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FCW : April 15, 2016
IN THE IT PIPELINE WHAT: A Proposers Day to dis- cuss objectives for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Next Generation Social Science (NGS2) program. WHY: DARPA wants to develop new methods and tools to tap the huge pool of participants in massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) and massive online open course (MOOC) platforms to study human social behaviors at a previously unreachable scale. The program will draw from a wide array of disciplines, including sociology, econom- ics, political science, anthropol- ogy and psychology — as well as information and computer sciences, physics, biology and math. The agency said social sci- ence research has traditionally been limited to experiments that involve a few dozen partici- pants or require extrapolating datasets from smaller studies into larger ones. But the reach and depth of MMOG and MOOC platforms have changed that dynamic. NGS2 will initially fund researchers for three core social science capabilities: predictive modeling and hypothesis gen- eration, innovative experimental methods and platforms, and interpretation and reproducibil- ity of research results. A broad agency announce- ment was issued on March 18, and the Proposers Day was held on March 22. FULL ANNOUNCEMENT: is.gd/FCW_NGS2 Trending small companies will be added to NITAAC’s $20 billion CIO-SP3 contract 20-35 Technology watchdogs in the House quizzed Department of Veterans Affairs CIO LaVerne Council about moderniza- tion efforts and information security during a March 16 hearing against the backdrop of yet another disappointing report from the VA’s Office of Inspec- tor General. “The modernization of the VA’s leg- acy technology is a real concern that is affecting millions of veterans,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chair- man of the House Over- sight and Government Reform Committee’s IT Subcommittee. “Systems are unsecure, inefficient and inoperable.” According to Brent Arronte, VA’s deputy assistant IG for audits and evaluations, 57 of the 69 informa- tion security recommendations the OIG has made to VA officials remain unresolved. Furthermore, 17 of them are what he called “repeat recommen- dations,” and 13 are “modified repeat recommendations.” The VA has a history of failing the annual audits required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act, but Council told lawmakers that things are looking up. She joined the VA in July 2015 and was on the job for less than two months of the period covered by the latest FISMA report, but she said she hoped to close all open information security recommendations by the end of 2017. “We have made significant progress in improving our cybersecurity pos- ture,” Council told lawmakers. Some outstanding recommendations include fully implementing two-factor authentication for local and remote access to VA systems, improving security patching to reach all devices, encrypting sensitive data as it moves across VA networks, and tightening access controls. In the OIG report, Arronte wrote, “We remain concerned that continu- ing delays in implementing effective corrective actions to address these open recommendations can potentially contribute to reporting an information technology material weakness for this year’s audit of VA’s con- solidated financial state- ments.” In previous hearings this year, Council said it was time to take a step back from the VA’s planned modernization of its homegrown VistA electronic health record system. That plan, con- ceived in 2014, has been overtaken by new developments in the VA’s health care delivery strategy, including an increased focus on mobile technology, security, women’s health and connections with private-sector providers. But some lawmakers remain skep- tical. “While I certainly appreciate big thinking, especially in government IT, I have to ask whether or not this is another example of the VA taking a U-turn on a substantial IT investment,” Hurd told Council. “We have been down this road before with the effort to make the electronic health records of the [Defense Department] and the VA interoperable. Is VistA going to end up in a multiyear investment that never delivers the functionality that the VA’s health care providers need?” Council remained optimistic through- out the hearing but also told lawmak- ers that VA officials “must do more” and must continually innovate when it comes to digital tools for health care. — Aisha Chowdhry House panel presses VA CIO about info security LaVerne Council FLICKR.COM/VETERANSAFFAIRS 10 April 15, 2016 FCW.COM TWITTER.COM/OPM.GOV/GSA.GOV 0415fcw_003-013.indd 10 3/23/16 9:13 AM
March 30, 2016
April 30, 2016