Staying (Cyber) Secure on a Budget

Hey there I’m Christopher Dorobek, the DorobekINSIDER and welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek for the final week of October 2011. Happy Halloween. We are just about one year from election day 2012. A lot of fun to look forward to in the year ahead, right?

As always, our goal each week is to look at an issue, a person, an idea that helped define the past 7-days, but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.


The end of October also marks the end of cyber-security awareness month… and this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Washington Post that she spends a considerable amount of time dealing with cybersecurity threats, including potential attacks on the nation’s infrastructure.

This week, the Security Innovation Network was holding a conference in Washington assessing ways to help solve the challenges facing government and there are many of them, and they have been evolving quickly. Robert Rodriguez is the chairman and Managing Principal of the Security Innovation Network. He tells me that things are changing in the age of austerity.

Robert says that traditional models of cyber-security are dead. With shrinking budgets government has to start looking at smaller more agile firms and collaborations in order to become more cost effective and move as fast as the industry itself.

Robert says the biggest challenge the government has in cyber-security is knowing what we are protecting. Right now people are so worried about protection that they don’t even know and understand what they are trying to protect and why.

And that brings us to the GovLoop Insights Question of the Week: How should the government prioritize cyber-security in this age of austerity. We don’t have to tell you that money is tight. So where does cyber-security get prioritize?


We start with the technology story of the week.

The first speech by the new federal CIO, Steve VanRoekel. Unfortunately he didn’t speak to an audience of government executives the 21st annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council, was going on this week. VanRoekel decided to speak to an audience in California specifically, Palo Alto’s storied PARC headquarters.

That aside, it was the federal CIO’s first speech since he took that post nearly three months ago. And he stressed that his focus will be to drive innovation in government and make investments in technology that better serve the American people, VanRoekel said.

VanRoekel detailed specific initiatives inside each of the administration’s focus areas: maximizing IT return on investment, improving citizen and business interaction with agencies, closing the so-called productivity gap and cybersecurity.

Staying in technology, what are the challenges facing state technology executives? The National Association of State CIOs has just published its annual list of the strategies, management processes and solutions [PDF]. Topping the list, it will be no surprise to you: consolidation and I would add, doing more with less. Number two is budget and cost controls. Security comes in at number six and mobile comes in at number 10.

The top tech priority for state CIOs, according to NASCIO: virtualization.

Our management story of the week involves technology. It’s the ongoing troubles with the government’s job site: We’ve told you over the weeks that the Office of Personnel Management rolled out a brand new version of USAJobs, but the new site has been plagued with problems. The Washington Post reports that the site would crash repeatedly, error messages popped up over and over, résumés disappeared, passwords were obliterated. In some cases, it even got geography wrong. Searches for Delaware, for example, turning up jobs in Germany. And Federal Computer Week notes those problems were having an impact. An analysis indicates that the number of resumes coming in through the new site is at least 60 percent less than the earlier version. And now lawmakers are asking the federal CIO to step in to help.

In gov 2.0 news The Department of Veterans Affairs named RelayHealth as the winner of its “Blue Button for All Americans” contest. The Blue Button allows veterans across the country to download their health data. Even better: McKesson’s RelayHealth announced that it is donating the $50,000 prize to the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports programs that assist injured Servicemembers, Veterans and their families.

Our budget story of the week is, of course, the super-committee, which is facing a deadline just before Thanksgiving to make its recommendations on cuts. And there is a lot of back-and-fourth fighting going on. At the Executive Leadership Conference this week, a congressional staffer suggested that agencies should expect significant budget cuts. We’ll continue to watch it, of course.

And four recommendations for some reading this weekend.

One from the Harvard Business Review about government start-ups. Government “start-ups” new agencies, offices, or initiatives have the potential to be a powerful tool for solving critical policy problems at the local, state, and federal levels. But while creating the “new and the nimble” within an established bureaucracy is a well-known art form in the private sector, governments are still struggling to do it effectively.




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