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FCW : January 2016
Trending registrations for privately owned drones were submitted in the first two weeks after the FAA’s new system went online 181,000 With 2020 looming ever nearer, 2016 is chock full of important deadlines as Census Bureau officials weigh impor- tant build-or-buy IT decisions. In January, Census officials are due to decide whether Internet self- responders — a crucial part of the bureau’s plan to save $5 billion on the decennial census — will have a mobile application option. Officials must also consider wheth- er enumerators will be provided with mobile devices or allowed to bring their own. An initial decision is due in September 2016, but the mobile device plan won’t be finalized until October 2017. Multiple milestones are pegged to June 2016, when the bureau’s plan calls for the award of the Census Question- naire Assistance contract, which will cover handling respondents’ online problems. Officials will also analyze sourcing options and make decisions on cloud computing and IT infrastruc- ture needs. The Internet Partnership and Com- munications contract — which covers social media advertising, text and email outreach, and the placement of Inter- net-response kiosks in public places — is due to be awarded in August. And in September, the agency aims to finalize operational plans addressing security and privacy, Internet self-responses and IT infrastructure. Finally, by December 2016, the bureau should be awarding the Field IT Infrastructure contract. Getting it all done is a tall order, but even that schedule might not be aggres- sive enough. “The most important thing the bureau can do for 2016 is accelerat- ing those build-or-buy decisions,” said Carol Cha, director of IT acquisition management issues at the Government Accountability Office. She cited the Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing initia- tive as a particularly weak link. That 14-part endeavor seeks to centralize IT functions for all the bureau’s sur- veys, including the decennial census. Officials are due to decide on their approach in June 2016, and a solutions architecture decision in September will impact the 2020 count, but Cha said that’s not soon enough. “When you’re up against an immu- table deadline, you have a very slim margin of error,” she said, adding that foundational build-or-buy decisions must be made as soon as possible so the entire 2020 IT package can be in place for testing. — Zach Noble Critical Census IT decisions loom in 2016 ASHKANSOLTANI.ORG/LORRIE.CRANOR.ORG/AF.MIL 10 January 2016 FCW.COM A new bill, still in the planning stag- es, seeks to make it easier for agen- cies to move to the cloud in terms of both financing and obtaining author- ity to operate for commercial cloud systems. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) are teaming up to sponsor the Cloud Infrastructure Tran- sition Act of 2015. The bill would give new authority to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to speed accreditation of commercial providers, establish a framework for funding IT modern- ization and impose strict reporting requirements on agencies designed to expose their reliance on obsolete technology. Former House staffer Rich Beu- tel, who helped draft the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, is advising current Senate staffers on the bill. He said lawmakers and staffers wanted to build on the success of FITARA with some ideas that didn’t make it into the final bill. Eventually, a common theme emerged around cloud and modernization. Beutel said the new bill’s backers hope it will “help agencies find the resources necessary to get off the old junk and move to new systems, which have cybersecurity built in by design.” The funding piece is designed to solve a key impediment to IT modern- ization: the appropriations cycle. An agency that bets on a modernization plan could find itself with no money to keep its existing systems in busi- ness during the key transition period. Under the plan, the Office of Manage- ment and Budget would administer a fund that allows agencies to pursue multiyear modernization plans. Con- gressional appropriators don’t particu- larly like flexible funding mechanisms that operate outside their control, but one potential sweetener is the idea that agencies would replenish the fund with any savings realized by the move to the cloud. The bill’s FedRAMP revamp is designed to legislate operational fixes to the program office. Right now, agen- cies can award a provisional authority to operate to cloud service providers, but those approvals don’t mean much until the FedRAMP program office gives a provider a seal of approval to operate governmentwide. The bill proposes having FedRAMP, rather than agencies, grant provision- al authorizations on a fee-for-service basis. Fast lanes for CSPs that have their applications in precise order are also being contemplated. — Aisha Chowdhry and Adam Mazmanian Coming in 2016: Cloud legislation 0116fcw_003-011.indd 10 1/6/16 2:39 PM
November and December 2015