Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Jan. 4, 2019. Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Technocrat | January 7, 2019: Top Technology Headlines to Kick Off 2019

January 4, 2019 Bloomberg Government

What’s New This Week:

In the Year 2019…

Remember when the movies promised us we’d be accustomed to advanced technology like flying cars by 2019? Well, for those of you still allowed to check your government email, does 2019 feel all that advanced? The year has gotten off to a shaky start for the federal government, which continues to deal with a partial shutdown and its side effects. A federal employees union filed a lawsuit last week against the Trump administration, claiming more than 400,000 staff members have been forced to work without pay.

The shutdown also has serious implications for shared services providers that are waiting to be funded. They are still operating common systems—such as payroll and property management— using fees from agencies, according to one report. The bad news for unfunded agencies: they won’t be able to access those services once that money runs out.

But agencies must carry on…

In late December, the Defense Department issued a request for information, seeking vendors skilled in Agile methods and tools to continuously deliver new software. The DOD expressed a need for partners that can take over management of its latest IT system, which is designed to streamline background investigations and reduce the current backlog of security clearance applications. BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains more in this week’s exclusive story.

The new Pentagon system will take over the clearance process from the Office of Personnel Management’s National Background Investigations Bureau, which has stated that it’s working “daily and almost hourly” with the DOD and the Defense Security Service to prepare for the transfer of the government’s security clearance portfolio. Director of defense intelligence Garry Reid cited a need for merger and integration experts to help with the transfer, which is expected to take a year.

January is a month of resolutions, as well as reflections on the past year and the year ahead. While it’s tough to predict exactly what 2019 will hold for federal tech, industry leaders have a few good hunches. Nextgov put together a long list of specific initiatives taking shape this year. You can check it out here. Elderly members of Congress could use a similar list to get up to date on current technologies, given all the difficulties they’ve had understanding life in the digital age.

One more thing … here are some headlines you may have missed over the holidays. Okay, keep reading for other important news in federal IT below.

Get Smart

“Our progress to date would not have been possible without the robust continuous evaluation and automated records capabilities built over the past three years.”

—Garry Reid, director of defense intelligence at the Department of Defense

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

Eye on Security

Biggest Questions for Cybersecurity

The White House plans to be more aggressive in cyberspace this year as President Donald Trump announced plans to launch more offensive hacking operations against foreign adversaries. Here are four important questions for the cybersecurity community in 2019. Read more.

Inside New Health Care Cyber Practices

The Department of Health and Human Services released voluntary cybersecurity guidance for the health care industry to help organizations mitigate cyber threats such as phishing and ransomware. The report involved roughly 150 cybersecurity and health care experts. Read more.

Strategy & Leadership

DOD CIO Gets Extra Responsibilities

The Defense Department’s CIO will have several additional authorities thanks to new legal provisions that Congress established for 2019. While future DOD CIOs will have to be appointed and confirmed, the law allows incumbent CIO Dana Deasy to continue to serve without a confirmation process. Read more.

Guide to Navigating Tech in Congress

The legislative branch has unique and fragmented rules that can keep even the most experienced tech vendors out of the loop. Bipartisan advocacy group Future Congress just launched a guide for vendors and civic hackers that want to build tech for the legislative branch. Read more.

Next Tech

More Agencies Embracing Automation

Federal agencies are warming up to the idea of robotic process automation, or RPA. The General Services Administration has been automating some of its processes with six active bots. But this year the agency plans to implement RPA on “higher value” applications. Read more.

USDOT Invests in Driverless Car Programs

The Department of Transportation wants to ensure the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into U.S. streets and transportation systems. So, the agency is contributing up to $60 million in grant funding to public entities interested in leading AV research and development. Read more.

Regulation Nation

Government Tech Bills That Never Made It

As the 115th Congress ended, hundreds of unpassed bills were put to rest. Here’s a list of federal tech and cyber-related proposals that never got past lawmakers. Among them is the Artificial Intelligence in Government Act, which focused on hiring AI experts to help the feds adopt AI. Read more.

Why NSF Needs Tighter Mobile Controls

The National Science Foundation should have stricter policies for enforcing rules related to the use of agency-owned mobile phones and tablets, according to a report by its inspector general. The report found that some were incorrectly identified as personal devices. Read more.