In The Post-Snowden World, Security Is Ever Changing – Plus The 7 Gov Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Most people acknowledge the federal government’s civil service system is pretty much broken. It has been called woefully inadequate for the challenges of the 21st century, and frankly one of the biggest impediments to creating the best government possible, that’s the assessment coming from a new report from the partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton. We talk with Ron Sanders about his suggestions for the future.

You can find all of our programs online: DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

But up front: In the post-Snowden world, security is ever changing

The great thing about technology is that it is always changing, but the most challenging thing about technology is that it is always changing.

Last week, I moderated two panels looking at the challenge of securing data in a world where data seems to want to be free. Headlined Keeping Secrets: How Technology Can Help Defeat the 21st Century Spy, the sessions focused on ‘mobility and information sprawl’ and at ‘secure information sharing.’

A few take aways:

The world has changed - and is changing: It is still remarkable to me how much the world has changed… and still is changing. The fact that we are even talking about BYOD -- bring your own device -- in government agencies is still remarkable to me. It is a real demonstration that the world has fundamentally changed from technology within large organizations once let to where the consumer business now leads. That has had a significant impact on the federal government, one of the world’s largest organizations, which used to be able to all but dictate standards and technologies. Today, pleasing consumers is job one for most technology companies.

Technology will find a way: One of the concerns I had coming away from the discussion what seemed to me to be an underappreciation of technology and the fact that technology generally finds a way. And one of the throw away phrases that security people often use is, ‘People don’t need a mobile device or apps just so they can play Angry Birds.’ I would argue that kind of thinking ignores the new world where people are looking for better ways of doing their jobs -- better ways of working -- and organizations ignore how people use technology at their peril. There is a reason that these devices are proliferating: Because they help people accomplish their mission -- to live the best life possible… at work… at home… with their family and friends. So yes, users may be downloading Angry Birds -- or perhaps even more seedy apps -- but they are also looking for ways to be more efficient and more productive. They are looking for ways to accomplish their mission. (Dan Barahona of WatchDox, which essentially is an enterprise version of DropBox, said most organizations have sometimes hundreds of DropBox downloads -- that they generally don’t know about.)

All of that being said, these are the best of times -- and the worst of times -- to be working on secure information sharing. There is so much going on -- in both security and with information sharing.


The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Washington Post: Obama planning to use executive orders to continue reforms for contracting workforce - “Lacking congressional support to raise wages or end gender pay disparities, President Obama is again imposing his policies on federal contractors, in keeping with presidents’ tradition of exerting their powers on a part of the economy they directly control. Obama is to sign an executive order Tuesday barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other. The order is similar to language in a Senate bill aimed at closing a pay gap between men and women. That measure is set for a vote this week but is unlikely to pass. The president also will direct the Labor Department to adopt rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race.”

  2. GovExec: Federal Agencies Shed 10,000 Jobs in March - “About 1,200 of the job losses last month were at the U.S. Postal Service, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the rest of the federal government lost about 9,000. Uncle Sam has cut 85,000 jobs in the past 12 months.”

  3. NextGov: DHS Prepares Overhaul of Internal Security Operations - “A counter-hack mechanism called the intrusion defense chain, or "kill chain” -- developed by researchers at Lockheed Martin -- is expected to drive the revamp, according to DHS officials.”

  4. New York Times: Senate Set to Pass Bill Extending Jobless Aid - “Six Senate Republicans joined all 55 Democrats last week to end debate on legislation that retroactively restores benefits cut off Dec. 28 and extends them through June 1, clearing the way for passage Monday.”

  5. Federal News Radio: House Lawmakers Lose Patience with VA, Introduce Prescriptive Cyber Bill - “The House Veterans Affairs Committee no longer is waiting for the Veterans Affairs Department to fix what lawmakers and outside auditors believe are systemic cybersecurity problems. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) introduced the Veterans Information Security Improvement Act (H.R. 4370) yesterday that would explicitly require VA to take steps to repair operational and procedure holes in its network and computer security processes.”

  6. The Wall Street Journal: New York State Searches for New CIO: New York state is looking for a new chief information officer. The job is to lead the Office of Information and Technology Services (ITS), a relatively new agency with 3,800 employees and a budget of $915 million. The new CIO will replace Brian Digman, who took office in January 2013, two months after the formation of ITS. Mr. Digman has spent much of his tenure consolidating information technology within the state. “We expect him to remain part of the administration,” an administration official told CIO Journal, although he didn’t say what Mr. Digman’s new job will be. Mr. Digman is “well-regarded” and did “great work” launching ITS, the official added. The state is looking for a visionary leader who can use technology to improve government operations and provide excellent customer service, according to a job posting on LinkedIn. The candidate will need to develop or implement enterprise productivity tools, identity management, cloud hosting and infrastructure, IT security, Voice of Internet Protocol service, and open source software.

  7. FCW: IT Dashboard Now Rates Healthcare.gov as ‘Moderately High Risk’ - “Six months after the buggy launch of HealthCare.gov, the project has been rated "moderately high risk" by the CIO of the Department of Health and Human Services on the federal IT Dashboard.”

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder... yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too...

  • Last week, I mentioned the government challenges of the revolving door. That was highlighted over the weekend: The New York Times: Minding the Minders of G.M. There is a truism in Washington that was confirmed last week in Congress: Even less popular than government regulation is a regulator suspected of not doing its job.

  • Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say [The Washington Post]: Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won’t commit to. “I give it a few seconds — not even minutes — and then I’m moving again,” says Handscombe, a 35-year-old graduate student in creative writing at American University. But it’s not just online anymore. She finds herself behaving the same way with a novel. “It’s like your eyes are passing over the words but you’re not taking in what they say,” she confessed. “When I realize what’s happening, I have to go back and read again and again.” To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.

  • The Surprising Benefits of Nonconformity [MIT-Sloan Management Review] : New research finds that under certain circumstances, people wearing unconventional attire are perceived as having higher status and greater competence.

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