On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:
2013 may very well go down as the year of big data. At every government conference, training, networking summit, someone was talking about how big data was transforming the way their organization operates. But one program rose above the rest. We go in depth with the Army’s EMDS program with Lt. Col. Bobby Saxon.
But up front:
The Wall Street Journal: Seeking to deal with heavy traffic at HealthCare.gov: HealthCare.gov rolled out a new feature that emails interested users when website traffic subsides enough to provide a better experience for them. The queuing tool will allow consumers to request email notifications when it’s a better time to come back to the site, a practice consistent with large e-commerce websites, particularly those that sell products, such as concert tickets, that need to be purchased within a narrow time window. While picking an insurance plan is hardly as fun as, say, scoring show tickets, HealthCare.gov is starting to support more traffic. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesperson Julie Bataille said HealthCare.gov received about 375,000 visitors between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. ET Monday, or about double the traffic it typically handles during those hours on a Monday.
The Wall Street Journal: Inside HealthCare.gov’s war room. Rackspace Holding Inc. CTO John Engates was among of a small number of IT experts invited by U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel to visit the control hub for HealthCare.gov. According to Mr. Engates, the federal government is focused on issues large and small — from adding server capacity to handle traffic bottlenecks, to making the government’s IT procurement process more efficient. Mr. VanRoekel wants to make the process ”closer to the velocity of the private sector in terms of how they use and procure IT,” Mr. Engates told The Wall Street Journal.
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The FAA has released a five-year roadmap for allowing drones to fly throughout the country, but is still in the process of fully developing the necessary rules and regulations to enable drones and commercial airliners to share the same airspace. The agency’s roadmap will make it so that within the next five years, the US will be capable of supporting 7,500 drones in the skies. The Federal Times notes that the next step for the FAA is to select six locations to experiment with drones flying in general airspace.
Postal unions are advocating for an end to after dark deliveries following the recent shooting of a postal worker conducting evening deliveries in Maryland. Union officials blame plant closures, the consolidation of mail processing centers, and a lack of adequate staffing at postal offices for the tragedy, given that each of these factors has contributed to later and later deliveries by postal workers. The Government Executive reports that in light of the shooting, the Inspector General for the Postal Service is initiating an audit that evaluates the delivery of mail after 5 pm.
The Office of Special Counsel, which is responsible for investigating federal-agency whistleblower claims and for protecting whistleblowers, has seen a significant rise in its caseload this year following the passage of the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. The new legislation increased legal protections for whistleblowers and as a result, the OSC this year received its highest number of quarterly claims from employees alleging some form of wrongdoing or retaliation in their offices. The higher caseload has emphasized OSC’s need, however, for a larger budget and staff, reports Federal News Radio. Congress has approved a $1.7 million increase in OSC’s budget, but this funding is frozen until Congress members can agree on a budget deal.
The DHS Inspector General has issued a report, stating that although the agency has improved its cybersecurity and IT practices, it still needs to address how it is monitoring its information systems and determine whether or not these systems are up-to-date. During the evaluation, the Inspector General found that DHS information systems were out-of-date and that their operational licenses had expired. Furthermore, as the Federal Times notes, the agency has failed to establish a means for monitoring and tracking data on its information systems, including data stored in the cloud.
Military personnel are having to disconnect and stop using their droid and apple devices as the Pentagon transitions to a new mobile security management system. The new system, however, will not be up and running until March 2014, states NextGov. Until then, military members have the option of either doing without their devices or reverting back to older, secured Blackberry smartphones.
Almost every fund in the Thrift Savings Plan increased for the month of November, representing the third consecutive month of positive growth. Fixed income bonds were the only fund to see a decline last month, while the C Fund grew more than any other group. The Government Executive reports that in addition to the above news, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which is responsible for managing the TSP, has decided to start automatically enrolling new employees in lifecycle funds instead of the G Fund. This decision will have to be approved by Congress, though, before it goes into effect.
GSA has released a request for proposals for the procurement of office supplies under a blanket purchase agreement. The agency’s solicitation efforts are focused on attracting small businesses, including consortiums. Federal News Radio states that GSA intends to offer more than 20 awards under a five-year contract that could be worth $1.25 billion by the end of the five-year period.
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