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FCW : January and February 2017
Trending of major IT project investments are over budget or behind schedule, according to the IT Dashboard 43% On the last morning of his presiden- cy, Barack Obama signed a law that enshrines the Presidential Innova- tion Fellows program, strengthening his legacy of supporting innovation in government technology. The PIF program, founded in 2012 and managed by the General Servic- es Administration, is one of Obama’s hallmark technology initiatives and, in many ways, is the progenitor of both 18F and the U.S. Digital Service. Its purpose is to attract technology entrepreneurs from the private sector for year-long stints in government to tackle IT challenges. Since its launch, the program has brought in more than 110 fellows who have partnered with 33 agencies on technology projects such as the Can- cer Moonshot initiative and Code.gov. The Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent Act of 2017, the bill that makes the PIF program permanent, was backed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCar- thy (R-Calif.). But despite bipartisan support, the program’s future was uncertain, mainly due to concerns about its price tag. Some in industry also argued that they could provide the same services if federal IT acquisition regulations were eased. Obama issued an executive order making the program permanent in August 2015, but the TALENT Act’s enshrinement into law removes the prospect of the Trump administra- tion rescinding the order via execu- tive action. The PIF program’s next group of fellows is slated to begin work this spring. — Chase Gunter Obama makes PIF program permanent Not to be outdone by the Army, which launched its own branch of the Defense Digital Service last December, the Air Force is creating an Air Force Digital Service. When Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the initiative at an event in Washington, she jokingly referred to the new service as “a nerd cyber SWAT team.” “I saw what [DDS] could do firsthand with the GPS Next-Generation Opera- tional Control System,” she said. “OCX ran into some problems in part because we had collectively underestimated the level of software complexity and the cybersecurity that the project would require, so we brought in these experts.” She said the DDS team helped Air Force officials understand advanced new software tools and provided advice that helped put the program back on track. The Air Force Digital Service will “help us build software excellence into new programs and troubleshoot exist- ing programs that run into difficulties with software,” James added. “Software is frequently at the root of many of our difficulties.” Furthermore, “we’re going to now be putting this approach to work to ensure that future programs are designed with an eye to the necessary cyber require- ments and building the expertise we need to use the latest private-sector techniques,” she said. According to DDS, the Air Force will staff a team of roughly 10 people in the coming months, and the OCX program will be the initial focus. DDS ran the Hack the Pentagon bug bounty program last year and is running the Hack the Army program, which in part led to the creation of the Army Digital Service. DDS is itself an offshoot of the U.S. Digital Service, which was created in 2014 with a mission of recruiting top pri- vate-sector professionals to serve short stints in government to help agencies solve technical challenges. James said the Air Force also intends to grow its cyber workforce by 3,000 in the Air National Guard by 2019, and the new personnel would bring private- sector experience to units in 34 states. However, she added that advancing those initiatives requires the Trump administration and Congress to work together to end sequestration and pro- vide stable funding. “Stop talking about it — take a page out of Nike and just do it,” James said. — Sean D. Carberry Air Force launches Digital Service franchise January/February 2017 FCW.COM 9 Join the conversation FCW uses Twitter to break news, field questions and ask our own. Learn more at Twitter.com/FCWnow. 2:00 PM - 19 Jan 2017 VMware for Gov’t @vmwaregov Reply Retweet Favorite Former @IRSnews and @DHSgov CIO offers some #fedIT advice for the incoming Trump administration via @FCWnow: http://bit.ly/2jdGGxR 0217fcw_003-011.indd 9 1/25/17 9:30 AM
November and December 2016