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DorobekINSIDER: ELC 2011: UNsessioning about YOUR role in government innovation

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Innovation — we all know it’s important, particularly in these rapidly changing times. We also know that it is hard. At the 2011 Executive Leadership Conference, hosted by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council, we are going to try to help. And even if you are not at ELC 2011, there is still a way for you to participate — even if you aren’t here in Williamsburg.

ACT-IACToday, as part of ELC’s technology innovation track – the last panel of the day – and we are trying an ELC innovation about innovation. We are holding an UN-session. For the past several years, there have been un-conferences. Un-conferences — and, by extension, our un-session — is very open. There is a topic, but there are no set list of speakers. It is wisdom of the crowds in the conference format — it enables open, collaborative learning using a format that “creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.”

I’m thrilled to be working with Kathy Conrad, the principal deputy associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

The UN-session is the final panel of the ELC’s technology innovation track. And our goal is to walk out of the UNsession with… homework, for lack of a better term. We want to come up with tools that people can take — and try — in their organization that encourage and enable innovation. And we are then continuing the sharing after ELC ends — I’ve created a section on GovLoop, the social network for government, where I hope people will share their lessons… what worked, what didn’t. (Hear Conrad talk about some of her thoughts on the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week podcast from this past week.)

One of my new favorite books is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries — and I think it is a book about innovation. It’s about making it a part of your live and your thinking. (A preview: The DorobekINSIDER book club will be coming back next year — and, if we can work out schedules, this will be our book. More to come. Stay tuned.)

Read our thoughts — and our notes for the un-session — after the break.

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Written by cdorobek

October 24, 2011 at 11:31 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Kundra names Schlosser as deputy federal CIO

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Lisa Schlosser has been appointed the next deputy administrator in the Office of E-Government and Information Technology in the Office of Management and Budget. She will start in that post on July 5, sources tell the DorobekINSIDER.In that role, she effectively serves as the deputy federal CIO.

Schlosser has been at the Environmental Protection Agency since 2008, initial overseeing the Office of Information Collection and most recently as the principal deputy associate administrator for EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. Before that, she was the CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (NOTE: This information has been updated at of 06.02.2011.)

She will replace Mike Howell, who left the OMB post late last year to become deputy program manager for the Information Sharing Environment.

Schlosser is widely respected within the CIO community and she has an impressive resume having experience across a wide variety of issues, including cyber-security. She also served as a military intelligence officer for the Army. Her efforts have also been recognized with Federal Computer Week’s 2008 Fed 100 award and the Laureate Award by the Computerworld Honors Program.

Before HUD, she was the associate CIO and chief information security officer at Transportation Department and she served as the vice-president for Business Operations and Response Services for Global Integrity and a a senior manager for Ernst & Young.

Schlosser is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and did a tour of duty in the Middle East during the Iraq war.

Read her full bio after the break:

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Written by cdorobek

June 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Pre-panel prep: Building a bridge between IT and acquisition

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Communication is difficult — any of us who have been married have learned this lesson the hard way — and we do it over and over again. And in organizations, it can be intensely difficult.I get to moderate a panel next week that looks at the issue of communication between agency IT and acquisition organizations. And improving that relationship cover four of Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s 25 point IT management reform plan (PDF):
Align the Acquisition Process with the Technology Cycle
13. Design and develop a cadre of specialized IT acquisition professionals
14. Identify IT acquisition best practices and adopt government-wide
15. Issue contracting guidance and templates to support modular development
16. Reduce barriers to entry for small innovative technology companies
On Tuesday, April 26, I get to moderate a fantastic panel of luminaries to talk about the issues and challenges of bringing IT and acquisition. (More information about the 1105 Government Information Group’s Federal IT Acquisition Summit here.)

The panel:

  • Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA Headquarters
  • Simon Szykman, Chief Information Officer, Department of Commerce
  • David Wennergren, Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense
  • Roger Baker, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Department of Veteran Affairs
Read our discussion points… and add your thoughts… after the break…
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Written by cdorobek

April 21, 2011 at 5:39 PM

DorobekINSIDER: It’s officially official: Takai named DOD CIO

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In a town that has become accustom to long and tangled appointments, this one may go down in the books, but it is officially official this morning: Defense Secretary Robert Gates named Teri Takai to be the Defense Department’s chief information officer, ostensibly replacing John Grimes, who retired in April 2009. Takai will start her new job on Nov. 7.
 

Takai is widely respected in the state CIO community having served most recently as the CIO for the state of California, where she carried out an enormous consolidation of the state’s data centers. Before that, Takai was the Michigan CIO.

Teri Takai

She was first rumored for the DOD CIO post back in February and then officially nominated in March, but that nomination was waylayed — and eventually withdrawn — as Defense officials reinvented the position.

And, in fact, there are changes to the post. Previously the DOD CIO also served as the Assistant Secretary of Networks and Information Integration. That part of the position is gone and Takai will just serve as the DOD CIO.

Takai is already building a strong team. Rob Carey, the former Navy CIO who is widely respected in the federal IT community, will serve as the deputy CIO. He replaces Dave Wennergren, who will leave his position of four years as the Defense Department’s deputy CIO to be the new assistant deputy chief management officer for the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Carey started in his new post yesterday.

The DorobekINSIDER also heard that Cheryl Roby will serve as Takai’s chief of staff.

While many are heartened that there is a named DOD CIO, there are still questions about the CIOs role within DOD.

Here is Takai’s note to the California CIO staff:

From: Takai, Teri@CIO
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 1:03 PM
To: CIO All
Subject: Thank You

Dear Friends and Colleagues, I have accepted a position in the Obama Administration as the Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Department of Defense, and my last day of service in California will be November 5, 2010.  Chief Deputy Director Christy Quinlan will be Acting Chief Information Officer during the transition. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as Governor Schwarzenegger’s chief technology advisor and State Chief Information Officer, especially during a critical time of change for California’s IT program.

When I arrived in Sacramento nearly three years ago, the Office of the State Chief Information Officer (OCIO) had just been created in statute.  We set out to implement the Governor’s agenda to transform and modernize California’s aging technology infrastructure.  Starting next year, the California Technology Agency will move forward as envisioned by the Legislature and Governor as technology continues to play a vital role in delivering services to our constituents. Although there is still a lot to be done, so much has been accomplished thanks to the hard work, vision and support of Governor Schwarzenegger, Susan Kennedy, cabinet members, legislative leaders and IT professionals throughout the state.

I especially want to thank the agency and department CIOs for their leadership and many contributions to our community.  On behalf of the OCIO, we appreciate the support, interaction and time spent to dive with us into the details of policies and projects. Most of all, I want to thank the OCIO Team, including the Program Management Office, IT Policy Office, Office of Information Security, Public Safety Communications Division, Office of Technology Services, Enterprise Solutions and Services Unit and Executive Office for working so hard to serve the people of this state.  Whether working nights and weekends to move a data center with no interruption of service, building high-profile websitesor designing the next generation of emergency radio systems, the talent and dedication of our Team is unparalleled.  With the budget crisis, organizational changes and so many challenges to overcome, you have done such an incredible job, and with a great attitude and true spirit of public service.

I will miss working with you all – keep up the terrific work! I will cherish my time spent here in California and look forward to serving the public in my new position.

Teri Takai
State Chief Information Officer

Written by cdorobek

October 26, 2010 at 9:08 AM

DorobekINSIDER: NASA cyber-security chief Jerry Davis to join VA

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Jerry Davis, the widely respected chief information security officer at NASA, is leaving that agency to join the Department of Veterans Affairs, the DorobekINSIDER has confirmed.

The move had been widely rumored for months, but was just made official when Davis accepted the offer from the VA on Friday.

While NASA has has its own share of cyber-security issues, the challenges at VA are daunting. Not only is VA the second largest agency in government, but it is the poster child for cyber-security problems dating back to that now infamous stolen laptop that was loaded with millions of names and personal information on vets.

Back in 2006, the data on  26.5 million active duty troops and veterans were on the laptop and external drive, which disappeared while in the custody of a Veterans Affairs data analyst in 2006.

While none of those data became public — and it wasn’t a result of a cyber-attack but rather a common house burglary, it has become the most discussed cyber-security event, even more than four years later. And the event cost the agency $20 million in a settlement.

Read more and hear GAO’s assessment of VA’s IT situation here… or read the GAO report here. [PDF]

Davis talking about that on Federal News Radio’s Federal Security Spotlight [July 1, 2010]… and on Federal News Radio’s Federal Drive about changing ways of measuring cyber-security [May 28, 2010]

From NextGov:

[Davis told] his staff on Tuesday to shift their focus from certifying that networks are compliant with a nearly decade-old law to monitoring systems for holes and real-time reporting of threats.
The change is a watershed moment for federal information technology managers, who since 2002 have been required to follow a law that critics say forces IT staffs to spend days filling out reports that confirm technology managers have followed certain security procedures. The law did not require specific actions to secure systems, said opponents of the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Jerry Davis, NASA’s deputy chief information officer for IT security, issued a memo to information system managers informing them they no longer need to certify every three years that their networks are compliant with FISMA, as called for by the law. Instead, they should rely on automated continuous monitoring to find holes that hackers could exploit. The process will remain in effect as long as agencies are required to submit annual status reports for networks and vulnerabilities detected during the monitoring don’t pose unacceptable risk.
Here is Davis’s most recent bio:

Jerry L. Davis is the Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO), IT Security for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Jerry’s role is to provide thought leadership and oversee all aspects of Information Security and privacy for the Agency to include the development and implementation of enterprise-wide IT security engineering and architecture, IT security governance and IT security operations capabilities. Jerry’s division also generates IT and data security solutions and services to the Agency’s Space Operations, Science, Exploration Systems and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates programs and projects, while defending $1.8 billion in annual IT investments.

Previously, Jerry served as the DCIO for the Department of Education overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Department’s enterprise-wide IT infrastructure. During his tenure at the Department, Jerry also served as the Department’s first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Director, Information Assurance (IA). In this role, Jerry’s teams proactively defended over $500 million dollars in annual IT investments, which supported the $400 billion dollar grants and loans portfolio.

Jerry was one of the principal thought leaders in the design, implementation and management of the District of Columbia’s first city-wide IT Security program and served as the Manager of Wide Area Network (WAN) Security Architecture. Jerry also held positions as a senior security consultant with several Fortune 500 consulting firms, serving clients in the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD) and federal civilian agencies. Jerry held a staff position with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Operations (DO) for several years. Jerry is a combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps and trained as a Counterintelligence Specialist with focus on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations. He holds a masters degree in network security from a National Security Agency (NSA) Center of Excellence in Information Assurance and a bachelors of science in business with a concentration in IT security. Jerry has done doctoral work in the field of information systems and holds the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications. Mr Davis won the People’s Choice Award at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Region Information Security Executive of the Year and was selected as one of the 50 Most Important African Americans in Technology in 2009.

Written by cdorobek

July 26, 2010 at 8:04 AM

DorobekINSIDER: Robert Carey joins Navy cyber command

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Federal News Radio told you that Robert Carey, the widely respected CIO for the Department of the Navy, would be leaving that post.

The DorobekINSIDER has confirmed that Carey will join the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet, which is responsible for directing the Navy’s cyberspace operations. Carey has been one of the leaders for government cyber-security efforts and initiatives. And Carey mentioned the Fleet Cyber Command in a recent blog post.

No word on a timetable.

Also no word on Carey’s replacement as the Navy CIO, although I’d put money you’ll see a uniformed person in that post. (The almost unnoticed trend among DOD CIOs is that they are shifting from civilian posts to military posts. The notable exception, of course, is the nomination of Teri Takai to be the Defense Department CIO and Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information Integration. That being said, no word on where that nomination stands.)

More on the mission of the Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. Tenth Fleet:

The mission of Fleet Cyber Command is to direct Navy cyberspace operations globally to deter and defeat aggression and to ensure freedom of action to achieve military objectives in and through cyberspace; to organize and direct Navy cryptologic operations worldwide and support information operations and space planning and operations, as directed; to direct, operate, maintain, secure and defend the Navy’s portion of the Global Information Grid; to deliver integrated cyber, information operations cryptologic and space capabilities; and to deliver global Navy cyber network common cyber operational requirements.

U.S. TENTH Fleet Mission:

The mission of Tenth fleet is to serve as the Number Fleet for Fleet Cyber Command and exercise operational control of assigned Naval forces; to coordinate with other naval, coalition and Joint Task Forces to execute the full spectrum of cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and signal intelligence capabilities and missions across the cyber, electromagnetic and space domains.

The Fleet Cyber Command is led by Vice Admiral Bernard J. “Barry” McCullough III, and his deputy, Rear Admiral William E. Leigher.

Written by cdorobek

June 30, 2010 at 8:36 AM

DorobekINSIDER: An open letter to OMB: Stop the public sector bashing

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An open letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag:

Dear Mr. Orszag,

I write this with a certain regret. I have tremendous amount of respect for you and the work you have done over the years. And I appreciate the Office of Management and Budget’s initiative to cut waste across government — and improve the use of IT. I have been covering government IT for nearly 20 years — and, as I wrote in Federal Computer Week years ago, I firmly believe that the government can use technology to accomplish its mission more effectively.

And I think the administration has taken a number of positive steps in its first 18 months.

And therefore, I was pleased with Monday’s OMB announcement about the initiative to cut waste by reforming government IT. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported on the policy memos — he has been out in front covering this issue.

There are three steps to the plan:

  • Fix federal financial systems — a critical step
  • Stepped up and detailed reviews of troubled IT systems
  • A plan for improving the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. That plan will come within by October.

I even read the policies [PDF]:

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with your post on the subject. It included this line:

While a productivity boom has transformed private sector performance over the past two decades, the federal government has almost entirely missed this transformation and now lags far behind on efficiency and service quality. We are wasting billions of dollars a year, and more importantly are missing out on the huge productively improvements other sectors have benefited from.

Quite simply, we can’t significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government without fixing IT.

The emphasis is mine, not yours. But, to be honest, I found the wording unfair… and disappointing.

A few points:

It is utterly untrue to say that the federal government has “almost entirely missed this transformation.” I have been covering government technology for nearly 20 years. During that time, there have been remarkable strides. Today, IT touches just about every facet of every part of every business in government — and has utterly transformed certain parts of government. In fact, I would argue you would be hard pressed to find a part of government that hasn’t been transformed by IT.

Is there more to be done? Absolutely, and I give you and your team credit for your IT initiative… but it leads to the second point…

Please oh please retire the tired, tedious comparison between the public and private sectors. I would argue that it simply isn’t true because it isn’t a fair comparison. The challenges facing government agencies are, in many ways, larger in scope — and they are more complex — than those faced by most private sector organizations. And there are scores of cases that make this point. The one I often use are Homeland Security’s efforts to secure ports from potential terrorism. That mission can be accomplished: We can enlist resources to stop anything from coming into or out of the country. That would bring trade to a screeching halt — and having the same result on the U.S. economy… clearly not an option. And opening for any and all trade is also not an option. So the federal government has the unenviable task of finding the mix of those black-and-white options — essentially, they have to determine what is the right shade of gray.

That task is even more complex because those decisions are subject to constant hindsight review — sometimes years later. And then layer a complex management structure… within agencies… within the executive branch itself… and within Congress.

And none of this even touches on a almost utterly broken budget process where agencies are assigned money months into the fiscal year — and then told that they must spend it before the end of that fiscal year.

But even beyond that, the public-private comparison is specious because it is overly broad. What are you talking about when you highlight the private sector? Is the model General Motors? AIG?

We all have worked for private sector organizations where we have been amazed by what we deem as inefficiencies — or organizations that have terrible service quality. I now no longer use my United Visa card — put out by Chase Bank — because just about every third charge is rejected. Even worse — try to find a Chase official in their credit card division to contact.

And what are you talking about when you lambaste the public sector? There aren’t any examples of government agencies that use technology effectively?

Last year in AFCEA’s Signal magazine, I pleaded for a stop to this public-private comparison. What is most insidious about this private sector envy like the one in your post is that it feeds the false notion that government cannot do anything right, and that public employees — and public service — are somehow inept. It infers that somehow the problems agencies face are intractable… that government cannot — and does not — change… and that somehow government performance and government innovation are oxymorons.

To be blunt, it is unfair.

And even beyond that, it does something that I know you abhor: It adds no value. It adds nothing to the discussion.

You raise important issues — ones faced by both the public and private sectors — at what point to you cut off a troubled system by making the determination that continuing would be throwing good money after bad. It is a tough decision to make.

But some of the troubled programs mentioned — the Department of Veterans Affair’s financial management system and FBI’s Sentential program — are complex.

In the end, the issues you are facing are not new. I’d point to Raines Rules, published in 1996 by then OMB Director Franklin Raines to get a handle on IT systems.That OMB memo, issued under the title, “Funding Information Systems Investments,” was quickly renamed Raines’ Rules. And it became a seminal document for guiding IT management. The rules issued guidance for complying with the Information Technology Management Reform Act, which eventually became part of the Clinger-Cohen Act. It essentially set the criteria for evaluating major information system investments — and they read as if they could have been issued today.

There are issues — and I think even feds will give you credit for working to fix problems.

Again, I’m not taking away from this initiative — and the work that you and your OMB management team are doing is very important. But the slams against government are unwarranted — and unnecessary. That rhetoric simply is… not helpful, to be kind.

Sincerely,

Christopher J. Dorobek

Written by cdorobek

June 29, 2010 at 7:11 PM

DorobekINSIDER Reader: Federal Internet cookie policies

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The Office of Management and Budget has just issued a new policy for dealing with Internet “cookies” — these are text files that a Web site can put on your computer to track how you traverse the site.

Cookies enable Web site personalization — for example, the allow a Web site to remember you and, maybe, the items you put in your online shopping cart. But they have always been watched by some privacy advocates because of the potential implications — for example, they could track a visitor’s travels to other sites. [Read how cookies work here… and how to delete them here.]

The federal government has been all but banned from using persistent Internet cookies because of those privacy concerns. OMB has just issued new policy guidance would enable agencies to use this tool. And Federal News Radio’s Max Cacas reported on the new policies on the Dorobek Insider on Friday. You can find his report here.

This is an issue I’ve followed for a long time (here is the FCW editorial I wrote on the subject back in 2006) — and, to be honest, I’m suspicious of the new policy. That being said, I have just started reading them.

The new OMB policy seeks to re-balance the privacy considerations given that the ban was instituted more than a decade ago. The idea: Times have changed and people are more accepting of these tools.

As I say, I’m reading the policies now, but… It is important to be very clear — agencies were absolutely not banned from using cookies. They had been banned from using PERSISTENT cookies — cookies that can track you long term. I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments that came in — and unfortunately OMB has not kept those comments online. And I still have to read the policies, but… I have year to hear a convincing argument why agencies must have persistent cookies. Some argue that the private sector does it, but that argument is specious — the government is not the private sector. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the private sector does. (Should government follow the Facebook privacy model?)

Let’s be very clear — this is not the most critical privacy issue facing government. That being said, it doesn’t help. People are already distrustful of government. I have yet to be convinced of the enormous public good that comes from using this tracking tool that one cannot accomplish otherwise. Again, agencies can use cookies — just not persistent cookies. How does it make people feel about their government if they feel like they are being tracked? (The stopwatch is running until the first story comes out of people using cookies to actually track people using government Web sites.)

I’m reading the new policies with an open mind, but… I’m very suspicious.

Regardless, I thought it was an opportunity to pull together the DorobekINSIDER Reader on the OMB cookie policy with background information, given that this has been going on for a long time…

The 2010 cookie/federal Web privacy policies:

* OMB policy M-10-22: Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies [PDF] [Scribd]

* OMB policy M-10-23: Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications [PDF] [Scribd]

* The OMB “fact sheet” on the two policies

View this document on Scribd

How these came about…
Giving OMB credit, they tried to evolve these policies in a relatively public way. As I seem to say a lot these days, I think they could have developed it in a public way. That being said, it would be nice if the comments were still available.

Here were some of the discussion:

White House blog post from July 24, 2009: Federal Websites: Cookie Policy
By federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Michael Fitzpatrick, associate administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Policy

During the Open Government Initiative outreach, Federal employees and the public have asked us questions about the federal government’s policy on cookies. As part of our effort to create a more open and innovative government, we’re working on a new cookie policy that we’ll want your input on. But before we get into that, let’s provide some context.

In June 2000, the OMB Director issued a memorandum (M-00-13, later updated by M-03-22) that prohibited Federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, due to privacy concerns, unless the agency head approved of these technologies because of a compelling need. That was more than nine years ago. In the ensuing time, cookies have become a staple of most commercial websites with widespread public acceptance of their use. For example, every time you use a “shopping cart” at an online store, or have a website remember customized settings and preferences, cookies are being used.

Read the full post — and the comments — here.

* The Federal Register item that went along with that comment period.

* WhiteHouse.gov blog post: Enhancing Online Citizen Participation Through Policy [June 16, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick

Last week, Vivek Kundra and Katie Stanton talked about the efforts underway to introduce more Web 2.0 technologies to the federal government sites and to open more back-and-forth communication between the American people and the government. Some of this naturally requires the adoption of new approaches and innovative technologies. But another big part of this is updating existing practices and how these tools can be used to break down barriers to communication and information.

We continue to ask for your feedback, but the best feedback is informed feedback. So what follows is background on current policies and some examples of what we’ve heard from you during the Brainstorming phase of our outreach.

Here is the specific section on cookies:

FEDERAL COOKIE POLICY: This has been a challenging issue to navigate. Put in place in 2000 to protect the privacy of Americans, the federal cookie policy limited the use of persistent cookies by federal agencies. A cookie, as many readers here know, is a small piece of software that tracks or authenticates web viewing activities by the user. In the nine years since this was put in place, website cookies have become more mainstream as users want sites to recognize their preferences or keep track of the items in their online shopping carts. We’ve heard a lot of feedback on this area. One person put it all together. “Persistent cookies are very useful as an indirect feedback mechanism for measuring effectiveness of government web sites . . . Cookies allow a greater level of accuracy in measuring unique visitors . . . Being able to look at returning visitors allows us to see what

Recognizing the fundamental change in technology in the past nine years, and the feedback that we’ve received so far, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reexamining the cookie policy as part of this Open Government Initiative. There is a tough balance to find between citizen privacy and the benefits of persistent cookies, and we would welcome your thoughts on how best to strike it.

Read the rest of the post here.

* WhiteHouse.gov blog: Cookies Anyone (the http kind)? [July 24, 2009]
By Bev Godwin, who was on assignment to the White House at the time. She is currently GSA’s Director of USA.gov and the Office of Citizen Service’s Web Best Practices Office

Nine years ago – a lifetime in Internet time – the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a policy commonly referred to as “the cookies policy. “This policy prohibited federal agencies from using certain web-tracking technologies, primarily persistent cookies, unless the agency head provided a waiver. This may sound like arcane, boring policy – but it is really important in the online world.

Unfortunately in this post, Godwin points to a site where people could post comments — http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/07/24/cookiepolicy. Unfortunately that page doesn’t seem to exist. It would be great to see the comments now.content is important to our citizens. We can use that data to improve the content and navigation of our sites.”

* WhiteHouse.gov blog post: On Cookies [August 11, 2009]
By Kundra and Fitzpatrick

Over the past two weeks, during the public comment period on OMB’s cookie policy, we have received significant feedback and suggested revisions to the current policy. These comments reflect individual opinions on all sides of the issue.

Our main goal in revisiting the ban on using persistent cookies on Federal websites is to bring the federal government into the 21st century. Consistent with this Administration’s commitment to making government more open and participatory, we want federal agencies to be able to provide the same user- friendly, dynamic, and citizen-centric websites that people have grown accustomed to using when they shop or get news online or communicate through social media networks, while also protecting people’s privacy.

It is clear that protecting the privacy of citizens who visit government websites must be one of the top considerations in any new policy. This is why we’ve taken such a cautious approach going forward and why we felt it so important to get feedback and hear from people on this. While we wanted to get people’s ideas for improving our policy, we also needed to hear any concerns so that we could understand better where potential pitfalls might lie.

This privacy issue has recently received some attention in the media. We want to make it clear that the current policy on Federal agencies’ use of cookies has not changed. Moreover, the policy won’t change until we’ve read the public comments that have been submitted to ensure that we’re considering all sides of the issue and are addressing privacy concerns appropriately.

Continue reading the full post here.

Going back a decade… some of the discussion that led to the persistent cookie ban.

* Letter from then Commerce Department CIO Roger Baker, now the CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to John Spotila on Federal agency use of Web cookies (July 28, 2000)

[The CIO Council] strongly support the requirement that the use of any technology, including persistent cookies, to track the activities of users on web sites be approved personally by the head of the executive department (for the 14 executive departments) or agency.

As we make progress towards electronic government, personalization of web sites, typically done through persistent cookies, may become necessary in order to serve our customer’s requirements. At that time, it would be appropriate for OMB to review the “no delegation” policy in light of the then-current “state-of-the-art” in privacy protections. For example, OMB may decide to relax this policy when customers are given a choice of selecting either a personalized (i.e., with persistent cookie) or non-personalized (no persistent cookie) web experience.

* Letter from Spotila to Baker, clarification of OMB Cookies Policy (September 5, 2000)

We are concerned about persistent cookies even if they do not themselves contain personally identifiable information. Such cookies can often be linked to a person after the fact, even where that was not the original intent of the web site operator. For instance, a person using the computer later may give his or her name or e-mail address to the agency. It may then be technically easy for the agency to learn the complete history of the browsing previously done by users of that computer, raising privacy concerns even when the agency did not originally know the names of the users.

* M-00-13, Privacy Policies and Data Collection on Federal Web Sites (June 22, 2000)

* M-99-18, Privacy Policies on Federal Web Sites (June 2, 1999)

Written by cdorobek

June 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Treasury’s Gross to be deputy CIO at Interior

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Lawrence Gross, the Treasury Department’s associate CIO for e-government, is moving to the Interior Department.

Gross will leave Treasury at the end of this week. Starting June 28, Gross will be the Interior Department’s deputy chief information officer.

Prior to his tenure at Treasury, Gross served at the Energy and Justice Department. He also served as the Chief, Information Technology and Telecommunications at United States Navy Reserve.

Last month, Interior named Bernard Mazer to be its new chief information technology officer. Mazer, who has been CIO at Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), will start his new post June 7. That came after Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia left to become the deputy associate administrator for innovative technologies at GSA.

Written by cdorobek

June 21, 2010 at 11:49 AM

DorobekINSIDER: GSA reorganizes, Interior shuffles – and the CIO moves

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These posts are often difficult to write because… well, the situation appears fluid and the facts aren’t all in place yet. And given the nature of the issues, people don’t really want to talk about it. That being said, it appears there are a number of changes afoot at GSA, where GSA Administrator Martha Johnson is continuing her broad reorganization of that agency, and at the Interior Department.

As I said, details are still sketchy and it doesn’t appear that everything is locked down yet, but… here is what we are hearing:

* GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications will be transformed into the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology. Dave McClure, the Associate Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration Office of Citizen Services and Communications, will have two deputies, we hear. Martha Dorris, the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Citizens Services, will lead the citizen services part of the organization… and Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, currently in the Interior Department CIO, will become something like the Deputy Associate Administrator for innovative technologies. In that role, he will be leading issues like cloud computing and DATA.gov.

We hear that Bhagowalia’s last will be tomorrow — and he will start at GSA on Monday, May 24. Bhagowalia was testifying just this morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the transition — or lack thereof — to the Networx telecommunications contract. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller tried to ask him about his shift, but Bhagowalia said he couldn’t answer questions. (So… we have tried to get this information from official sources.)

* Interior Department CIO organization… We haven’t been able to nail these down precisely either, but… we hear that Bhagowalia will be replaced by Bernie Mazer, who is currently the CIO at Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.

* Interior Department’s National Business Center… There have also been changes at Interior’s National Business Center. Doug Bourgeois, Director of the Interior Department’s National Business Center, has left that post and is now at VMwar as the vice president and chief cloud executive. We hear there could be other changes. Donald Swain, who had been serving as NBC’s chief of staff, is the acting director.

Written by cdorobek

May 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM