While the IC’s research organization looks into adding security to cloud environments, in the here and now, intelligence agencies are sharing more data.
This year’s recently completed Management of Change conference in Cambridge, Md., set an attendance record, with more than 500 government and industry officials discussing ways to bring innovation to government.
Below are news and notes from the conference, which focused on “Hacking Culture Through Change.”
Continuous delivery of services was a major topic of interest. Mark Schwartz, CIO of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his department has reduced the time it takes to complete some tasks from eight months to minutes. “For simple things — like changing parts of a website — we automated as many of the controls as we could and took out a number of the oversight layers that dragged the process down.”
Social media — specifically, Twitter — has become the State Department’s initial source of news during a global event, said Corina DuBois, the chief of new media for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. In those cases (for instance, during the recent earthquakes in Nepal), the State Department can begin preparing its response or finding ways to point people to the information they may need.
Different people view the same data in different ways, said Fawn Freeman, director of the Mission Investment Solutions Division at the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, a father taking his son fishing might not care much about the weather because he’s just looking to spend a fun day with his son. A commercial fisherman in the same area, on the other hand, might care much more, as small changes in the weather could make a big change in his haul for the day.
Contests and challenges have become more popular in government, but they come with an internal cost. A recent NASA space apps challenge brought in more than a 1,000 responses, of which only about 400 have been reviewed so far. “This information is great, but finding which ones are valid and then taking them to the part of NASA that can do something with it has its own set of challenges too,” said Beth Beck, manager of NASA’s open innovation program in the Office of the CIO.
ACT-IAC, the nonprofit organization that runs the Management of Change conference, celebrated the graduation of its Voyagers program on Monday. The program trains rising stars in government to be future leaders.
Jeff Johnson, the FBI’s chief technology officer, said he would like for contractors to have a closer working relationship with government, bringing them further inside the walls for a more collaborative process. Part of that, he says, is that when programs fail, it’s government that tends to shoulder the blame — and get the headlines in The Washington Post, he says — while the contractor largely goes unnoticed. “They need to be partners, not just a prime contractor,” Johnson said. “It will bring greater accountability.”
Martha Dorris, director of strategic programs at the General Services Administration’s Office of Integrated Technology Solutions, was honored with the 2015 John J. Franke Award. Given by ACT-IAC, the award recognizes a government employee who has made extraordinary and long-term contributions to creating a more effective, innovative and responsive government.