SIIA Says Fed IT Acquisition Reform is Moving in the Right Direction, But Concerns Remain

SIIA today applauded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the House Government Oversight & Reform Committee for including many of the organization’s recommendations in legislation to reform federal IT acquisition, but said further changes are still needed. Following the bill’s mark-up today, SIIA outlined several key areas that it believes must be addressed for the bill to have the intended positive impact on the federal IT marketplace.

Chairman Issa and his staff have clearly recognized that, more than 16 years after Clinger Cohen became law, federal IT acquisition reform is long overdue. We’ve been working closely with the Chairman and the Committee, and believe that the marked-up version of the legislation is much improved and headed in the right direction.

SIIA remains supportive of the legislation’s objectives, but we continue to have concerns with several specific provisions and the impact they will have on federal IT marketplace. Following today’s mark-up, we will continue to work with Chairman Issa and the committee in order to make improvements in four key areas. We remain very hopeful that, with careful consideration and deliberation, Congress will develop an effective solution to this important concern.

SIIA is seeking changes to the legislation in a number of areas, including:

* Removal of the provision that would create a standardized approach to security assessments for cloud products and services. This provision would essentially establish the FedRAMP process in statute and could conflict with FISMA requirements, creating confusion for cloud companies seeking to do business with the federal government.
* Revising the software licensing provisions, which currently fail to recognize the value of resellers, the varying types of user licenses, and the overall scope of software licensing in the federal government. The current provisions could potentially create additional barriers to entry for small and minority businesses.
* Revising the provision asking agencies to justify not using the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) for any purchase of services and supplies offered under FSSI. The current provision appears to give an unfair preference for FSSI, and the vast majority of IT products and services purchased by the federal government are too complex to be effectively purchased using FSSI.
* Updating the section on website transparency to make open data the default for government and to embrace the use of open application program interfaces (APIs).

Read SIIA’s full comments.

Michael Hettinger is VP for the Public Sector Innovation Group (PSIG) at SIIA. Follow his PSIG tweets at @SIIAPSIG. Sign up for the Public Sector Innovation Roundup email newsletter for weekly updates.

SIIA Urges Support for Legislation to Reform ECPA as House Subcommittee Examines Cloud Privacy

SIIA called for a level playing field for cloud computing as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations prepares for a hearing tomorrow regarding reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

We have seen tremendous technological advances in communications and computing technology since 1986, when ECPA was enacted. The legal framework provided by this outdated statue leaves both providers and users of remote computing with a complex and baffling set of rules. These rules are both difficult to explain and to apply in this age of networked and cloud computing.

SIIA urges members of the Judiciary Committee to work with all deliberate speed to enact legislation creating a warrant requirement for law enforcement access to remotely stored electronic content.  It is critical to level the playing field for information Americans store in the cloud, ensuring that it receives the same protection as the information they store in their homes.

Ken WaschKen Wasch is President of SIIA. Follow the SIIA Software team on twitter at @SIIASoftware.

Rep. Issa & Other Leaders to Keynote SIIA Cloud/GOV, the Leading Forum on Federal Adoption of Data-Driven Cloud Computing

SIIA is announcing today that Cloud/GOV – the leading conference on cloud computing in the public sector – will take place February 12 at the Westin City Center Hotel in Washington, D.C.  By gathering policymakers, government executives and private sector technology companies, Cloud/Gov will help all parties develop solutions and share information as federal agencies continue transitioning to the cloud and harness data analytics.

This year’s event will feature discussions from a diverse group of influential government IT advisors, leading software executives and policymakers, including:

  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman, Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, U.S. House of Representatives
  • David DeVries, Deputy CIO, Information Enterprise, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Dawn Leaf, Deputy Chief Information Officer, United States Department of Labor
  • Peter Tseronis, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of Energy

The conference will also gather a panel of government CIOs to discuss their move to the cloud and provide advice for other federal executives with organizational concerns. Other presentations will address emerging FedRAMP-related issues, the convergence of the cloud and “big data” analytics as well as a comprehensive look at federal policy changes that could impact cloud computing in 2013. Additionally, vendors representing all segments of the public sector will highlight the latest innovations in cloud-based government IT.

For a complete schedule of events, visit

Michael Hettinger is VP for the Public Sector Innovation Group (PSIG) at SIIA. Follow his PSIG tweets at @SIIAPSIG.

SIIA Partners with ITIF on Data Innovation Day

SIIA is happy to announce that they will partner with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) for Data Innovation Day, coming tomorrow, January 24, 2013.  Data Innovation Day works to raise awareness about the benefits and opportunities that come from increased use of information both by individuals and the public/private sector.

This year’s theme is “Big Data. Bigger Opportunities.”

As part of Data Innovation Day, ITIF will host panel discussions in DC on how government agencies are using data to make government work more effectively and efficiently, as well as highlighting interesting examples of how data innovation is transforming different sectors of the economy. DMA will also host a virtual event to celebrate data-driven marketing innovation – and to engage data-driven marketers in the growing data debate that is taking shape in Washington and around the world. For more information, visit the Data Innovation Day schedule of events.

Tracy Carlin is a Communications and Public Policy Intern at SIIA. She is also a first year graduate student at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology program where she focuses on intersections in education, video games and gender.

SIIA Announces Commitment to Data-Driven Innovation as a Top Policy Priority in 2013

The SIIA Government Affairs Council met Wednesday to outline the organization’s policy priorities for 2013.  In addition to identifying the specific initiatives it will pursue in the year ahead, SIIA and its member companies expressed a commitment to making data-driven innovation a top policy priority in the year ahead.  The SIIA Government Affairs Council includes: Reed Elsevier, IBM, Adobe, Cengage, Dow Jones, Intuit,  Kaplan, Kiplinger, Google, McGraw Hill Education, McGraw Hill Financial, Oracle, Pearson, Red Hat, SAS, and Thomson Reuters.

A key theme unifying the work of SIIA on behalf of its members is an increased focus on advancing the effective collection and positive use of data. It is essential that public policy recognizes that innovation and business strategies are increasingly driven by data. Importantly, data-driven innovation not only holds the promise of advancing economic opportunity and jobs, but of providing tremendous consumer and societal benefits.

With so much at stake, SIIA is committed to actively promoting the economic and social value of data-driven innovation. Our efforts will involve direct outreach to legislators, along with a White Paper that includes recommendations for policymakers and governments. Our goal is to make certain that public policy helps enable the tremendous societal and economic benefits of data-driven innovation.

With members in both technology and information services, SIIA is uniquely positioned to highlight and address the public policy issues that arise from the increased salience of data-driven innovation. We began to focus more strongly on this issue in 2012, and it will be an even more important part of our work in 2013.

SIIA also announced its general tech policy priorities for 2013, along with policy priorities in the areas of: intellectual property; public sector IT, and; education technology. [Read more...]

This Week in Public Sector Innovation

OMB Delays Passback Creating Uncertainty for CIOs:The ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over how to resolve the looming fiscal cliff has delayed OMB’s budget guidance, also known as passback, making it difficult for agencies to plan expenditures for the remainder of FY2013 and budgets for FY2014.  Particularly in limbo, according to this Federal News Radio article are agency CIOs who have been tasked with modernizing IT systems, enhancing network security and moving commodity IT to shared service centers but feel they haven’t been provided enough information to effectively plan.  Further complicating this is that once the situation is resolved, the timeframe for requests, negotiations and appeals related to the FY2014 budget cycle will be compressed.

DHS Releases Continuous Monitoring RFQ:  In cybersecurity news, DHS, working through GSA, released a final RFQ this week seeking bids to meet requirements  of the new Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation program and for continuous monitoring as-a-service.  The BPA includes 15 tools and 11 task areas aimed at improving DHS’s IT security.  The BPA has an estimated value of $6 billion and responses are due January 28, 2013. Federal News Radio has the details.

PSIG Members Featured in 10th Anniversary of the E-Gov Act Event:  This week marked the 10th anniversary of the E-Gov Act and SIIA PSIG Members Doug Bourgeois of VMware, Mark Forman of Government Transaction Services and David Mihalchik of Google all were featured prominently in the event marking the anniversary.  Other SIIA members were included as well, including Dan Chenok of IBM and former Congressman Tom Davis, now of Deloitte.  C Span covered the event, which focused on the advances made in government technology since passage of the E-Gov Act.  See the video here.

 Appian Receives FISMA Moderate Certification from GSA:  Appian announced this week that it had received FISMA moderate certification from the General Services Administration for a major business process management application, built on Appian Cloud.  Appian Cloud is built on Amazon Web Services.  See the press release for more information.

Federal News Radio to host live chat with CBP CIO:  Our friends at Federal News Radio are hosting a live chat on January 3rd at 11am with DHS Customs and Border Protection CIO Charlie Armstrong and are encouraging interested parties to submit questions in advance.  See the link for more details.

Michael Hettinger is VP for the Public Sector Innovation Group (PSIG) at SIIA. Follow his PSIG tweets at @SIIAPSIG.

SIIA Welcomes State Department’s Interventions on Cloud Computing and Privacy

Last week U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, William Kennard, addressed Forum Europe’s 3rd Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference, and responded to the myth that the U. S. system of government access to information is a threat to the privacy rights of citizens of the other countries. He was especially effective in rebutting concerns directed at cloud computing, where the misconception has developed that information stored in cloud computing servers can be accessed by the U.S. government without any effective privacy controls.

His intervention is a welcome attempt to set the record straight before these erroneous beliefs become widespread and entrenched.  It was accompanied the release of State Department white paper that dispels the misconceptions about the U.S. legal system and government access to information.

The fact is that the U.S. has a well-developed and established system to protect individual liberties from government intrusion.  We have a general distrust of a powerful government and are suspicious of anything that advances the growth of government power.  Our bias is in favor of a limited government that lets people chose their own good in their own way.  As a result we are far less tolerant of government intrusion into our private lives than other countries, and have set up a system whereby the U.S. extends privacy protections to non-U.S. citizens as well.

At the same time, the U.S. is more tolerant of the use of information for innovative and productive use by businesses than other countries, to our great advantage in the race for economic growth, business development and job creation.  Our system of protecting the individual privacy in the business context shows that this can be done while maintaining strong and effective protections for consumer privacy. This system also respects the rights of non-U.S. consumers established in other privacy regimes.

None of this means that the U.S. system is perfect.  We think that steps can be taken to improve the consumer privacy system for mobile app notifications and are actively working with the U.S. Commerce Department and other stakeholders on a voluntary code of conduct and an effective system of screen notices.  We have joined with others in the Digital Due Process Coalition to modernize the 1986 U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which needs updating to fit the realities of email and document storage in the cloud.

But the need for these reforms does not suggest that the current U.S. system is a threat to privacy or justifies a move away from cloud computing as a way to avoid government scrutiny.  Ambassador Kennard is to be commended for his strong defense of the U.S. approach to privacy in the cloud.

Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology. Follow the SIIA Public Policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy

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