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White House and Cyber Security Crackerjacks
Cyber's all firecrackers. Mandiant pointed the finger east - but will it inhibit public-private information sharing? Uncle Sam's supply chain's under scrutiny - is that really Intel inside? The Hill's flexing - will Wolf's Section 516 make NASA, Justice, Commerce, and NSF iPad-free zones? And, as if that's not enough, we're all going to PRISM - as Snowden challenges Assange on the tin whistle.
So, what's ahead - and how does the President view the cyber frontier? Earl Crane, Director for Federal Cybersecurity, National Security Staff at the White House, will provide an Oval Office view on Federal cyber security when he keynotes at the Cyber Security Brainstorm on July 24. We're chasing EOP with a shot of DHS cyber leadership - Bobbie Stempfley on the operational view. Then dive into the sessions - and it's all crackerjacks.
Will continuous monitoring succeed? Hear from Jeff Eisensmith, CISO, DHS; Gil Vega, CISO, Energy; and Dr. Ron Ross at NIST.
How to get a better grip on mobile? Hear from Dr. Mark Althouse, senior mobility tech director, NSA; Major Linus Barloon II, White House Communications Agency; and Greg Youst, chief mobility engineer/CTO, DISA.
What's new in threats - and is a good offense really the best defense? Hear from Rear Admiral Robert E. Day, Jr., Coast Guard Cyber Command; Mike Krieger, Deputy CIO, Army; and Eric Rosenbach, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, DoD.
All that, and leading Federal cyber security awards program.
With more than 300 government registered, we're feeling pretty secure about the turnout. There are only 50 seats left - don't wait around to register. Hope to see you on the 24th.
Network Not Work?
Fed IT's all change. Cloud. Big Data. Mobility. Everybody wants more for less, or the same for much, much less. More devices, more applications, and more mandates riding government systems. Who's getting squeezed in Uncle Sam's IT makeover? First, it's IT pros - we got that. But, next in line is the network - the glue that holds IT together. If the network's not working, nothing's getting done.
So, if you're a Fed network pro - or FedNetPro - you're really on the rack. Like some game of high-stakes Twister, you have to put your left foot on mobility, your right arm on security, a knee into data center consolidation, and you bet your arse on the thin electronic line that connects everything together. One mistake and IT goes from Twister to Operation.
But hey, money talks and rubbish walks. Consider that Uncle Sam will spend $54 billion this year maintaining the steady state. Thirty percent of that budget funds network operations - back of the envelope, that's $16 billion. So, how do we get better for our money? What about new ideas? Based on a recent 1105 study there seems to be an appetite for change.
That's why we're hosting the MeriTalk Federal Forum on August 6 at the Ronald Reagan Building. The program focuses on the Future of Federal Agency Networks. An opportunity for FedNetPros to wind down and bone up. Get the latest on Big Data, virtualization, data centers, and software-defined networking. Our keynote speaker is Terry Halvorsen, Navy CIO. Other confirmed speakers include Bernie Mazer, CIO, Interior; Xavier Hughes, CIO, Labor; Wolf Tombe, CTO, CBP, DHS; Dr. Michael Valivullah, CTO, NASS, USDA; and many more. So this is the straight skinny from other FedNetPros - no stretching the truth.
Net, think 3-2-1. Three tracks, one each for the policy maker, the network manager, and those perfectly fluent in network techspeak. Two breakout sessions for each track, built around government professionals and bona-fide technology experts. And, we know you're stretched - for time and money. So, the program's compressed to one day in one location. It's in D.C. - cutting down on travel for locals. We start at 8 a.m. - you're done by 3 p.m. And, it's free to government agencies.
Space is limited - pretty sure we can squeeze you in - register today. For FedNetPros, with FedNetPros, by FedNetPros. Hope to see you at the Federal Forum.
The consumerization of IT in D.C. is like the 17-year cicadas. Lots of hype. But, so far, crickets. As BlackBerrys go down like flies in other markets -Feds are still infested. Mobile Work Exchange - MeriTalk's sister organization - decided to dissect OMB’s Digital Government Strategy to understand Uncle Sam's mobile metamorphosis - give it up for Kafka.
The study, titled “Digital Government Strategy: A Moving Target,” is based on a survey of a swarm of Fed IT execs who are dialed into their agencies' mobile plans. Here's the flyby on the findings. Net upfront - if mobility is sushi, Feds like sushi.
Feds are twisting and shouting about the benefits of mobility. Forty-eight percent point to communication benefits. Forty-seven percent flag productivity gains. Thirty-three percent cite advances in customer service delivery. Mobility's a game changer.
Crawling the Crawl:
Agencies are making progress in mobilization, but behind on enterprise inventories of mobile devices and wireless service contracts. The Strategy required all agencies to audit by November 2012. Only 59 percent understood their inventory by April 2013. On the upside, 52 percent note that their agency's mobility strategy has matured in the last year - and 43 percent gave their agencies' efforts to comply with the Strategy an A or B grade.
So, if mobility's boosting performance, what's zapping our progress? No shocker here. Top three issues - 73 percent say security, 60 percent say budget, and 42 percent point to policy barriers. And, Feds are taking a different path to mobile security than corporations - leading with training over tech. Sixty-five percent of Feds say their employees receive mobile security training - which means 35 percent don't. Sixty-eight percent of agencies provide written mobile security information to their employees - which means that 32 percent don't.
And, what of the automated bug swatters? While 58 percent tell us their agency has implemented encryption, only 35 percent say they have multi-factor authentication for mobile devices. Just 32 percent have remote lock and wipe control. Implementation of automated mobile management software is rising. Forty-three percent say their agencies use automated software updates, but only 16 percent have installed full mobile application management. Interesting, Feds anticipate significant mobile management tech investment by 2015.
Change on the Wing:
Feds tell us there's a good deal of development in progress - scholarships, benefits look up, and weather alerts prominent customer facing mobile apps. And, agencies are starting to get to grips with write once use many - nine percent have internal mobile app stores.
While a senior Fed cyber security exec recently referred to BYOD as Bring Your Own Disaster, Feds are upbeat about BYO. Forty percent of Feds say that they're either operating BYOD today - or anticipate implementing in the next 24 months. Feds tell us we need a coherent reimbursement policy for BYOD to really hatch.
Seems the Digital Government Strategy chefs at OMB have a winning recipe. You can access Feds' reviews here. Mobility's mouthwatering. Now, let's see about those cicadas...
House Hearing - FDCCI And Cloud Get Skooled
OMB promised $3 billion in FDCCI savings by 2015. Cloud was to reset IT economics. It's time to separate the talk from the truth. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Connolly are holding a hearing on May 14 at 2:30 p.m. to call in the marker. OGR Chairman Issa has a strong hand in the proceedings - significant implications for FITARA. GSA tells us that we've shuttered 420 data centers. Longitude and latitude - but no dollar-savings data. So, the law makers want to know how much we have saved. What are the bottom-line benefits? Which agencies are doing it right? What do we need to accelerate savings?
Considering cloud, the Hill wants to know what's with the traffic jam on FedRAMP?
Given the topics, it's a pity neither OMB nor GSA can make the hearing...
The IT police at GAO are releasing a new report - “Data Center Consolidation, Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal.” MeriTalk's also releasing a new study - “The FDCCI Big Squeeze.”
Here's who's testifying:
-Bernie Mazer, CIO, Department of Interior, and co-chair of the Federal CIO Council FDCCI Taskforce
-Dave Powner, Director, IT Management Issues, GAO
-Teresa Carlson, VP Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
-Kenyon Wells, VP of U.S. Federal, CGI
-And, yours truly
We're all going to school to learn about IT cost savings - and the current state of play on FDCCI and cloud - so it's only fitting that the hearing takes place at George Mason University. Hosted in Connolly's district, the setting underlines the Congressman's commitment to data center optimization.
Federal IT operators are working hard to deliver results in the sequestration squeeze. There's no new money to fund data center closures and the cloud transition - and they're not free.
Hope you can join us. Space is limited - so plan to arrive early.
CIO Council - VanRoekel's Version
While the flash and sizzle of Vivek's velocity have fizzled, the Federal CIO Council has not stalled. Here's the skinny on VanRoekel's version - it's insightful to get a peak inside the tent.
Dynamic Duo - SS&SS
The CIO Council's getting beyond IT. Bigger than the IT function, Strategic Sourcing is all about better procurement. Headed by Joe Jordan at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the Strategic Sourcing working group brings together agency leadership, procurement officers, and yes of course, CIOs.
And, running alongside Strategic Sourcing, we have the other big bet - Shared Services. Yes, this is where cloud and FDCCI hype meets cold-hard steel. This is the CIO Council's response to GAO's duplicate systems report - Uncle Sam certainly doesn't need 777 supply chain or 600+ HR systems. And, speaking of reports, the CIO Council is working on a report of its own on Shared Services - it's all about how to go from talk to transactions. The truth of the matter is that Shared Services success is all about leadership - that's code for conflicts among agency CIOs, component CIOs, and agency mission owners. Yes, there's pain ahead.
No one can ignore the allure of mobile computing - cost efficiencies and popular acclaim. The CIO Council's engaged with NIST, DoD, and NSA to drive use-case architectures for mobility. Logically, the working group’s looking at security - HSPD-12 app anyone? - and BYOD/policy. Mobile development's another key focus - how do we get government to write native mobile apps, rather than bolt them on later?
As the tech's moving so fast, Feds don't want to buy the cow - they're more interested in getting their mobile milk as a service. And, speaking of milk as a service, Shared Services is getting an early start in mobility. The CIO Council's looking hard at how to deliver a mobile shared service - before agencies build out their own redundant platforms.
John Streufert's not trying to take the hill on his own. The CIO Council's hosting a Continuous Monitoring working group. Chaired by Jeff Eisensmith at DHS and Kevin Dulany at DoD, the group's meeting every fortnight. With 150 participants from across government, it's clear there's strong interest in the new security paradigm.
CIOpedia - Best Practices
All sounds good - but don't forget the block-and-tackle information sharing. How's the CIO Council helping new recruits that don't speak government IT? The CIO Council has set up a best-practice exchange to help bring new Feds up to speed. And yes, it features a wiki - CIOpedia, structured in 13 segments. This government-only resource comes online in June.
Pub With No Beer?
It's difficult to talk about the CIO Council without asking about the viability of agency CIOs' authority and control. Shared Services and Strategic Sourcing certainly aren't gimmies. Mr.VanRoekel has some impressive initiatives and working groups in place. That said, the CIO Council without empowered, motivated CIOs is like the pub with no beer - who'd want to come back?
Heavens Above - Augmented Reality
The program has celestial "mobilenauts" as speakers, including keynotes Tonya Schreiber, Deputy CAO at FEMA; Kevin Cox and Robert Palmer from the Mobile Technology Tiger Team for the Federal CIO Council; and Major General Robert E. Wheeler, Deputy CIO for C4IIC at the DoD. Orbit the full program guide online here. It's all about transforming the Federal government with mobile IT and telework - register to attend now.
Inspired or Ex-Spired?
Given the timing for Richard Spires going on leave – the net takeaway is that IT reform and Federal CIOs should beware the ides of March...
SDN – Infrastructure to Go?
What does IT really need? “A new TLA,” I hear you cry. After cloud and big data, seemed we’d consigned our old friend to the obit pages. But wait, it appears there’s still a spark of life in the old girl. Enter SDN – Software Defined Networking. It’s poised to both turn IT economics upside down and ensure nobody in the real world has any idea what we’re all rabbiting on about.
Here’s the skinny. SDN makes large enterprise and cloud networks cheaper and easier to run – it’s like virtualization for the network. And, it makes the network more nimble – accelerating time to delivery and putting the brakes on cost for fielding new applications. It promises to cut our addiction to expensive switches, routers, and software. Read more here – but best I can tell, it comes down to open vs. proprietary and software vs. hardware.
Metrics & Meaning
But a few stats are worth a thousand blandishments. Not disinterested SDN evangelist trumpet that organizations can lop a cool half mill off set up and running cost for a rack of 40 blade servers – FDCCI anyone? And, try this on for size – a chance to cut 50 percent off your networking bill.
The Federal Case
If SDN performs like the package, the payoff could be huge. Let’s say networking accounts for 10-15 percent of the total IT budget. Cutting that figure in half could save Uncle Sam $6 billion off the top – $80 Billion x 15 percent = $12 Billion, x 50 percent = $6 Billion.
Blood in the Network
No wonder Cisco’s chagrined… As Cisco and other “swouter” – switch/router – giants gnash, Brocade and VMware taste blood in the network. Anthony Robbins’ rowdies snapped up Vyatta and Aileen Black’s backers dropped a cool $1.3 Billion for Nicira. So be on the lookout for an SDN pitch in a mailbox near you.
Three questions for the dismount:
1. Bling Thing – Will SDN live up to the early hype?
2. Switch Sides – Will Cisco, Juniper, and the like turn cannibal to assuage the carnage?
3. Federal Franchise – How quickly can Uncle Sam cash in?
Register now for the MeriTalk Federal Forum focused on the Future of Federal Networks – August 6th at Reagan Building. Learn where we’re headed and how to save – coz savings make Uncle Sam happy.
No tea last week, so here’s a double pour - or a full teapot to be more accurate. And, be careful, it's hot.
OMB launched a data center consolidation initiative in 1995. Clearly that was a huge success...
Did anybody else see OMB's March 27th memo? The title certainly was designed to bury it - "Fiscal Year 2013 PortfolioStat Guidance: Strengthening Federal IT Portfolio Management." Seems FDCCI is dead again - and it's not the only Fed IT accountability casualty.
Don't be put off by the length of the memo - pages 8 to 11 are an addendum, you don't need to read it to get the gist. And, if you don't have time to read the memo, I quote from it extensively - consider this the Cliffs Notes.
Where to start? Let's go with page one. "The results of the PortfolioStat so far have been significant - agencies identified and committed to nearly 100 opportunities to consolidate or eliminate commodity IT." Who? What? How much? When? In this era of open government, would it be reasonable to expect OMB to publish the list? I'll return to this theme time and again.
"Evidence suggested that many agencies are managing IT in a decentralized manner, missing opportunities to leverage enterprise scale and leading to inefficiencies and duplication in the allocation of IT resources." And this is new news - how? Believe OMB raised these issues with the abacus.
FDCCI -- Under the Carpet?
OMB's pushing together PortfolioStat with FDCCI. The memo tells us FDCCI is supposed to close 40 percent of Uncle Sam's data centers by FY2015. It asserts that agencies closed 420 data centers by February 2013. Congratulations to OMB and GSA - there’s even a site that lists the closures. It’s not listed in the memo, but should be. It tells us the latitude and longitude of the defunct data centers – but sadly not the hard cost savings associated with the closures.
And, here's the kicker in the very next paragraph. "To more effectively measure the efficiency of an agency's data center assets, effective immediately, agency progress under the FDCCI will no longer be solely measured by closures." Wow. And, it gets better. The new yard stick is TCO. But, OMB will not make public its TCO model - open government anybody?
"To enable this [efficiency measurement], the FDCCI Task Force shall develop energy, facility, labor, storage, virtualization, and cost per operating system metrics." Wow. Again, how far are we into this FDCCI thing? Yes, it kicked off in February 2010. And OMB says we have no metrics? Don't they know there's no point in looking at energy costs - data center owners don't pay the bill... And again, we know OMB already has a data center TCO model.
Rearranging the Deck Chairs...
Intel 286 chip anybody? The memo contains the acronym IRM. We're supposed to be going forward. I haven't heard anybody use IRM since Karen Evans weighed anchor at EOP... Maybe it's part of the '80s revival?
The "new data collection" approach looks suspiciously like the old data collection approach - except the lines have been moved to give the illusion of movement. The Integrated Data Collection process promises a cornucopia of new intelligence and insight on agencies' progress in saving money - the baby's due May 15th. But hold the cigars - haven't we heard this stuff time and time again? Is it me, or is the reveal always a disappointment?
And here's the classic rebaseline. Agencies no longer need to report commodity IT consolidation plans under PortfolioStat or as part of the Enterprise Roadmap. And, saving the best for last - no more FDCCI reports.
Each April 30, agencies are required to "provide the Federal CIO with a written certificate with a listing of all cloud services that an agency determines cannot meet the FedRAMP security authorization requirements with appropriate rationale and proposed resolution." Apparently this too will be rolled into the Integrated Data Collection initiative. Will this list be public? What are the implications of failing to do this? What if the required cloud services are not available under FedRAMP? Does it apply to private clouds? Is DoD going to play ball?
Definition of Insanity
Assume the same behavior and expect a different outcome. OMB's recommendations to realize real efficiencies and cost savings:
-Empower CIOs - we all hope FITARA and/or S.801 can succeed where Clinger Cohen failed
-Strengthen IT Portfolio Governance - does anybody remember CPIC and EVM? I’m actually speaking at the CPIC Forum
-Advanced Service Delivery - which agencies are doing this? How much have they saved?
TQM, BPR, Zero-based Budgeting - sounds like the same old cocktail that gave us the hangover in the first place.
Mark Your Calendar
And, here's the dismount, mark your calendars:
-May 15th - Agencies will submit to OMB draft versions of their IRM Strategic Plans and Roadmaps
-June 19th - OMB will "complete its analysis, use the data submitted by agencies to prepare metrics used at PortfolioStat sessions, determine the state of an agency's IT portfolio management, share feedback with the agencies, and develop an agenda tailored to the unique findings of each agency"
-July 31st - Agency PortfolioStat leads will take a two-hour PortfolioStat review session. And, everybody’s invited - COO, CIO, CFO, CAO, CHCO, PIO. Inclusive is a good thing. Goal to review the draft Strategic IRM Plan, Enterprise Roadmap, and the first Integrated Data Collection report
-August 31st, November 30th, February 18th and the last day of each quarter thereafter - agencies shall update their Integrated Data Collection reports
“No later than two weeks after the transmittal to Congress of the President’s Budget for FY2015, agencies shall document and catalog successes, challenges, and lessons learned through the process, submit a consolidated document to OMB, and update their IRM Strategic Plan.”
Will these documents ever see the light of day?
Blah, Blah, Woof, Woof
The net takeaway - other than the Big-Bang theory, which is beyond my ken, from nothing comes nothing. We need to listen to the operators in the agencies to understand how to reprioritize Federal IT to make a real difference. It's not about handing down mandates. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We know that there’s no new money to invest in Fed IT - so we need to generate savings from the existing base in order to reinvest to make a difference. FDCCI’s dead, like its ancestor in 1995. Dare I ask, what about the promised $3 billion in FDCCI savings by 2015?
The smart kids will wait OMB out. You just have to wait a year or two, and they’ll change their minds.
Sixteen Candles with Molly Ringwald
It’s that time again - happy birthday to me.
We invite you to join us to celebrate 16 years of O’Keeffe & Company, MeriTalk’s sister organization.
And, just to make sure you don’t forget our sweet 16, we’ve invited Molly Ringwald in for the bash.
“What’s happening hot stuff?” Yes, that Molly Ringwald. "Underpants - girl’s underpants." The Molly Ringwald. "I can’t believe this. My parents f***ing forgot my birthday." That girl.
So if you’re a jock or a geek, remember, this is a great social opportunity for us. Join us to raise a glass at Ireland’s Four Provinces in Falls Church, Va on May 16. All the cool kids are coming. Register now to secure your spot.
We’ll be rockin’ the ‘80s tunes. We can’t guarantee Jake Ryan, but we can guarantee Oliver Ryan. Hang on to your underpants.
Go ahead, make a wish. 16 candles. 16 years. 16 ozs. It already came true.
Deus Ex Machina
As the conclave considers, all eyes look for the cloud of white smoke. Fear not, this cup’s not a cloud sermon.
Like the Holy Roman Church, Fed IT is looking for salvation. Cardinals Issa, Carper, and Connolly are driving reformation legislation. Having set aside the heretic 25 Commandments, OMB’s looking for Deus Ex Machina - a painless way to cut cost. A new MeriTalk study, "Infrastructure Independence: Set My IT Free," offers a new path to the promised land. The title even sounds like Moses doesn’t it? Based on a survey of Fed CIOs and IT managers, the study parts the sea of trouble - pointing to the potential for $15.8 billion in savings from greater network diversity.
Virtues of Variety
The study tells us most everybody’s reading off the same hymn sheet - 95 percent of Fed IT leaders see the benefits of riding more than one IT infrastructure horse. Forty-five percent believe more providers are better as they drive down acquisition cost. It’s amazing what you can negotiate.
Paradox of Faith
While most Fed IT folks have diversity religion, fully 41 percent confess that their agency has not considered introducing additional manufacturers into their network infrastructure. Blasphemous as it may be, 5 percent of agencies report a “monoplatform” theology.
Sins of Commission?
If we know what’s right, why are we doing what’s wrong? Fingers point to acquisition. Seventy-six percent of Fed IT leaders report their agency’s procurements sometimes specify a manufacturer. Again, why? Sixty-five percent justify this bigotry as it ensures compatibility with existing infrastructure, 17 percent say it’s driven by management preference, and 11 percent say a single-supplier approach saves time.
So, let’s go deeper - what’s spurring the sinning? Forty-two percent believe diversity will impede network performance. A significant number believe there’s no way out - 30-40 percent heap the shame on vendor lock in.
And, it’s tough to get on the road to righteousness - 47 percent of agencies test new equipment in a production environment built in their current infrastructure.
The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
But Fed IT’s not necessarily condemned. Apostles for change exist within our ranks. Ninety-four percent of agencies with diverse network infrastructures report savings. Download the study to get religion.
Word from inside the conclave is that the Vatican’s embracing diversity. Seems Fed IT could benefit from a broad-church approach. Perhaps it’s time to switch direction? Amen brother.
Like a fossil from Jurassic Park, Yahoo's trying to make telework extinct. Ironic that Marissus Mayosaurus should hatch this week as workplace evolution's on the march. Next week is Telework Week (TW), run by MeriTalk's sister organization Mobile Work Exchange. More than 106,000 warm-blooded folks have already pledged to telework. Some warmer blooded than others. Australia's government's down - or down under - with TW. TW's really global. Goes to show Men at Work don't have to be in the office.
Yahoo to Boohoo
So, while Yahoo's crying - and Silicon Valley's tech leaders are gobbling up its best refugees - Uncle Sam's smiling. For once, not the butt of the joke, the Federal government's enjoying a leadership role in telework. Feds make up better than 90 percent of TW pledges.
Cold Hard Facts
TW's booming. Last year, 71,000 took the pledge. Based on empirical 2012 TW data - extrapolated to the Federal workforce - Feds would save $5 billion per year in commute costs. That's powerful mojo for government employees trapped in a three-year pay ice age. Gas prices haven't gone down - so look out for likely higher savings this year.
Seventy percent of agencies last year noted increased productivity during TW. What do employees say? Majority - 69 percent - noted preference for jobs that offer telework.
Take the Pledge
But Yahoo's yikes is the telework threat - yesterday's thinkers trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle. Speaking of dinosaurs, telling that Donald Trump came out against telework. More open and agile minds are in our corner - three cheers for Richard Branson.
Don't sit at home on your laurels - you need to demonstrate your support for telework. And, TW is the perfect platform. Go ahead - pledge to promote progress. Individuals, government, and industry all have a role to play. Hats off to Cisco and Citrix for supporting TW.
Report a Raptor
To be clear, I'm not saying every agency's tumbled for telework. Let us know where the dinosaurs live - click on Report a Raptor to call out agencies that are Team Telework or Team Yahoo.
It's up to you to determine telework's fate. Like Jurassic Park, there are monsters among us. We need to work together to control Marissus Mayosaurus, the Donald, and Teleworkosaurus Wrecks everywhere. It's us or them - don't underestimate the adversary. Clever girl...
Google Cars and Continuous Monitoring
If I make my living driving - and as the son of a London cab driver, this hits close to home - I've got a weather eye in the rearview mirror watching Google changing lanes. Will Google's self-driving cars push me off the road?
But if automation's bad for the automated, it promises huge dividends for the rest of us. And, in some cases, the automated are celebrating the changes. Enter DHS Continuous Monitoring - the $6 billion cyber security juggernaut that promises to revoke driving privileges for bad guys on the information super highway. Many CIOs and CISOs see CM as a way to turn their jalopies into bat mobiles.
Less is More
FISMA's FUBAR – nobody's arguing that one. Spending one in four cyber security dollars on a 300-page system audit every three years doesn't cut it in a world where threats change every minute. There are 1,100 controls in FISMA - but that doesn't mean we need to test every system against every control. Ron Ross and the NIST team never intended that. The truth of the matter, we need to cut the cholesterol to boost security.
Most importantly, this is not about technology - it's about a policy shift. We need to explain to the Hill, IGs, and OMB, that it's not about doing more with less - it's about doing less better, and doing it all the time.
If we're to realize a policy shift, CIOs and CISOs need to pull together on the same lariat. The whole community needs to explain to leadership that CIOs and CISOs must be empowered to make executive decisions about the right security controls to implement. And - I know this sounds crazy in government - which controls to let out of the corral. To be clear, this is not about slacking off on security. IT needs to demonstrate rigor in making the case for what to do and what not to do. Execs need to take real responsibility and back decisions with hard data. To succeed, SANS Institute and other think tanks tell us we need to focus on 20-30 common controls - and implement them across government.
So, which controls make it to the rodeo? This is a good time to introduce the old nutshell - RoI of cyber security. At the January 31 Cyber Security Exchange meeting, CISOs told us 80-90 percent of security breaches are associated with 5-10 percent of controls. So how about we let agency cyber defenders make the call about where and how to defend - and hold them accountable for those decisions? Isn't that what executive means?
Never fear, I’m not talking about Roswell or JFK. In that same January Cyber Security Exchange meeting we heard that 80-90 percent of the cyber security vulnerabilities at Federal agencies are common across respective agencies' cyber security audits. But, tragically there's little or no information sharing among agencies. Ironically, Federal agencies are failing in cyber because they're failing to conspire. Each agency is collecting its own cyber vulnerability and threat information, but failing to share that data with other agencies - either because they're afraid of looking weak or because the data's trapped in proprietary formats or both.
It's time for Feds to open up to one another - and further to set up a machine-readable clearing house for cyber security intelligence. And, yes, there's a reference back to the Google cars – if alerts were machine readable, humdrum updates could be automated, leaving expensive humans to focus on higher value, analytic tasks.
A big pour this week - the cup's flowing over into the saucer. John Streufert and Continuous Monitoring promise much needed new efficiency. But the change is not simply about new technology - it's about new thinking and IT empowerment as well as accountability. The question, is Uncle Sam up for riding shotgun? Afraid that's not a question you can Google.
CIO ♥ FDCCI?
Data center consolidation, or more appropriately, optimization, is every CIO's valentine when it comes to saving real money. It's no wonder Feds have such a crush - we spend about $40 billion every year on these processing hunks. But, are we getting more efficient?
With the promise of $3-5 billion in savings, congressmen and senators want to know. That's why Fed CIOs are lining up to speak at the Data Center Brainstorm on March 7 at the Newseum. In an environment where Fed IT conferences are love sick, the top 100 Fed data center pros will gather, teach, learn, and share. Check out the program and you'll soon swoon.
Roger That - Veterans Deliver Benefits
The morning opens with a keynote from Roger Baker. And, VA is the perfect agency to kick off the program. It had the most aggressive targets under FDCCI - with a goal to shrink from 87 to four data centers by 2015. We're all keen to hear about successes.
Six-Pack Apps - Energy and Diet Considerations
Who's not trying to get in great shape - even post-Valentine's Day? In the data center, that means fewer apps - flatten that belly. Join Anil Karmel from Energy and Rory Schultz from USDA as they focus on burning off mission-critical apps - beyond consolidated email. How do we shift from consolidation to transformation?
Like every great romance, we pair off and get to the serious business of home making. This session looks at the transition to megacenters. How do agencies select which data centers they love - and which to spurn? And, importantly, how do agencies go about capitalizing megacenters to enhance infrastructure and capacity? Bernie Mazer, Interior CIO and co-chair of the CIO Council FDCCI committee; and Darren Smith, NOAA's high-performance computing guru, talk nesting and build-out. Quick public safety warning - last time Bernie spoke in a MeriTalk program the earth moved.
Who Do You Love?
Next, the Federal IT community recognizes the data center sweethearts with the Optimize awards. There's been a lot of talk about the challenges associated with data centers. A round of applause for the Feds that are making the tough decisions and realizing real results. No, it's not the Oscars - but we are recognizing real star power. And, speaking of star power, rumor has it, Data Center Dave will put in a cameo.
Show Me Your Love
And, we round off the day with a focus on the three Ms - management, metrics, and mandates. Join Simon Szykman, CIO at Commerce; James Flanagan, Deputy CIO at NRC; and Dave Hinchman, Data Center lead at GAO. Love for consolidation meets cold hard TCO and the business case. What do Feds need to make FDCCI a winning proposition?
All that and most of your afternoon handed back to you. We've structured the conference with consolidation in mind - kick off at 8 a.m., finished by 2:30 p.m. Space is limited. Register now. If you're worried about traffic, join Walt Bigelow of ATF and R.J. Meyers of EPA on the data center bus.
Federal Data Centers. CIOs. All the government leaders. Awards. Data Center Dave. What's not to love?
The S Word…
No pay raise for three years. Zero bonuses. Add in a heaping spoon of scorn and derision. Who'd want to work for Uncle Sam? With Sequestration on the slate – and the threat of furloughs and 20 percent pay cuts on the horizon – a growing number of Feds are eyeing the door. And, if the IT workforce logs off, every American will feel the pinch. Delayed tax refunds, lines at the airports, dodgy weather reports. Without our cyber warriors on guard, the welcome mat’s out for hackers.
Remember the 70’s?
Is it realistic that Feds will bail in this economy? Well, consider, what if it's not a wholesale walk out? What if it's a work-to-rule? Feds will watch for the small hand to hit the five – and head for the door. No more uncompensated overtime.
Consider the "dream sheets" – or properly, preference sheets – required in the Defense Talent Management System. These encourage rising Fed IT pros to indicate their dream jobs. Nobody's expressing interest in filling the top IT jobs. Seems dream assignments are becoming nightmare scenarios.
What if IT Gets Better?
While the S threat's bad, the potential for an economic turnaround is disastrous. If the commercial market perks up, there'll be no good IT folks left in government.
Uncle Sam needs to get smarter on IT recruitment and retention if we want to improve outcomes. Good IT folks ain’t cheap and they bolt fast. When the S hits the fan, contractors will be the ultimate winners. Pretty soon all IT work’ll have to be outsourced.
Telework or the Tooth Fairy?
When the Telework Exchange, MeriTalk's sister organization, launched in 2005, Federal telework was Santa, or the tooth fairy. A nice idea for a few early believers - that still fewer had seen with their own eyes. Cast your mind back to 2005. Saddam got a glimpse at the gallows. The Fatherland got the Merkel. Benedict XVI got red shoes. W got a new lease on Penn Ave. A Williams won Wimbledon - some things never change. "Brangelina" came out. And, the BlackBerry was cutting-edge technology. Wow, that seems like a long time ago.
Back to the Future
Fast forward to today. The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act changed the world. In 2012, OPM reported 32 percent of all Feds are eligible to telework - and one in four Feds are teleworking. Already more than 35,000 Feds have pledged to participate in Telework Week this March. Based on last year's Telework Week, Feds could pocket $5 Billion per year via teleworking - and that's appealing in a three-year wage-freeze zone. And, we've moved beyond fairy tales to hard-edged economics - OPM says Uncle Sam saved $30 million per day in D.C. alone by teleworking during Snowmaggedon.
Wendell Joice, Billy Michael, the team at GSA, John Berry, Kim Wells, and let's not forget Danette Campbell at USPTO, should take a bow. In these Fed-bashing times, you improved the lot of your colleagues and boosted productivity for the tax payer. Today, Feds no longer view work as a place you go.
Tilting at Phone Poles?
So, if the telework genie's out of the bottle, do we need a public-private group dedicated to pulling the stopper? Good question. Well, the answer is yes and no. Is there a danger that telework haters will mount a new offensive? Hell yes. So the group needs to continue to foster the forces of enlightenment - but it's time to push the envelope.
The Mobile Work Exchange
So what's next? Focus on productivity - recognizing the confines of the office are obsolete. That's why the Telework Exchange is now the Mobile Work Exchange. The focus for the reinvented public-private partnership - how can IT and policy deliver enhanced secure productivity? Is the technology ready? What's the path forward for BYOD reimbursement? Feds can't foot Uncle Sam's phone bill.
It's all about trust, flexibility, and agility. Telework has exposed the truism - it's all about productivity, and government needs to get into the 20th century on performance management. No, that's not a typo.
So that's the new frontier. Keep the telework fire burning, but at the same time leap forward to the next frontier. Focus on the power of mobility to change the face of government and deliver new efficiencies. Ready to mobilize? Check out the April 30 Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall Meeting - focus on Mobilology [and I'm pretty sure that's a made up word].
Saddam Hussein's last words - “I'll be hanged if they expect me to keep using this bloody BlackBerry.”
I've been in and around Federal IT for 20 plus years. People have called me cheeky. Well I'm toning down the grins and irreverence for this installment. Reading this week's new GAO report made me shake my head. I typically listen to the opening speaker at the Fed 100 - then head for the door. But with this report, I made it beyond the executive summary - I read every painful page of the paper. It's 21 pages. I'm providing the CliffsNotes - but I suggest that you get a cup of coffee and read the whole thing. Here are the "highlights":
- Nobody knows what Feds spend on IT - but it's a whole lot more than reported in the budget. How can we increase efficiency if we don't know what we spend?
- Rampant systems duplication - with 777 supply chain systems we need a supply chain system to track our supply chain system inventory
- Agencies spend 73 percent of "defined" IT budget on maintaining old systems
- Significant O&M program management blind spots
- IT Dashboard says almost $12.5 billion in IT projects at risk
- DOD says none of its IT projects are at risk
- $3 billion worth of IT projects are without governance
- Data center diaspora and dollar discrepancies. Only three of 24 agencies submitted data center inventories and only one has a complete consolidation plan
- OMB's 25-Point Plan problems - where's the finish line?
- Cloud challenges - what about security and why did some agencies miss the Cloud First bus?
And then, there's the breakout of failed IT programs:
- $375 million on NARA Electronic Records Archive
- $1 billion on DHS SBInet
- $231 million on OPM Retirement Systems Modernization
- $1 billion on Air Force Expeditionary Combat Support
- Major flag on Navy's NMCI follow on - Next Gen
Candidly, I was surprised that there weren't more awkward questions at Monday's hearing.
Mr. VanRoekel's perspective - mostly everything's hunky dory. Find that difficult to reconcile with the report. Tom Davis underlined need for change. Two hundred and forty-three Fed CIOs - no one in charge...
Here's the dismount. Isn't it time we stopped coming up with new gimmicks? That's Vivek's legacy. We need to focus on a few simple priorities and establish meaningful metrics for success. Critically, we need to identify and secure the real funding required to empower the envisioned changes. We need to bring together Federal IT operators, procurement, and management folks to map a path forward. And last, but certainly not least, we need to reward success and hold folks accountable for failure. If not, let's just establish "the beatings will continue until morale improves" as Fed IT's motto and go about our business...
Two lumps in this cup.
Now Hear This: Congressman Issa, VanRoekel, Powner, and Davis
Congressman Darrell Issa's chasing waste and duplication in Fed IT with a hearing January 22. One-two punch with FITARA. GAO points out Fed IT duplication. This on top of earlier GAO reports that note Uncle Sam has 600 different HR systems and 500 different financial systems. “Why so few?” I hear you ask. Further, GAO tells us Feds spend 69 percent of the $81 Billion IT budget on hospice care for geriatric systems. Even Obamacare would prescribe euthanasia. How are we supposed to transform for tomorrow if we can't "throw momma from the train"?
Awkward questions and incendiary comments on the docket at the first full Committee meeting - Oversight and Government Reform - on Tuesday, January 22 at 1 p.m. While the hearing title's direct but dull - Wasting Information Technology Dollars: How Can the Federal Government Reform Its IT Investment Strategy - the session will be anything but...
All-star speaker line up. Tom Davis opening. Then Steven VanRoekel and Dave Powner. Close with industry panel - Michael Klayko, Brocade; Chris Niehaus, Microsoft; Doug Bourgeois, VMware. And, in addition to waste and duplication, look out for questions on Data Center Consolidation and FedRAMP - what real progress to date?
I'll definitely be there early to grab a seat ringside.
AFCEA West - Burial at Sea?
Two new casualties in the great out-of-town Fed IT conference carnage. DoD travel restrictions really biting hard. Looks like AFCEA West is headed for Davy Jones' Locker. Navy CIO Office has cancelled its collocated IT Conference. Rumor has it, TMIMS - Triservice Medical Information Management Symposium, collocated with the HIMSS Conference in New Orleans, is also DOA. If that's true, there'll be a serious shortage of uniforms at HIMSS. A lot of frustrated sponsors. LandWarNet lifeless. AFITC axed. ELC eclipsed. Rationalizing expenses, good. No funding education, expensive.
Anchors aweigh or away?
Digital Markup II – Issa's IT Initiative
Congressman Darrell Issa – R-Calif. – plans to spark new efficiency in Fed IT. Targeting waste and redundancy – pegged at 25 percent of Fed IT's $81 Billion spend – Issa's Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act – FITARA – echoes many of the priorities in Senator Carper's – D-Del. – S.801, and works to map Fed IT back to Clinger-Cohen. Great chance to work across the aisle and between House and Senate.
A tech-savvy, proven entrepreneur, Issa knows the value of crowd sourcing – he wants your feedback on FITARA. Here's the Cup of IT review – but read the summary yourself, and give Congressman Issa a piece of your mind – if you can spare it. So what is Issa's IT initiative?
With great power comes great responsibility. In FITARA, the radioactive spider bites CIOs – increased authority and accountability. Read between the lines – that's one throat to choke if results don't improve. Issa's also calling to reinvigorate OMB's CIO Council – set rules for IT across the government. Crickets from the Council since Karen Evans abdicated the throne.
Issa's IT inspiration proposes a new dynamic duo. FITARA champions a Federal Commodity IT Center to spread acquisition best practices and manage government-wide IT contracts. Then it calls to deal in Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence – AACEs – to help agencies manage specialty and/or complex acquisitions. Normalize the everyday and specialist help for the complex – oh GSA, where art thou?
And, if that's not enough, FITARA directs OMB to choose both sets of centers on a competitive basis. Periodic reauthorization stops anybody getting complacent.
Twenty-five to Nine
Yes, it's time for change – but no, I'm not talking about the time just after 8:30 in England. Issa smartly cuts the 25-Point Plan down to nine – MeriTalk asked, how can there be 25 points, when there are only 10 Commandments? Considering Issa's nine priorities, first four focus on common-sense acquisition and management best practices. Five tops the four – proposing a "spend analysis" – what IT Uncle Sam's currently buying, and how to go about cutting cost. Great idea – easier said than done. The final four reinforce the right stuff. Fewer government websites, fewer data centers, more cloud, and open source everywhere.
Speak Your Piece or Hold Your Peace
Is FITARA fantastic or fanciful? Thoughts on how to get from ideas to actions? Here's Federal IT's chance to testify before the House and Senate without leaving your desk – or smartphone. Chime in now.
Fed IT's checking out of out-of-town conferences. Print magazines are no longer in vogue. So, what's in? Social media. Now, it's impossible to see what magazines CIOs read – and you can't access conference attendee lists. But, social media's transparent. So, MeriTalk took a peek over CIOs' shoulders to examine their social media manners. Here's the first annual Fed sCIOal Circle study. No it's not a typo. Watch the movie or read the book. The circle shows, who's in on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – and who's listening to whom...
Coleman and Holgate Have It
The study looked at 31 Federal CIOs – including two deputies. Based on the point scoring system, Casey Coleman and Rick Holgate own first place. Linda Cureton and Steven VanRoekel tie for the second spot.
Hardly surprisingly, DoD and Intelligence aren't digging social media. Al Tarasuik and LTG Susan Lawrence are both Web 1.0s – no social media accounts.
Facebook's mostly a closed book – only seven Fed CIOs like the platform. LinkedIn's the hot spot – more than 80 percent have a profile. Twitter's hit and miss – less than half sit on the branch, and, if you take out the top three chirpers, all CIOs have generated 396 tweets combined in the last six months. That’s 14 tweets per CIO – or 2.34 each per month.
Okay, CIOs aren't the most prolific song birds, but Twitter is the most transparent social platform – and provides us with a bird's eye view. So, who are the popular kids in the aviary? Though he's only generated 51 peeps in the last six months, Steven VanRoekel is at the front of the flock with 5,082 followers. However, he only follows 251 other tweeters – so it's difficult to get his attention. Other popular folks – Linda Cureton and Casey Coleman with 4,710 and 4,908 followers, respectively.
Now, consider the Twitter F2F ratio – number of followers divided by number of people you follow. It gives you a sense for whether the CIO is approachable online – the lower the ratio, the more approachable.
Back to the study, Casey has a much lower F2F ratio than Steven VanRoekel. Casey follows 2,959 tweeters – giving her a F2F ratio of 1.66. Steven follows 251 tweeters – F2F ratio, 20.25. Hats off to Shawn Kingsberry of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. Shawn is the most approachable CIO – F2F ratio, 0.37. In second place, Brook Colangelo, CIO at the White House, with a F2F ratio of 0.44.
Top of the Tree?
And, yes, I'm anticipating your next question. Who do the CIOs follow – who's the pied piper? We looked for trends and confluence. The simple answer is one another. Steven VanRoekel, Casey Coleman, and Richard Spires are all top accounts. Then it's Rick Holgate, Roger Baker, and Linda Cureton. If you're interested in more specifics, take a look in each CIO's Twitter nest for yourself.
Early Bird and the Worm
So, what's the takeaway? Social media's a bust in Federal IT? Absolutely not. Was GSA smart to sidestep Vivek's FedSpace– yep. As the traditional lines of communication curl up, online's absolutely the way ahead. Is social media a way to get to Uncle Sam's top IT decision makers – mostly no, though there are some exceptions. It'll be interesting to watch next year's sCIOal Circle to see what changes hatch...
PS. And speaking of social media and transparency - seems Alex Howard at O'Reilly suspects the fourth estate is a fifth column. Big ups for Camille Tuutti - yes it's a real study. A lot of great feedback from Fed CIOs based on the FCW article. AOL Government took it seriously too. WELP to you too Alex - yes, I had to look up what WELP meant.