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Technocrat | August 13, 2018

What’s New This Week:

The Latest JEDI: The Competition Awakens

This story making headlines has a Star Wars moniker, but it’s the federal government’s own little saga. The Department of Defense is mired in a conflict over JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), a $10 billion single-award commercial cloud contract. Last week we told you that Amazon Web Services is probably rejoicing as the Pentagon reaffirms its commitment to the expansive cloud system.

Now, Oracle is raining on Amazon’s parade. Without healthy competition, DOD risks being locked into a “legacy cloud for a decade or more,” Oracle said in a pre-award bid protest. The tech giant likely won’t be the only one taking exception to the JEDI plan.

Speaking of technology splurges, agencies plan to spend more than $96 billion on IT by the end of the year. But, in what’s probably not a shock to you, money alone doesn’t solve tech headaches in government. Agencies lag when it comes to empowering tech leaders like you and your CIO, according to a 195-page examination just released by the Government Accountability Office. Surprising? Hardly. But what to do about it …

It’s not all bad news! Plenty of agencies are on the cutting edge of technology, even if they’re not moving as fast as the private sector. Take the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s modernizing the way it delivers services to 9 million veterans nationwide. The VA has big plans that involve moving its mobile apps to the cloud and a new website. It’s about time!

Are you hungry for more? Your weekly dose of key issues affecting federal technology leaders awaits.

Meet the Top 200 Federal Contractors

Bloomberg Government presents the seventh annual BGOV200—a ranking of the top 200 federal contractors based on prime contracts awarded in fiscal 2017. The report finds 92 companies improved their ranking from FY16 to FY17, while the same number, 92 companies, fell in the rankings. Sixteen companies, including those ranked No. 1 through No. 6, held the same positions as last year, while 26 companies entered the BGOV200 list this year. Explore how—and with what companies—the U.S. government spent more than $512 billion last fiscal year. Download the BGOV200 report for detailed analysis of the top federal contractors.

 

Get Smart

“At the VA, our digital modernization efforts have been focused on delivering faster access to care and services to veterans, improving the quality of the experience veterans have, and being able to scale within the organization.”

—Clare Martorana, digital service expert at the U.S. Digital Service

Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.

Big Spenders

Show Me the Money

Federal agencies are looking to shell out as much as 40 percent of their budgets in the last two months of fiscal 2018. That’s $140 billion more than expected when Congress signed the omnibus spending bill back in March. Agencies are in a mad rush to spend what they can on contracts before Sept. 30. Read more.

 Time to Make Good

If DOD follows through on nearly three dozen outstanding reforms proposed by its inspector general, it could save the Pentagon tons of money—$2.3 billion, to be exact. Some 1,500 open recommendations, if addressed, could grab uncollected funds, tighten operations, and ramp up security. Read more.

 

Strategy & Leadership

GAO’s Dave Powner Bids Farewell

The Government Accountability Office’s IT director is walking away from the agency after 16 years and heading to a non-government job at Mitre. Powner’s leaving unfinished business behind, but also has words of wisdom to share about the state of federal IT. Read more.

GSA to the Rescue

Phase III of the Small Business Innovation Research program is like the “valley of death,” say companies that have been through the process. The General Services Administration wants to change that with a new pilot that connects companies with federal agency buyers. Read more.

 

Cyber (In)security

Permanent Cyberwar: Reality or Fiction?

The Defense Science Board is urging the government to wage continuous cyberwar to maintain its current global position. This controversial idea is the focus of the Pentagon advisory panel’s recent report, which also calls for closer ties between the military and the private sector. Read more.

 FCC Wasn’t Hacked After All

The FCC is pointing fingers after it became public that an alleged hack of its comment system last year never happened. A report from its inspector general found a lack of evidence, so the agency blamed the former CIO and the Obama administration for the error. Hmmm, okay. Read more.

 

Next Tech

CDC Is on the Blockchain Train

Blockchain technology just found another use in government: tracking electronic health record data. Still in prototype mode, the EHR blockchain could make data sharing easier between health care providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a win-win for all. Read more.

Army Finally Gets an Update

The Army is taking note of innovation in the private sector. It’s moving to a hybrid cloud environment, which is the first update to its enterprise cloud strategy since 2015. Goodbye mundane IT operations, hello automation. Read more.

 

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