Technocrat | December 17, 2018: Score Big or Go Home

What’s New This Week:

Score Big or Go Home

“Mr. Monopoly” made an appearance on Capitol Hill last week to remind all of us that tech giants profit from personal data and there’s not much we can do about it. A mustachioed activist dressed as Monopoly’s famous mascot attended a hearing where Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before Congress on the company’s privacy practices, market power, and efforts to potentially build a censored search engine for China.

During the three-hour grilling by the House Judiciary Committee, Pichai managed to point out how uninformed most politicians are about technology. He had to (gently) break the news to Iowa representative Steve King that Google doesn’t manufacture iPhones and told Texas representative Ted Poe that the company isn’t capable of tracking his movements “by default.”

Thankfully, government employees are much more knowledgeable when it comes to tech. In fact, many agencies are ending 2018 on a high note, having made significant improvements in their modernization efforts. According to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s recently released IT scorecard, also known as the FITARA (Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act) scorecard, all 24 agencies managed to get a passing grade. More than half had improved their scores, and none saw their scores fall.

The agencies were graded on different governmentwide priorities, such as adopting incremental development techniques, consolidating data centers, reducing duplicative IT investments, licensing software, and establishing funds for IT, among other things. BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains more in this week’s exclusive story.

Although members of Congress with oversight authority applauded overall progress on the FITARA scorecard, they said some agencies aren’t moving fast enough on certain aspects of IT modernization. The lawmakers expressed frustration over internal obstacles hindering agency CIOs from using the money that’s available for these efforts.

It’s always about the money! Speaking of which … a partial government shutdown is still possible if lawmakers don’t agree on funding for President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. We’ll see how it all plays out next week.

In the meantime, here’s some more news you can use.

Get Smart

 “The intent of the FITARA scorecards … is not to paint agencies with a scarlet letter, but instead to incentivize behaviors and actions that result in better managed and more secure IT resources.”

 —Will Hurd, chairman of the IT subcommittee on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

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

Big Contracts

 GAO Rejects IBM’s JEDI Protest

In the latest installment of the JEDI saga, the Government Accountability Office has rejected another challenge to the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract. GAO dismissed the pre-award protest, saying the “matter involved” is currently pending in court. Read more.

CBP’s $297M HR Systems Fiasco

Customs and Border Protection is under fire for technical problems surrounding its massive human resources systems contract with Accenture. According to Homeland Security’s inspector general, the new system processed only two hires in the first year. Read more.

Eye on Security

New Guidance Says to Protect Most Valuable Data

In a recent memorandum issued by the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies are encouraged to adopt new guidance on safeguarding their high-value assets. The memo offers steps for reporting and measuring the value of those assets against cyber threats. Read more.

House Report: Equifax Breach Was Preventable

Equifax could have avoided last year’s large-scale data breach if it had basic security measures in place, like patching vulnerable systems, according to a House Oversight Committee report. The report confirmed previously known issues and added new insights. Read more.

Beyond Legacy

IRS Struggles with Linux Migration

The Internal Revenue Service is in the process of migrating 141 legacy applications to an open-source Linux operating system, but progress has been slow due to poor IT governance. A recent audit found only eight of those apps have transitioned to Linux. Read more.

GSA Launching E-Commerce Pilot

By the end of next year, the General Services Administration wants to have a proof-of-concept e-commerce platform in place. It’s part of the agency’s effort to consolidate 24 buying schedules into one and create a commercial online portal similar to Amazon. Read more.

Next Tech

Why Pentagon Needs ‘Startup Mentality’

The Defense Department could use some improvements to its current acquisition process. Adopting a startup mindset would help the agency move toward using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, CIO Dana Deasy recently told lawmakers. Read more.

Defense Agencies Cautious About AI

While military services have taken various steps toward adopting AI, Army Research Laboratory chief scientist Alexander Kott said agencies should set realistic expectations for the developing technology and focus on what it can do for specific tasks. Read more.

Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Bloomberg Government’s Technocrat!