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March - April 2013

Time and ROI: Not on the Agency’s Side

Apps what can they do for you?

Malcolm Jackson

EPA

Casey Coleman

GSA

Jerry Williams

HUD

Linda Cureton

NASA

Darren Ash

NRC


Government CIOs Face Unique Challenges, Share Insights

In

the premiere issue of Modern Government Ve presented an intervieV Vith Tony )imeneY the founder and CEO of MicroTech. Tony has quite an interesting bacJground and has accumulated a Vealth of eWperience in fulƥlling the needs of government entities. -ot surprisingly Tony had some very insightful and intriguing thoughts to share Vith us.

That ƥrst issue of Modern Government certainly set the bar high. But itŗs a standard that Ve aspire to meet Vith every single issue. In this our second issue Ve thinJ youŗll agree that Veŗre oƤ to a good start in meeting that challenge. %or this issue Ve met Vith the Chief Information OƧcers of ƥve high proƥle government agencies: DARREN ASH, CIO of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission CASEY COLEMAN, CIO of the General Services Administration LINDA CURETON, CIO of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

MALCOLM JACKSON, CIO of the Environmental Protection Agency JERRY WILLIAMS, CIO of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Each agency has faced the problems inherent in government operations. But each of these agencies has also faced a unique set of challenges in recent years. And each CIO has been instrumental in helping guide their respective agencies through a morass of budgetary Ʀuctuations evolving mandates and dynamically changing technologies. As this issue of Modern Government goes to press the shocJVaves of sequestration ripple through the government landscape. The rapid evolution of technology forces rapid change for both governmental and private organiYations. HoV have the CIOs dealt Vith these challenges 6hat roles Vill technology play in meeting those challenges and hoV Vill their agencies evolve as part of a more modern government. 6e believe youŗll ƥnd their ansVers to be interesting insightful and instructional.

Jenna Bratten President and CEO, AEi International Publisher, Modern Government


Features

10 Challenges and Opportunities For Government CIOs

what can 5 Apps they do for you?

On the cover Malcolm Jackson CIO, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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Modern Government sat down for an in-depth interview with ƥve Government CIOs

Time and ROI: Not on the Agency’s Side

Modern Government March - April 2013 Published by AEi International Feature Photography by Reese Studios www.reesestudios.com

Modern Government is a bi-monthly online publication that goes beyond the traditional business divide to bring leading organizations together to share thought leadership and practical insights for government.

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

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Contributors

Joe Diviak

Edward Bender

Joe, a genetically predisposed geek, started his love for binary code when the Atari2600 was all the rage and kids went to arcades to socialiYe 'e learned his craft through experimenting with Atari BASIC on his trusted 007+, programming his ƥrst arcade game at  years old

Ed Bender is the Lead Federal Systems Engineer at SolarWinds, an IT management software provider Based in 'erndon, 5A oƧce, Ed helps organizations understand how to leverage IT management software to improve productivity for federal IT professionals

After brieƦy attending the 4niversity of Texas at Arlington to study Physics and Aerospace Engineering, he went to work for Ingram Micro, a Fortune 50 technology distribution company Joe left Ingram in 1999 to work in the telecommunications industry for such companies as AT&T and 1onco before starting his ƥrst venture, Levity Communications, a telecommunication consulting ƥrm Levity was sold to a Rochester based IT company in 2007 and Joe’s path moved back once again to software and programming I guess once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur Logical Mobility was founded in 2010 with an emphasis on business mobile communication but those priorities were redirected to application creation and design Joe’s creativity and vision bundled with his intellect and technological prowess allow him to lead Logical Mobility Labs to be one of the best mobile application development companies in the world You can contact him at: Ioe diviaklogicalmobility com

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March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

'e has worked in Federal IT for more than 20 years, with several years in application security work to help measure and reduce risk in critical web applications Ed started his IT career performing scientiƥc programming and performance optimization on supercomputers, followed by performance monitoring and optimization of complex IT systems in the federal government 'e has a B S cum laude in Biomedical Engineering from Boston 4niversity and a MS in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers 4niversity


Tech

Apps what can they do for you? BY Joe Diviak

A

pps the neV gold rush everyone Vants one. Is it the cool factor or is it something you really should thinJ about It’s interesting when I speak with potential clients that some have a pretty good idea that they want a mobile app but are not sure how or what it really can do for them I always bring up the analogy of the web and over twelve years ago most organizations knew they probably needed a website but really didn’t understand what it could truly do for their business Find me a business today that doesn’t have a presence on the web

It’s interesting when I speak with potential clients that some have a pretty good idea that they want a mobile app but are not sure how or what it really can do for them.

So, why do you need an app and what kind? There are two major types of mobile apps; ones built for an external client and ones built for internal processes Most organizations think that the Lord of The Rings mantra of one app to rule them all is the way to go When in fact, most organizations should look at all facets on how mobile technology can improve their return on investment This

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App Development Growth By 2015 mobile app development projects will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1.

makes it very easy to see why more than one app in both categories makes productivity and data management much easier

Consumer Oriented By far this is the category most people think of when apps are brought up They think of Angry Birds or Spotify These are the ones that make end users outside of your organization able to connect and interact with you They don’t always need to have entertainment Puality associated with them One way to see how your organization interacts with your customers is to look ƥrst at your website What in your site would be of value to those who interact with your organization? Can we take that and make a mobile version of it? Just remember whatever is on your website can always be used on an app but unlike a standalone computer, a mobile phone has more technology built into it such as a camera, GPS, accelerometer, compass, texting and voice capability and of course, a touch screen Examples include a government service that taxpayers can access on the Ʀy to possibly pay their child’s tuition for college or purchase their books right from their tablet Just realize, more families are purchasing tablets and smartphones as their primary connection to the Internet versus desktop and laptop computers

Enterprise The new trend is to replace laptops and computers with tablets and smartphones -ot only are they more cost eƤective, they are much more portable This means having enterprise, internal company programs run on these devices There are many ways to interface with these software systems;

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March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

the main is through what’s called an API or application-programming interface Many software systems have some sort of API that a developer can tap into and build a customized mobile user interface that directly communicates to the organization’s back end database This allows any mobile employee to have direct and instant access to company resources Some examples include an inspector doing a report on their app while simultaneously recording photographs or video to attach to that particular report and everything is updated instantly Or, a case worker in the ƥeld utilizing GPS to get to their next appointment and also utilizing voice to text transcription to help ƥnish and manage their reports In summary, there are two main types of audiences One is for users outside your organization or consumer based apps, the other is for users internal to your organization or enterprise The best approach is to analyze which user group would beneƥt most and start there When working with a professional application development ƥrm, they should be able to help you brainstorm ideas and make your application a world-class solution Good luck with your mobile endeavors ǤǞ

Tech

Many software systems have some sort of API that a developer can tap into and build a customized mobile user interface that directly communicates to the organization’s back end database.


IT Investment

Time and ROI: Not on the Agency’s Side BY Edward Bender

W

hile there are many comparisons to be draVn betVeen the public and private sectors from the technologies used to the common IT challenges faced the truth is that the tVo split at critical Iunctures especially after a technology is implemented. The best example of this variation is seen with project metrics – in the private sector world, nearly every IT goal revolves around money, speciƥcally return on investment ROI, a measure that compares the current value provided by a project to the initial outlay Money is obviously a factor for federal agencies, but with the government emphasis on providing a public service, proƥts are not the goal for governmental organizations, unlike private sector companies where revenue and proƥts drive almost every decision Instead, agencies look at time as their primary driver for ROI Rather than asking, ř'ow much is the total cost of ownership” or “how will this drive proƥts,” agencies instead focus on:

] Can new users come up to speed in less time with a new technology? ] 'ow long is the integration period with existing systems and networks? ] 'ow swiftly can daily tasks be completed, and is it faster than the old way? 4ltimately, it’s the clock, not the piggy bank that drives federal IT decisions And if looked at from the perspective of a government CIO, it makes perfect sense The typical government agency is vast, with thousands of employees, processes, systems and networks, all of which are critical to the common good This vastness expands exponentially when looking at a military or DoD entity, as does the critical nature of the tasks Given the size of these organizations, the cost of hardware/software is miniscule in the face of the man-hours which can easily be transformed into budget dollars lost in productivity when it comes to training these behemoth workforces on a new system or integrating a

Ultimately, it’s the clock, not the piggy bank that drives federal IT decisions. And if looked at from the perspective of a government CIO, it makes perfect sense.

new technology with existing systems To better frame this from a private sector perspective, look at “saving time” as productivity improvement Time saved in federal IT is, in truth, labor saved doing routine tasks, speciƥcally the labor of the federal IT workforce, most of which are contractors Since an agency’s IT budget for labor is relatively ƥxed, the challenge for federal IT managers is to get the most work out of a static labor budget – the very deƥnition of productivity So whether a speciƥc agency is focused on “saving time,” “reducing costs,” or “increasing productivity” within federal IT, each goal is directly related to the others To drill deeper, a time-based ROI for agencies is looked at in three separate components: ] Training ] Integration ] Day-to-Day Tasks By breaking down each of these critical components, it becomes easy to see why agencies value time far more than just dollar signs

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IT Investment

The Training Footprint With the country still emerging from a vicious recession, government resources have shrunk considerably from the “better days ” While still larger than most standard corporate budgets, agencies are being tasked with doing more with less — but less in this instance does not simply refer to cash It also means that allocations for training are all but gone, making new technology implementations something of a gamble The expense of paying tuition for a training class for an IT worker is only part of the problem Every week spent in training reduces an employee’s labor hours on a yearly basis by roughly two percent, taking into account 50 workweeks each year In the IT world, with the rapid pace of technological change, 80 hours per year for training is a near necessity, especially with less experienced employees and increasingly complex IT solutions Federal systems and network administrators sysadmins, netops admins, the cogs that make agency networks run smoothly, are often faced with

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Federal agencies must fall out of love with overly complex, monolithic frameworks that promise a world of features.

implementing and utilizing technologies that are far too often unintuitive and require weeks, if not months, of training to actually leverage for value As such, training on new technologies is vital for these projects to actually deliver on their promises to federal IT But without a training budget, such beneƥts simply cannot be delivered -o matter how resourceful a sysadmin is, if they do not have the necessary training to use a highly complex system, the project is highly prone to failure, regardless of how promising it looked at the outset But with every week that is devoted to training, costs rise and available labor is reduced Sysadmins in training cannot perform routine IT work, leading to stalled projects until training is completed -ow, not only is the project late but end users are likely unhappy with their daily IT support To break out of this trap, training is typically the ƥrst line item that federal IT managers slash when budgets are squeezed, with today’s federal ƥnancing environment a prime example “The lights” must be kept on and new projects must be delivered, so training takes the fall – but it’s a pyrrhic victory at best for agencies, unless they implement technologies that increase productivity without the steep training requirement Federal agencies must fall out of love with overly complex, monolithic frameworks that promise a world of features some of which may not even be needed or never actually used, but only if sysadmins complete PhD-level courses to be able to

properly use the technology Instead, agency buyers must turn to simpler, easy-to-understand IT solutions – they may not oƤer the same breadth of capabilities as the more complex frameworks, but oƤer enough, legitimately useful, productivity enhancing functionality with a fraction of the required training budget There truly are easy-touse but still powerful IT solutions that exist, even in the complexity-heavy world of IT management Many of these solutions are available via online downloads and have extensive, online documentation via community sites and video channels, enabling a “train as you go” scenario for agency IT teams Reducing the training footprint also plays indirectly into the next component of agency ROI: Integration with existing systems

Face the (Legacy) Music Beyond training, agencies also calculate ROI based on how easily a given IT solution can integrate with existing systems From the outside, this sounds simple right? Between cloud technologies and the latest and greatest server technology, integration should be easy That sound you are hearing is ten thousand federal sysadmins laughing at your naivet¤ Technology integration at an agency level is anything but simple, and adding anything new to the mix can be an incredibly painful process, especially when it comes to man-hours Agency systems are a mix of emerging technologies, typically


IT Investment deployed on a trial or pilot basis, as well as tried-but-true mature systems for standard applications and usually a mixture of legacy or extinct solutions supporting mission critical applications This also includes IT projects that failed to be adopted by the actual agency IT professionals, like monolithic IT management technologies Simply rippingand-replacing all of these technologies is not practical nor economically viable, so IT managers need to integrate to get value from their paid-for investments Integration is a key consideration for agencies when it comes to ROI This means that any IT project will be measured by how quickly it can be integrated into existing operations Much like reducing the training footprint, overlycomplex technologies will fail to meet agency ROI goals – they simply take too long to meld with the heterogeneous mixture currently in place at most governmental organizations Simple-to-learn, easy-touse, integrated and streamlined technology is the direction in which agencies are moving These technologies can eƤectively be plug-and-play, requiring little manual integration time when connected to an agency network, cutting the time required dramatically and greatly boosting ROI

The Daily Grind The ƥnal piece of the agency ROI puzzle is how eƧciently a new solution helps federal sysadmins complete their daily tasks Making routine changes, performing routine break/ƥx tasks, running

reports, checking for system breaches or outages and keeping an overly complex network up and running are just a few of the tasks facing some of the most important employees in the federal government These tasks take time, a lot of time, for sysadmins to do properly – if new technology implementations only add to this burden, agencies are going to and rightfully should look the other way Sysadmins are already overburdened, so why would agency CIOs want to task them with additional technologies that only add more to overfull plates? Instead, agencies should look to solutions that add automation, allowing sysadmins to leverage IT software that lets them conduct routine tasks more quickly, which translates into higher productivity and reduced labor costs for the agency CIO More than just making sysadmins lives easier, enabling automation frees federal IT professionals to work on tasks that are far more important than routine changes and keeping the lights on Automation and its associated technologies can also help sysadmins aggregate all of their agency’s disparate systems and networks to provide a global view of the health of the IT infrastructure Eventually this will unify IT processes into a single, streamlined workƦow that helps sysadmins stay on top of outages, breaches and potential malware attacks With their standard tasks being done more quickly with the help of automation, sysadmins have more time to do missioncritical tasks, whether it’s breach remediation or adding new, critical services to an agency

Simpleto-learn, easy-to-use, integrated and streamlined technology is the direction in which agencies are moving.

network In essence, agencies are creating their own ROI by providing automated tools for standard sysadmin tasks, gaining value through productivity gains of sysadmin time 4ltimately, agency ROI for IT is built upon technologies that free federal value-creators to actually create value through additional productivity gains by their IT professionals By aiming for technology implementations that reduce training requirements, enable easier integration with existing systems and networks and automate routine sysadmin tasks, agencies are improving eƧciencies and their operations without draining man-hours on overly complex, monolithic IT solutions Or, in other words, by aiming for simpler, streamlined, automated technologies, agencies really do have time and ROI on their side ǤǞ

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

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March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT


Feature

Challenges and Opportunities For Government CIOs

T

hough technological marvels of their time the early room-sized computers introduced in the middle of the last century produced only a fraction of the computing poVer of a cell phone. But technology progressed rapidly In just a few short years, information technology morphed from a barely-practical novelty into an absolute necessity of modern life Today, no business entity can remain viable and competitive without the aid of computer technology And for most of us, computer technology has also become an indispensable part of our private lives Few people on the planet live their daily lives without some form of aid or interaction with computer technology While some may argue the beneƥts of our dependence upon technology, few would argue that computers haven’t become an inextricable part of our lives

Government Agencies Are No Exception

The needs of most government agencies to process massive amounts of data on a daily basis make information technology vital to government operations So much so that Congress passed the Clinger-Cohen Act in 1996 known at the time as the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 The purpose of the law was to assure that federal agencies competently acquire and manage information technology resources One of the many mandates of the ClingerCohen act was the creation of an executive position within each major federal agency to oversee that agency’s I T operations That position is the Chief Information OƧcer And since the successful management of data is so crucial, the CIO of any organization — but particularly that of a large federal agency — is truly a critical component in that organization’s success

Insights and Wisdom From Five Government CIO’s

In this issue of Modern Government we’re proud to present in-depth interviews with the CIO’s of ƥve federal agencies Each of the CIO’s we interviewed are vastly experienced, with backgrounds in both governmental aƤairs and private industry Each CIO’s agency has experienced a degree of turmoil in recent years And each has faced the diƧcult problems of meshing the needs of a huge, slow-moving bureaucracy with the lightening-quick evolution of modern technology Each freely shared their thoughts about the interface between information technology and government Their unique vantage point oƤers a perspective that renders their insights all the more interesting and valuable We think you’ll agree

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I see a world where our future workers leave work and have everything they need in their pocket to do their job.

Malcolm Jackson

A

s federal agencies go the Environmental Protection Agency is quite young. The EPA was established in 1970 to address concerns about environmental pollution But though young, the EPA has endured more than its share of administrative turmoil In fact, the EPA was born of a mishmash of independent agencies, such as the National Air Pollution Control Administration and the Federal Water 0uality Administration EPA’s predecessors of independent agencies has resulted in administrative issues that linger to this day, representing an ongoing challenge for CIO Malcolm Jackson 4nder Malcolm’s leadership the EPA has implemented common, agency-wide technology solutions that eliminate individual silo processes while still meeting the needs of all departments Mobile technology has played a large role in that ongoing eƤort In addition to serving as EPA’s CIO, Malcolm is also the agency’s Assistant Administrator for the OƧce of Environmental Information

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Feature

The challenge is to find the technologies that provide a return on investment and allow us to free up dollars that had been spent on legacy systems.

Casey Coleman

G

overnment entities are sometimes thought of as being rather ponderous and sloV to adapt. But under CIO Casey Coleman’s leadership, the 4 S General Services Administration is embracing technological changes that make those stereotypical charges ring hollow Casey’s tenure at GSA has seen innovative changes in the way information technology has been used to slash costs, increase worker productivity and increase cybersecurity And moving to a mobility-based model has yielded cost-cutting beneƥts as diverse as reducing by half the amount of oƧce space required to support GSA’s workforce Casey is a two-time winner of the Federal 100 awards, which recognizes and honors leaders who have played a transformational role in the government IT community She was also awarded the MIT Sloan Symposium 2010 Award for Leadership in Innovation

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We will all have to streamline our data systems in order to make our data authoritative, less costly and more capable of supporting decisions.

Jerry Williams

B

ursting housing bubbles and economic doVnturns have made for trying times in recent years for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. After joining '4D in 2009, CIO Jerry Williams has helped lead the agency through some of the most formidable challenges it has ever faced An ongoing challenge for '4D is in the managing of its data By the very nature of its mission '4D must process and manage a massive amount of information As CIO, Jerry has fostered a philosophic approach of data ƥrst, technology second, recognizing that large bureaucracies lack the agility to keep pace with the latest technological changes Even so, under Jerry’s leadership '4D has been making substantial progress in updating and modernizing its information systems Jerry brought decades of government leadership experience to '4D, having also served in the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, and the OƧce of Management and Budget

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Feature

The commercial space flight is where we’re going, which is turning lowearth orbit over to commercial entities and NASA focusing on targets near earth and beyond.

Linda Cureton

A

ll government agencies have to deal Vith a certain amount of change and uncertainty. But for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration changes have been coming at Varp speeds in recent years. Massive budget cuts have taken a toll And at times, NASA’s mission directive has been somewhat ambiguous or in Ʀux As the CIO of NASA since 2009, Linda Cureton has helped guide the legendary agency through some of its most tumultuous changes: The retirement of the shuttle Ʀeet, for example, and the move toward commercialization of low-earth orbit activities Beƥtting an agency whose heritage revolves around the pioneering use of cutting-edge technologies, Linda has helped move NASA toward the use of innovative IT technologies such as cloud computing and computerbased social media Linda was awarded the Federal 100 award in 2011

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If we’ve focused on a device agnostic approach and we’ve focused on the information, then it will allow us to evolve and be responsive more quickly as technology changes.

Darren Ash

A

s the agency responsible for regulating the use of radioactive materials the Nuclear Regulatory Commission bears a heavy burden to ŗget it right.ŗ If the NRC makes a mistake, the result can be very costly CIO Darren Ash recognizes the responsibility, certainly, and focuses every day on ’getting it right ’ As CIO, Darren has fostered an information-centric approach, recognizing that information is key, not the devices used to process and manipulate information That approach has aƤorded the NRC great Ʀexibility in weathering the rapidly changing dynamics of evolving technology In addition to his CIO duties, Darren also serves as the NRC’s Deputy Executive Director for Corporate Management, and as the Chief Freedom of Information Act OƧcer and Senior Accountable OƧcial for Open Government

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Feature

What are the largest challenges that your agency will have to overcome? JACKSON

EPA

EPA is really at an interesting point in time now. The Agency grew up as separate entities, so there were a numEer oI Giƨerent oƫces. They all grew up inGiYiGually anG they haYe their silo business processes and silo technologies. I think the biggest challenge we have is how do we marry up all of that and have one EPA approach or enterprise approach to how we do things from a business process perspective so we have one business process for common services that span across the entire agency Then, from a technology perspective, how do we marry that up; understanding what do they need to accomplish and what do we need to put it in place from a technology perspective to accomplish the overall mission of the Agency There are a number of diƤerent processes there To start with, we’re in the middle of rolling out collaboration tools A new email and collaboration tool suite We have one email system We’re a little diƤerent than a lot of other agencies or departments who may have had multiple email solutions; we had one But, our email solution was our records management system for the most part and what we want to do is break down some of these silos that exist across the agency and we want to do that by putting in place collaboration tools that will accomplish that and then have oƧces work more jointly together towards initiatives that are going to drive the common eƤorts we want here at the agency as a whole

COLEMAN

GSA

GSA is an agency that proYides business serYices to other federal agencies and other goYernment customers. We are Yery businessliNe in nature we operate in a Yery businessliNe fashion and we always try to understand the serYices weśre proYiding to our customers by using them as much as possible ourselYes, internally, Ʃrst. As the federal government is moving more toward new technologies like mobile computing, social networking, cloud computing, and big data, they’re turning to GSA to help them acquire and utilize those services We seek to understand and be able to provide really good solutions by having incorporated them and used them ourselves internally ƥrst

As the federal government is moving more toward new technologies like mobile computing, social networking, cloud computing, and big data, they’re turning to GSA to help them acquire and utilize those services.

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What are the largest challenges that your agency will have to overcome? WILLIAMS

HUD

I thinN one of the largest challenges we haYe to oYercome is our ability to get our arms around the massiYe sums of program related data we haYe and to maNe that data intelligible. I am not ignoring or underplaying the technology challenges we will have to overcome, however, I think data will be the major challenge for most agencies during the 21st century I believe that we will all have to work hard to streamline our data collections and systems in order to make our data authoritative, less costly and more capable of supporting decisions This may require changes in our investment management practices, a diƤerent view and use of enterprise architecture and organizational cultural changes

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CURETON

NASA In the longterm itśs the retirement of the shuttle and the shuttle legacy and whatśs ne[t for NASA. The commercial space ƪight is where weśre going, which is turning lowearth orbit oYer to commercial entities and NASA focusing on targets near earth and beyond. Doing that and maintaining our preeminence as a spacefaring agency and maintaining the 4S preeminence as a space-faring nation is a big challenge for NASA because of the cultural shift What does it mean that we’re not Ʀying anything with a NASA meatball on it? Does that mean we’re not a spacefaring nation anymore? No, it doesn’t, because we’re still doing a lot of exploration, a lot of scientiƥc research, and a lot of spacecraft orbiting the earth, the sun, right now So, one aspect of us, which is in a transition stage, doesn’t make us not a space-faring nation And, the cultural shift that we have to go through is pretty signiƥcant In the short-term I think we have the challenges that every federal agency is having right now with the budget I just heard Leon Panetta on the news this week saying, “'ey, this is really serious,” and it is serious It’s not just a budget exercise; it’s not just a, “'ey, let’s cut ten percent and see if we can get seven ” It’s a serious eƤort and it’s a threat to our program For NASA we’re waiting for guidance about how we’re going to deal with it Just like what we all do who are public servants, we recognize that we serve the president and we recognize that we serve the public, and we do what’s necessary and what we have to do The challenge of doing that with a reduced budget is very signiƥcant

In the shortterm I think we have the challenges that every federal agency is having right now with the budget.


Feature

How will technology play a key role in solving these challenges? ASH

NRC I thinN Ʃrst and foremost, our number one—and really number one—is staying focused on safety. NRC licenses and regulates a Ʀeet of existing nuclear power plants that are operated by private companies; we regulate fuel facilities We license companies that hold nuclear materials for a variety of purposes: medical use, construction use, and so forth First and foremost, NRC must ensure the continued safety of our existing Ʀeet That means doing all the things that are necessary: inspections and oversight, remaining focused and not being distracted

JACKSON

EPA

There are quite a few technologies that we haYe to taNe a looN at. Mobile is one. Mobile is an eYolYing technology the platform, the endpoint deYices there are Must so many adYancements that are being made in the mobile space. When we begin to look at how we want to support workers, we want our workforce to be able to work from wherever they are, to be able to support the mission of our agency, we’ve got to ƥgure out how does mobile ƥt in that We have to make sure that we’re driving towards that from a strategic perspective, taking into account the technology investments we’re making This is something, the whole commercialization of mobile devices, that has just consumed our workforce and it’s a part of their lives; it’s what they do every day, day-in and day-out It’s kind of melding into the workforce as a whole So, how do we get in front of that curve? 'ow do we move from the big boxes that we’ve had in the past to thinking more broadly and longer-term IT initiatives to more modular, smaller, something that ƥts in someone’s hand and enables them to do their job? I totally support bring your own device, but we’ve got to look at it very hard and look at it from the perspective of how do we support those devices and how do we make sure that they’re secure Cyber security is so critical here because the more endpoints you have—when I say endpoints, I deƥne endpoints as devices people are using to access information— when you open yourself up to more endpoints you increase your risk from a cyber perspective So, how do we ensure that people, when they have these devices are able to do their jobs from wherever they sit, that it’s in a secure environment?

I totally support bring your own device, but we’ve got to look at it very hard and look at it from the perspective of how do we support those devices and how do we make sure that they’re secure.

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How will technology play a key role in solving these challenges? COLEMAN

GSA

GSA, liNe a lot of other agencies, is really trying to incorporate the most modern technologies because of the promise for productiYity improYements and the ability to better fulƩll our mission. Of course we haYe to do that in a time when the budget pressures are serious and are right in front of us. The challenge is to ƥnd the technologies that provide a return on investment and allow us to free up dollars that had been spent on legacy systems and incorporate those into newer technologies So, to be able to make those investments from savings generated in previous investments As an example of that, GSA was the ƥrst federal agency to move to a cloudbased solution for email and collaboration services Every agency has its own email system and some of them have many email systems GSA had one that we ran internally and in 2009 we were faced with a choice of either upgrading it or moving to the cloud, so we chose to go with the cloud-based solution which was much more economical We made that implementation, turned it on in 2011 and we are on track to save $15 million over ƥve years By doing so we can take money that had been spent to run servers—we’ve turned oƤ over 300 servers—and we can use those savings to help with mobility strategies and big data and cloud computing elsewhere GSA is one of three agencies that have a mission that is government-wide in nature We are involved

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in eƤorts that span the entire breadth of the work the Federal Government does and so we have an ability to learn and to implement and try things that others can learn from and also beneƥt from Another example of that is cloud computing which, as you know, is a service It’s not running software locally or in your organization, it’s subscribing to a service that’s delivered externally Cyber security is paramount in everything we do, so learning how to secure those services in a way that works for the Federal Government Many agencies might be using the same cloud service provider; we don’t need to each be doing the security on those We can come together and do it in a much more economical way; economical for the government and economical for the industry because they’re not responding to separate agencies requests and demands The outcome of that eƤort is FedRAMP It’s a program that supports the Obama Administration’s Cloud First Strategy and it’s a cloud security program GSA is the Program Manager, and the agencies that really drive the policy on that are GSA, D'S, and DoD But, the security protocols that come from FedRAMP can be used by any agency and they don’t have to repeat that work So, it speeds up the time to be able to use these services, it speeds time to mission, it reduces the cost with everyone not having to repeat the process, and it gives real clarity to industry about what the Federal Government expects in terms of cyber security standards and protocols

The challenge is to find the technologies that provide a return on investment and allow us to free up dollars that had been spent on legacy systems and incorporate those into newer technologies.


Feaure

WILLIAMS

HUD

I belieYe that tech nology will be at the forefront of solYing our data challenges. New technologies will be developed to address our “Big Data” challenges These technologies will allow for dynamic manipulation of large sums of data potentially from disparate sources in order to support business needs These technologies will need to be nimble, Ʀexible and cost eƤective in order to meet the changing needs of organizations and provide an ability to conduct both trend and predicative analysis

CURETON

NASA I thinN one of the most promising technologies is cloud computing. The cloud computing and its ƪe[ible, scalable, elastic nature is perfect for uncertainty, and thatśs e[actly where we are. You asked me earlier about some of the challenges and budget is one of them We don’t really have the budget to go out and buy a lot of hardware to install and then we’ll launch in ƥve years and we’ll have it sitting for ƥve years We have to start small and then scale fast There’s the promising nature of cloud computing that makes it a very promising strategy to help NASA I don’t think we’re using it as fully as we can but I think the economics and the technology value of it will drive us up I think high performance computing is very important in that we’re going to be more focused if we’re going to do more low-end requirements in the cloud, and I think that high performance computing in the cloud is even going to take oƤ But, our high performance computing capability that’s installed will be very important Finally, social media because I

mentioned one of our challenges is making sure people understand that we are still a space-faring nation That means we have to communicate to the public, to our stakeholders, in a very eƤective way and social media is just absolutely fabulous in doing something like that For example, the Mars Phoenix Rover discovered ice on Mars and so the personiƥed version of the Rover tweeted, “We have ice ” I think that’s what the tweet was, “We have ice; woot!” That is so much more powerful than, “National Aeronautic Space Administration announces that there’s a possibility they’ve discovered something ” I think in terms of helping people understand that we’re still a spacefaring nation and there’s still hope for the universe, social media is uniquely positioned because it communicates in such a personal way

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

21


What technologyrelated initiatives are you most excited about? ASH

NRC I thinN a couple of things. One is Nnowing that the folNs, the staƨ members, who do a lot of this worN are truly dependent upon solid information technology capabilities. It could be our inspector who works out in the ƥeld at a nuclear power plant We have what we call resident inspectors We have individuals who reside in a community in the area of a nuclear power plant and work there for several years We want to ensure that they’ve got the right tools, the right capabilities, not just the core infrastructure to be able to reach back to the region or to headquarters, but that they actually have the tools whether it’s a tablet PC or access to information that they need to do their job eƤectively If you’re at headquarters or at a region, that you’re getting the information you need in a timely way and it’s authoritative data for you to be able to do your analysis, to do your assessment, to make recommendations

22

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

JACKSON

EPA

Big data analytics is something that is still eYolYing. I donśt thinN weśYe really taNen oƨ there yet. It’s going to reach a point where—some sort of inƦection point that—big data analytics is going to just take oƤ, and when that takes oƤ I don’t know what the outcome of that will be I just think there are a lot of opportunities there The other thing gets into cloud; I think we’re just beginning to tap into cloud I have a lot of information on cloud; all my music is up there, I have pictures up there, my videos, movies, I have all that with me and it’s with me wherever I go When you couple that with mobile devices and big data analytics, that’s very powerful That’s extremely powerful That means you will have information with you wherever you go I contend these Smart Phones, Smart Tablets, Smart devices make all of us smarter because if you have a question you just get it answered right away I’ve just recently read that new wireless technology is going to be faster than what we currently have today which would make it very similar to streaming like what you see on television

today That’s probably a few years out, but when that capability becomes available, just think about it You’ve got big data analytics, you’ve got mobile devices, you’ve got the bandwidth The bottleneck has always been on the bandwidth because you can only push so much across the band from a wireless perspective When you open that up and make it much faster than you’re streaming everything Who needs a television? You’re walking around with the device in your hand That’s where I see things going Technology drives innovation and it drives our economy Twenty or thirty years ago you had to have a strong business case and ƥnd funding to take a product to market Today you can start up your own business in your room Just think about the innovation I just see the world changing signiƥcantly in the next ƥve to ten years


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COLEMAN

GSA Big data analytics is something that is still evolving... It’s going to reach a point where—some sort of inflection point that—big data analytics is going to just take off, and when that takes off I don’t know what the outcome of that will be.

Iśm Yery e[cited about mobility. IśYe been in IT for a while as well and people haYe been moYing in this direction and thereśs always been the promise of the ability to do your worN anytime from anywhere with any deYice and thatśs been an unfulƩlled promise until now. I think we’re really getting there I believe that’s important, again, for fulƥlling our mission but it’s also important for recruiting and retaining the most talented employees who have choices as to where they’re going to go We want them to think of GSA as a top destination, we want them to come here and work here, and I think that oƤering them a cutting-edge environment in which they can be productive and be connected is really important for our future

I’m very excited about mobility... it’s also important for recruiting and retaining the most talented employees who have choices as to where they’re going to go

WILLIAMS

HUD

Social Media, Cloud Computing and Big Data are areas that potentially oƨer a lot of promise and I am eWcited about the possibilities related to these initiatives.

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

23


What technologyrelated initiatives are you most excited about? CURETON

ASH

NASA Micropro curement, I thinN itśs really good. It sounds liNe a bureau cratśs thing. 'ardly at all, but that can really transform how we do things so I think that’s great The White 'ouse OMB has come out with a digital government strategy I like the personalization that it encourages to provide services to citizens in a way they understand We sort of get hung up on government structures and programs and, “Oh no, you go here for that, there for that,” to make it more personal and more meaningful to people I think the digital government strategy is pushing us in that direction, so I think that’s really good; I’m excited about that That’s one of the things that I think I’ll miss not being able to work on

24

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

NRC The White House OMB has come out with a digital government strategy. I really like that. I like the personalization that it encourages to provide services to citizens in a way they understand.

I thinN weśYe got some of the ŝbreadandbutterŞ type actiYities going on. We’re in the midst of migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7; that’s currently going on right now About a quarter of our workforce has already been migrated I mentioned bring-your-own-device We are going to use the same capability in a pilot with our regional staƤ, our inspectors, to be able to prove it out on agency-issued devices The other initiative is work on what we call authoritative data sources As we modernize our existing legacy systems, we’re using this concept as an opportunity to determine where the authoritative data should reside The objective of it is to reduce the number of cuƤ systems and reduce the number of interfaces so that there are true owners of speciƥc types of information that are important to other parts of the agency We’re working via our governance structure to sort through this and ultimately to reinforce the decisions Future system decisions should be inƦuenced and guided by this authoritative data source work, data standards, and data quality clean-up This all ties into points I made earlier about an information-centric approach A lot of the foundational work is going on right now


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MALCOLM JACKSON

How would you describe a more modern EPA? JACKSON

EPA

I donśt thinN youśre eYer there. I thinN itśs a Mourney itśs a Mourney because it continues to change oYer time. EPA has done a good job up to this point to get to where we are given the history of the agency, given the internal dynamics, external factors, all of those things They all factor into where you are today But, when I look at the future and where we need to go based on a number of factors, just the environment as a whole, from a budgetary perspective, some of the issues that we need to take into consideration We need to begin to look at—and it’s no diƤerent, we’re doing some of this now—the mobile workforce 'ow do we position ourselves so that we’re arming our workers to be able to do their job wherever they are? That’s one piece of it Another piece of it is there’s going to be this huge inƦux of big data and big data analytics 'ow do we accommodate and plan for all this data; structured, unstructured data? Structured being just the database stuƤ 4nstructured is with social

media and all the things that we’re receiving or will begin to receive from people who are on social media All this factors into decision making, so how do we collect all of this and then render it back in a way that makes sense for people to make decisions? I’m talking big decisions; I’m referring to laptops, desktops, or mobile devices So, you’ve got to ƥgure out how to do that I see a world where our future workers will be able to leave work and they’ll have everything they need in their pocket to be able to do their jobs I see a world where there will be a conversion of the laptop, tablet, desktop, and desk phone It’s all going to go into one or two devices We are moving in that direction now when we complete the implementation of our collaboration tools because I see desk phones going away I just migrated over the weekend and I’m able to see where people are, ping them, ask them quick questions, do instant messaging with them, I can bring them up, do quick videos There’s a lot of new things that these tools are enabling us to do And, quite frankly,

some of this I think the younger generation will come in and they’re going to drive innovative business practices that don’t exist today that we haven’t even thought of We’re just planting the seeds; we’re just getting in the middle of this, and just starting it, by the way You have to understand what the emerging technologies are and how they ƥt within our workplace because it’s so critical and you have to know it when you see it I call it manager’s intuition; having this manager’s intuition or leadership intuition that you see it and understand You may not even quite understand how it all will ƥt together, but knowing that it is something that can really drive change that’s going to be beneƥcial for your organization and I better get in early in the stage to be able to absorb it, understand it, and then get behind it and push it in the organization

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

25


MALCOLM JACKSON

How is the EPA leading the way in the creation of a mobile-first culture? JACKSON

EPA

IśYe been here two and a half years. Coming in the door I came from a world where in the priYate sector the mobile deYices, the mobile world, were really beginning to open up. When I came onboard, not soon after getting here, Apple came out with their mobile devices, the iPad and things of that nature, and I wanted to have a mobile device because I could see that’s where we were going And I believe as a technology leader you have to kind of anticipate trends, particularly major trends, and you have to know it when you see it When I saw mobile devices and an explosion there, or at least a potential explosion, I saw that as a game changer and we needed to get in front of that and look at what we do here at this agency It’s something that’s going to help us as a whole to better serve the mission of the agency overall On top of that I have to admit that some of the things I learn is kind of stumble upon We actually did an apps challenge—apps for environment challenge—and we

26

We’re going to be more knowledge experts; knowledge experts on the information and then making it available and opening it up and letting those outside the agency develop these applications.

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

just said, “We’ve got this data We want to make it available We put it out as a challenge and said, “Tell us how you might use this data ” We got 38 responses back and we didn’t oƤer any money, just crowd sourcing We did a lot of work around publicizing and making sure people understood and we got, as I said, 38 applications that were submitted and over 100 ideas And, if you looked at them, most of them were mobile based Then when we put it out on the street, the challenge, all of this rush came in around mobile devices We said, “We need to take it one step further ” So, from that we’ve actually stood up our own website, called Developer Central, because we want to understand what kind of information people want to use and how they might want to use it We put some APIs out there that are run on mobile devices We put sample code out there for iPhone, for Android, and then we’ve opened up a dialogue to understand what are some of the other information because we’ve

got the data, we just don’t know they might want to use it So, we’re beginning to understand how they might want to use that information and we want to begin to build API for that because we want to push it outside I see a world where development is going to go more outside of the agency than inside of the agency We’re going to be more knowledge experts; knowledge experts on the information and then making it available and opening it up and letting those outside the agency develop these applications We want to make this information available It’s their information; when I say their, I mean general public’s information Its environmental information and we want to understand how they might use that information


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MALCOLM JACKSON

As chair of the CIO Council’s IT Workforce Committee, what new opportunities do you see for technology professionals? JACKSON

EPA

I currently lead the IT WorNforce Committee. I am committed to looNing at our worNforce and trying to Ʃgure out what sNills we need as we go forward. A couple points when I looked at it from within EPA, I think over 60% of our workforce is 40 or over, and over 50% of our workforce is 50 and over So, as you look out over the next ƥve to ƥfteen years we’re going to lose a large percentage of our workforce So, that’s one piece of it, so there’s this institutional knowledge that exists In addition to that we’ve got a changing skill set The skill sets we have from a technology perspective 15, 20, 30 years ago are very diƤerent than what you have today You look at things like vendor management, how you manage the vendor or vendor partnerships 'ow you managed a vendor 20 or 30 years ago is very diƤerent than how you manage them today We also have to keep our eyes on emerging technology and prepare our workforce for the future

Let’s just use mobile as an example 'ow do you get in front of the curve relative to emerging technologies? Today we have mobile, but in the future there will be new technology We have cloud today 'ow do you manage cloud? 'ow do you plan for that from a technology perspective? These are all things or skill sets that don’t exist today so we have to look at it from the perspective of a couple things One is how do we attract people coming in; so what are some of the skil gaps we need to identify and begin to build relationships with colleges and universities to bring people in to replace this group of workers who are leaving Then you’ve got your transitional workers, those are approaching or around the middle part of their career 'ow do you begin to transition them to new skills and start moving them in the direction where they need to move? The third piece of this is how do you have this blended family,

because you’ve got diƤerent cultures? Today we have anywhere from three to four generations in the workforce, so how do you blend that in such a way that you build a structure that accommodates all of that So, you create the world where people that are young coming into the workforce understand that we work with some pretty neat technology here and we’re setting the stage for where the rest of the country, and in the world in a lot of cases Then you’ve got the middle turf; the early to mid part of their career 'ow do you begin to retool them as you begin to go towards the future? And then sunset, the ones that are leaving, in a way that’s respectful that they understand that they’re still learning and growing and balancing all three of these or all three to four at once

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

27


CASEY COLEMAN

How would you describe a more modern GSA? COLEMAN

GSA

I thinN a more modern GSA is right in front of us because GSA is really being Yery in tentional about moderni]ing in a way thatśs 21st century ready. We are renovating our headquarters building on 1800 F Street near the White 'ouse, and in doing that we are incorporating best practices in terms of real estate management and in terms of mobility and Ʀexibility in the workplace In moving to this oƧce—as you can see—we have Ʀexible workspaces, we have furniture that’s multipurpose, it’s very open and collaborative, and it allows people to do their work in a very collaborative and open fashion When we go back into the building at 1800 F we’re going to take that one step further because we will not even have assigned oƧces Whereas today I come and sit in this oƧce space every day, on any given day only half of any oƧce space is occupied We’ve done studies about the occupancy of GSA’s buildings and in our focus in the building and with people being out for meetings, out for travel, out for leave or whatever, sick leave, there’s a natural pattern where only about 50% of the building is occupied So, you can use that real estate much more eƤectively, save money, and allow

28

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

people to sit where their work takes them So, people will book a workspace for the day based on where their team is working, based on the people they need to coordinate with So, a building that has 2000 seats can hold 4000 employees That’s the modern GSA and that’s a lesson that we can help other agencies with because their rent is a big part of their budget If they can ƥnd ways and if we can help them ƥnd ways to better use their real estate through workspace innovations and also technologies that support that For example, if you are going to be moving about the building and not sitting in the same oƧce every day, you need lightweight mobile devices, you need wireless access, you need web meeting technologies, you need good tele-work support so you have 5PN and Citrix access and 5DI access when you’re not in the building All of those technologies and workplace innovations together are going to make us really a force for the future I would say even beyond tele-work because the idea of tele-work is the idea of working in another ƥxed location, perhaps a home oƧce or a tele-worksite that is your other work destination But, beyond that is mobility and that’s the idea of being able to work anywhere, anytime, with any device So, you might be mobile here in the

When we go back into the building at 1800 F we’re going to take that one step further because we will not even have assigned offices.


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CASEY COLEMAN

Why has big data, mobility, and cloud computing become such top initiatives for your agency and agencies in general? COLEMAN

GSA building because your work takes you around the building Even on a day I’m in the building, I’m not sitting at my desk more than a couple of hours at the most; I’m in meetings, I’m moving around, I’m coordinating and collaborating, and so I need to be able to be productive wherever I go That also carries beyond the boundaries of the building to be able to work [mobilly] whether I’m traveling or whether I’m working from home or elsewhere So that idea of mobility is, again, a priority of the Obama Administration The Digital Gov Strategy that was released by Federal CIO Steve 5anRoekel’s oƧce and that is in support of the Federal Government being more mobile, GSA is out in front trying to make that happen

I thinN because theyśre transformational. They really change and improYe our ability to fulƩll our mission in, not an incremental fashion, but a paradigm shifting fashion, so e[ponential. And they work together; for example cloud computing allows you to access critical information and documents from anywhere Mobile devices give you that endpoint mechanism that gives you a productive, secure, lightweight way to get to that critical information Social networking and collaboration tools allow you to form workgroups and get questions answered and collaborate with your colleagues and stay on touch of developing issues and policies even if you’re not in the same building So, it lets people stay connected, it lets people be productive and stay engaged as a team And then big data, really the explosion of information not even within our federal boundaries but even beyond, has important aspects in terms of how we engage with stakeholders, how we fulƥll our mission, how we draw conclusions from trends around us and make decisions So, I think it helps us with decision making and incorporating best practices, learning from industry, and in some ways I think the federal government has a story to tell to share with others and provide a path forward

Cloud computing allows you to access critical information and documents from anywhere. Mobile devices give you that endpoint mechanism that gives you a productive, secure, lightweight way to get to that critical information.

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

29


JERRY WILLIAMS

How would you describe a more modern HUD? WILLIAMS

WILLIAMS

HUD

A modern HUD would be an organization that possesses a technology platform and data enYironment that addresses its business needs, today and tomorrow, by leveraging both technology and data in a cost eƤective manner To accomplish this goal we will need to make hard choices about the types of technology we employ, re-train our employees on how to use, measure, and evaluate commodity technology solutions and how to leverage enterprise-wide technology solutions embracing the concept of “build once and use many times” On the data front we will have to make enterprise data available “any time, any place, anywhere and on any device” to all of our users and provide the tools to analyze the data for intelligence dynamically and cost eƤectively

30

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

Do you see any way to mitigate the risk of cyberrelated attacks?

HUD ...we will need to make hard choices about the types of technology we employ, re-train our employees on how to use, measure, and evaluate commodity technology solutions and how to leverage enterprisewide technology solutions...

Clearly we can neYer totally eliminate the possibility of cyberrelated attacNs. notwithstanding, I think that the Federal Government as a whole is taking and has taken a number of steps to minimize both the severity and number of occurrences of cyberrelated attacks From '4D’s perspective we continue to monitor our networks and systems, apply patches as appropriate and work with other Federal partners to identify potential threats


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JERRY WILLIAMS

How has big data, mobile, and cloud computing changed the way that HUD collects and utilizes information and disseminates information? WILLIAMS

HUD

If we are talNing about cloud computing, there is an argument that HUD has been in a cloud enYironment since 2005. We outsourced our infrastructure operations to two contractors who manage both the infrastructure and desktop operations and we only have two data centers Notwithstanding, I would argue that we are not necessarily receiving all of the beneƥts in terms of cost economies and eƧciencies from our earlier decision This is in part because we have not fully leveraged the advantages provided by the other areas you mentioned – big data, mobile and; we also need to establish eƤective service level agreements between '4D and its vendors supporting our infrastructure operations We are currently in the process of re-competing our infrastructure operations and as such have taken what we believe is a more strategic path to achieving greater interoperability, cost economies

and eƧciencies in our processes '4D’s IT Infrastructure service includes two important components: Service Delivery and Service Management Service Delivery would provide fully-managed IT infrastructure services within three important service towers: Transport Services Wide Area Network, Data Center Services, and End 4ser Services The Service Management components would include: Systems Engineering and Management Services and Automated Monitoring and Management Services

We outsourced our infrastructure operations to two contractors who manage both the infrastructure and desktop operations and we only have two data centers.

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

31


linda cureton

How would you describe a more modern NASA? CURETON

NASA I thinN that we do pretty well with the point technologies that are out there in leading edge. I think that a more modern NASA will have more modern processes I think it’s in The Innovation Gap—I think it’s in that book—we talk about innovation and what are the barriers to innovation The barriers are process-type barriers So it’s not that we don’t have these things, but we don’t have process to maintain getting them It’s a ƥght to get new technologies, it’s a battle, and the antibodies resist things like that until the organisms just overwhelm them and you just do something else I think that a more modern NASA has more modern processes We have more crisp, streamlined procurement processes to acquire innovative technology We’re better able to predict what our requirements might be as they emerge; our emerging requirements We’re very good at what are requirements right now, but innovation gets more into emerging acquirements and opportunities So, we’re thinking more about opportunities and emerging

32

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

requirements in addition to streamline processes to get us to that innovative technology much faster and integrate it into our organization And with clouds having conversations today about one of the things we’re working on to try to streamline; and I’m calling it microprocurement So, it’s easy to spend, well relatively easy to spend $100,000 or $100,000,000 or $30,000 but it’s hard to spend a dime So, some of these things that you can get into cloud costs—pennies, dimes, dollars—and it cost a lot of money to spend a dime So, it’s not something that you’re going to do a whole bunch of dimes So, how to streamline that and how to have this notion of microprocurement, buying something for small amounts of money or even free, is something that’s more sustainable in the government It sounds like, “Oh, we should do that,” but it’s not that easy

...we’re thinking more about opportunities and emerging requirements in addition to streamline processes to get us to that innovative technology much faster...


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linda cureton

How has social media changed the way you communicate and what role do you see it playing in NASA’s future? CURETON

NASA I thinN that we do pretty well with the point technologies that are out there in leading edge. I think that a more modern NASA will have more modern processes I think it’s in The Innovation Gap—I think it’s in that book—we talk about innovation and what are the barriers to innovation The barriers are process-type barriers So it’s not that we don’t have these things, but we don’t have process to maintain getting them It’s a ƥght to get new technologies, it’s a battle, and the antibodies resist things like that until the organisms just overwhelm them and you just do something else I think that a more modern NASA has more modern processes We have more crisp, streamlined procurement processes to acquire innovative technology We’re better able to predict what our requirements might be as they emerge; our emerging requirements We’re very good at what are requirements right now, but innovation gets more into emerging acquirements and opportunities So, we’re thinking more about opportunities and emerging requirements in addition

to streamline processes to get us to that innovative technology much faster and integrate it into our organization And with clouds having conversations today about one of the things we’re working on to try to streamline; and I’m calling it micro-procurement So, it’s easy to spend, well relatively easy to spend $100,000 or $100,000,000 or $30,000 but it’s hard to spend a dime So, some of these things that you can get into cloud costs—pennies, dimes, dollars—and it cost a lot of money to spend a dime So, it’s not something that you’re going to do a whole bunch of dimes So, how to streamline that and how to have this notion of micro-procurement, buying something for small amounts of money or even free, is something that’s more sustainable in the government It sounds like, “Oh, we should do that,” but it’s not that easy

...we’re thinking more about opportunities and emerging requirements in addition to streamline processes to get us to that innovative technology much faster...

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

33


DARREN ASH

How would you describe a more modern NRC?

This is one of the things I think about the digital government strategy. It comes down to an informationcentric device agnostic approach.

ASH

NRC The Ʃrst things that I thinN about are enabling our employees to worN from anywhere. What that means truly is wherever they are, be it headquarters or in the region or in a ƥeld site or in the middle of Wyoming at a uranium mining site, that they have the ability, that we’re providing the tools for them to do their job eƤectively; for them to be able to work wherever they are, to be able to interact with their peers, their colleagues wherever they are, and to be able to get whatever access or information they need to do their job eƤectively Also that we’re providing the capabilities—and I’m staying away from tools or speciƥc products—and we’re quickly being responsive to changing requirements Given limited resources, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the NRC or any other agency, when you have the resources to be able to modernize a solution, modernize an existing legacy application, or to push out a new application, a new capability, we architect it the right way the ƥrst

34

March - April 2013 · MODERN GOVERNMENT

time because there’s no guarantee those additional resources are going to be available in the coming years What I mean by that is if you’ve architected or created a solution that is not grounded in mobility but just delivery of that capability to a desktop, yet that capability would also be well served for those in a mobile sense, I would rather have architected it the right way the ƥrst time to be able to support both those who work at headquarters or the regions at a desktop, and also those who are mobile I’ll take it one step further If we’re doing it from a mobile sense, we can’t create a solution around one speciƥc product because technology changes so quickly and in a year or two that product may be obsolete I would rather have designed it the right way so we can evolve and mature so that it really is device agnostic So, if we’ve focused on a device agnostic approach and we’ve focused on the information, that it will allow us to evolve and be responsive more quickly as technology changes and still deliver that information, still

deliver those capabilities, and still be responsive This is one of the things I think about the digital government strategy It comes down to an information-centric device agnostic approach I’m not the ƥrst one to come up with it, but it’s something that I want us to embrace If we’re focused on the information and if we break things down into diƤerent levels and layers—if I’ve architected around the information as opposed to architecting a solution around how it’s presented—the information “stuƤ” is the hardest thing to rearchitect If we’ve gotten that right, then as we make changes at the presentation layer, then, in theory, it will be easier to evolve


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DARREN ASH

What benefits have been uncovered through the BYOD and tablet PC initiatives? ASH

NRC As a point of fact, weśYe gone liYe with our production Yersion of our bringyourowndeYice solution. Before going live, we chose to pilot, and we did a lot of research and talking to other agencies and other organizations about their experiences ƥrst before we turned anything on We negotiated with our partners in the union on the rules of behavior and policies, and it was signed oƤ on by both parties We talked through security, we talked through records, we talked through all the soft stuƤ that, if done right, would make the program successful Lesson number one was to focus on the softer non-technical issues, the important foundational pieces ƥrst I’m glad we did because, when we started, the market of products that were available to help manage the solution evolved The solutions that we might have gone with a year or two years ago are not what we used StaƤ reminds me that we focused on three challenging core requirements This is one of the lessons that we had The ƥrst requirement is that it’s secure and it meets with the federal standards

The second requirement is that chosen solution has to be intuitive The reason why people buy these types of products, such as a tablet PC or a SmartPhone, is that it’s intuitive You don’t have to go to a training class to learn how to use a tablet It’s intuitive, so it was important for us and important for me that the user interface reƦects that intuitiveness The third requirement is that it is cost eƤective By that, I mean that this market will continue to evolve and you want to ensure that you do this cost eƤectively because in two or three years, whatever that timeframe is, there may be a better solution or this solution may continue to mature I think we also did a good job in terms of piloting We had a pilot in the sense that there was a start date and there was an end date I was one of the participants in the pilot Our Chairman, the head of our agency, was also a participant I think we had maybe 40 or 50 people participating, a diƤerent crosscut of the agency What we liked about it was that at the end of the pilot, the solution was actually taken oƤ of my phone We stopped and we pulled back and

asked ourselves both through internal technical questions and comments and also feedback from those who used it We did a survey, we had a SharePoint site where people gave feedback as well, their experiences through the process, and that allowed us to know what worked, what didn’t work, and what we needed to change It also allowed us to think through, before we went to production, what are we going to do in terms of adding additional capabilities over the next three months, six months, next year? Again, it was a pilot in a true sense where you actually started and stopped Thinking about when the solution was wiped from my phone at the end of the pilot, I was going downtown for a meeting and I got the warning I knew it was coming All of a sudden, I see the message and they wiped it That’s what I liked about the solution we went with, in this case a secure container approach It wiped the solution, and it didn’t touch anything else on the phone

MODERN GOVERNMENT · March - April 2013

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Modern Government - March/April 2013