Nominations Now Open for the 2014 ‘NextGen’ Technology Awards

The SIIA Software Division announced today that 18 cutting edge companies in the technology industry will be recognized in the 2014 NextGen program.

SIIA’s NextGen program provides exposure to early-stage companies delivering game-changing solutions. The program aims to bring awareness to 6 verticals: Mobile, Social, Big Data, Security, Healthcare, and Financial Services. Nominating companies will be judged by a group of industry experts who will determine which company is the Most Innovative, Most Disruptive, and who is the overall NexGen winner of the category.

Much of the discussion about market disruption has focused on large, brand name businesses, but there is tremendous innovation taking place at companies that get little attention. NextGen companies– chosen by a Selection Committee comprised of M&A, VC and advisory executives–are young businesses that offer cutting-edge software and services.

NextGen winners will be announced on a progressive basis throughout 2014. Deadlines and awards presentations are as follows:

  • Mobile vertical nominations close January 31, and awards will be held Feb 12.
  • Social vertical nominations close March 31, and awards will be held April 11
  • Big data vertical nominations will close May 31, and awards will be held June 13
  • Security vertical nominations will close July 31, and awards will be held August 20
  • Healthcare vertical nominations will close September 30, and awards will be held October 17
  • Financial Services vertical nominations will close November 30, and awards will be held December 12

Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.

Following Today’s Oversight Hearing, SIIA Says Sheds Light on Problems of IT Acquisition More Generally

Today’s House Oversight Committee Hearing on the problems facing highlight the continuing challenges with and also with federal IT acquisition and deployment more generally.  If the problems of lead to improved IT acquisition, then there is a bright side to what has otherwise been a difficult situation.

Acquiring and deploying information technology is difficult, and the implementation of a system as complex as is not easy.  There are literally dozens of feeder systems fueling the site, and an equal number of contractors and subcontractors adding to the complexity.

These challenges demonstrate that we need to continue to think creatively about ways to improve federal IT acquisition.  It’s critical that we add flexibility to what is a cumbersome process, keeping in mind that federal acquisition is a rules-based process designed to manage the inherent risk associated with it.

Ideas like those that have been proposed by Chairman Issa in his Federal IT Acquisition Reform legislation would go a long way to improving the process.  SIIA supports Chairman Issa’s efforts to increase the authority of federal CIOs, establish acquisition centers of excellence and make sure our acquisition personnel are properly trained.

Since the launch of the Obama Administration’s 25 Point Plan over 3 years ago, we have made significant progress in focusing attention on this issue but more work is needed.”

SIIA will hold an event next Monday, November 18th, featuring House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA).  “Driving Government Innovation” will provide insight on how technology will make the government more efficient, effective, open and transparent.

In addition to Rep. Issa, the event will feature a panel discussion with industry experts:

  • Doug Bourgeois, VP, Services and Solutions, VMware
  • Mark Forman, Founder, Government Transaction Services and former OMB Administrator for E-Gov
  • John Landwehr, VP, Digital Government Solutions, Adobe
  • Dan Chenok, Executive Director, IBM Center for the Business of Government

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 Alert: Government Shutdown Looming — How Government Contractors Should Prepare

With Congress and the President seemingly at loggerheads over federal spending, there is an increasing possibility that the federal government will shut down on October 1 when the funding for the current fiscal year expires.   While we’ve been down this road before, each of the last 3 years for example, prudent business planning suggests that government contractors should be preparing themselves in the event there is a shut down.

What’s the status?  Congress has failed to enact any of the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY 2014 and the current fiscal year funding is set to expire at midnight on October 1, meaning funding for the entire federal government is at stake.  On September 20, 2013 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 15.  Also included in this legislation was language defunding the so-called Obamacare health care plan.  The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to strip the language defunding Obamacare and send the bill back to the House.  This sets up a potential gridlock situation and it is unclear if either side is willing to budge.

Why does this matter?  As a government contractor you need to be prepared in the event of a shutdown, since funding for many if not all of your current contracts may be affected.  Your employees are reading the news and they know the potential and they want to know their leadership is making contingency plans.

What should you do?  OMB has sent a memo to government agencies telling them to prepare for a shutdown and prudent business planning suggests you need to be ready too.  Here’s a quick checklist of things you should be doing and thinking about related to a potential shutdown:

  1. Be Proactive:  Don’t sit back and let the rumors swirl, take charge of the situation within your company.
  2. Communicate:  Communicate honestly, early and often with your employees about what you know and what you expect will happen if the government shuts down.  Make sure your company speaks with “one voice.” This will keep misinformation (i.e. rumors of furloughs and layoffs) to a minimum.
  3. Understand Your Contracts:  Review your current contracts to understand which will be affected in the event of a shutdown and which will continue.  Projects funded by revolving funds for example won’t be affected.
  4. Gather Intelligence:  Gather as much intelligence as possible by talking to industry partners and trade associations and having your engagement managers talk to their contracting officers and COTRs, i.e. the client.
  5. Set Up a War Room:  Set up a formal process inside your company to monitor developments related to the potential shutdown, a “war room” if you will.  Be ready to kick it into high gear if a shutdown occurs.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope that Congress and the President are able to work out an agreement that keeps the government open and operating beyond October 1, while preparing yourselves for a potential shutdown through effective communication with your employees and smart business planning. Contact me at or (202) 789-4456 with any questions.

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 Welcomes Progress on Federal IT Acquisition Reform; Expresses Lingering Concerns

SIIA today welcomed the advancement of federal IT acquisition reform. Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment (Amendment #166) authored by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee adding the language of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) to the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.  With this action the proposed reform has taken another step forward, but SIIA continues to have concerns with a number of provisions in the bill.

Federal IT acquisition reform is long overdue, and we appreciate the work of Chairman Issa, Rep. Connolly and their respective staffs to recognize the critical need for reform move it forward. FITARA puts in place needed changes in IT acquisition, including increasing the authority of federal CIOs, promoting data center optimization, and recognizing the importance of a highly trained IT acquisition workforce.

SIIA has worked closely with Chairman Issa and other members of the Committee to revise the legislation since its March mark-up, while the Committee has moved forward with many of the changes, including those that preserve the important role of Value Added Resellers (VAR) in the federal market, the organization  remains concerned about the net effect of the changes to the language around the use of open source software and the language that would alter the application of FISMA by, in essence, codifying the FedRAMP program.

While SIIA is pleased to see FITARA move forward and remains supportive of its overall objectives, we still have concerns with a number of specific provisions. We have expressed our concerns to the committee and look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Issa and interested members in the U.S. Senate to resolve these lingering issues, and ensure that the bill has the intended positive impact on the federal IT marketplace.

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.

Data Driven Innovation Case Study: Pearson-Enabling the Digital Ocean to Improve Student Outcomes

Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) benefits all sectors of our economy, increases efficiency, saves money and resources, and improves quality of life. From safety and security, to the environment and infrastructure, to health and education, the opportunities for DDI to improve our lives are boundless. In SIIA’s whitepaper, Data-Driven Innovation A Guide for Policymakers: Understanding and Enabling the Economic and Social Value of Data, we explored the ways our member companies are leveraging data to provide cutting edge solutions. Here’s one case study, from Pearson:

Today, we’re in the digital ocean. We can gather information about students’ daily learning activities and interactions with content as they happen in computer-based instruction. The increase of technology-based learning in schools enables us to have all students doing meaningful activity on digital devices. Computers now allow us to capture all kinds of data about what students do as they interact with learning material, seamlessly recorded as they go about their daily learning activity. These interactions can produce an “ocean” of data that, if used correctly, can give us a completely different view of how students progress in acquiring knowledge, skills, and attributes.

This ability to capture data from everyday student learning activity should fundamentally change how we think about assessment.

Invisible assessments allow us to gather information much more frequently without interrupting the flow of instruction, hence the term “invisible.” This lets us provide teachers, students, and parents with feedback about progress immediately and in time to make adjustments to teaching and learning. It also eliminates the common complaint about the heavy time requirements of traditional assessment.

By capturing many, many observations of a student’s learning activity over time, we are able to build models of student learning and proficiency without the pressure of performance on a single test.

David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPubPolicy.

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.

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