, configuration, and training to support the one-year pilot project. “The primary difference between the two offices will be the media (local or cloud storage) upon which the video evidence is maintained. The Oakland Area Office will use cloud storage and the Stockton Area Office will use local storage (with the database replicated to CHP Headquarters in Sacramento),” the project’s Statement of Work says.

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Evolving for Agility: 6 Areas for CIOs to Address (Industry Perspective)

In the digital world, challenges and opportunities emerge ever-more rapidly. Public-sector technology infrastructures and supporting business processes are evolving as agencies are driven to better anticipate and adapt to changes quickly and efficiently. For new digital initiatives and IT system modernization efforts, the “old way” of custom-built, mainframe-based systems built over extended linear development cycles is yielding to a much faster-iterating agile development process, often tapping off-the-shelf or open source software options and emerging capabilities in mobility, analytics and cloud computing.

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Legislature Passes Bill to Disclose Lobbying on State Contracts

A bill to shed greater light on how state government contracts are won in California passed the Legislature Monday. AB 1200, by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Palo Alto, would require lobbyists communicating with officials on a contract worth more than $250,000 to register and report their activity. “In 18 other states, there are laws on the book that require some kind of reporting around the lobbying that goes on around government contracts,” said Assemblyman Gordon. “We don’t have such a law in California, and we have $11 billion of government contracts by the state every year.”

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California state spokesman and ex-journalist Jim Zamora dies at 57

As a reporter, he covered some of the biggest stories for California’s largest newspapers. As a labor spokesman, he represented California’s largest state-employee union. As a public official, he hoped to improve the nation’s largest state civil-service system – even if just a little. James Herron Zamora, well-known in Sacramento media, union and government circles, died Thursday evening while recovering from a stroke and a severe bacterial infection. He was 57.

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