By GCN Staff

IT spending in SLED market outside IT shops

Low-tech sectors to see more IT spending

Cash-strapped state, local and education (SLED) agencies started feeling the budget pinch around April 2014 and began reeling in their IT spending compared to the previous year.

But while IT departments were decreasing their investments, other areas like education, law enforcement and road construction have been “using technology to better meet their objectives while reducing overall (non-IT) costs,” according to a recent report by Onvia, a government business development consultant.

More communities are investing in body cameras to document the behaviors of public safety officers as a means to increase accountability.  Reports indicate body camera technology has doubled from 2013 to 2014.  In fact, President Obama recently requested $263 million for body cameras at the state and local level.  In the past, municipalities have paid between $50,000 and $ 1 million for body camera contracts, and there are potentially 9,000 departments that are interested in similar procurements in 2015, Onvia said.

Similarly, communities are also projected to increase investment and procurement of school bus cameras to ensure greater student safety.  Most commonly, buses are outfitted with three cameras – inside and outside – and some communities have invested in equipping their entire bus fleet with them.    

The education sector has rapidly increased the use of tablets and laptops to keep up with global technology proliferation trends.  Tablet contracting increased 21 percent between 2013 and 2014, and this growth is expected to continue.  In 2013, 85 percent of Chromebooks sold were placed in school systems, which numbered 2.5 million devices.  Other vendors, like Curricula, have focused on bringing technology such as 3D printing into the classroom. 

As more people primarily use their mobile devices to access the Internet, governments are making their services and websites more mobile friendly.  As such, state and local governments are investing in open data and engagement tools as well as crowdsourcing technology to help drive innovation.

Procurement of intelligent transportation systems has increased by 13 percent, Onvia reported, a trend that is also expected to continue.  Intelligent transportation systems are used by state and local governments to alleviate traffic congestion through a combination of sensors, computers and fiber optic networks that update traffic signals in real time based on the current traffic. 

The full report is available from the Onvia website.  

Posted on Jan 13, 2015 at 10:25 AM0 comments

PIN and chip card

Air Force to issue smart travel cards

Like most businesses, the federal government has been concerned about combating fraud and identity theft among its employees. President Obama issued an executive order in October mandating federal agencies make upgrades to their payment and travel systems to increase the security of financial transactions. 

Keeping in line with the president’s vision, the Air Force announced it will begin to issue chip and personal identification number-enabled government travel cards this month to those applying for new cards, those who need replacements or those whose cards will expire this year.  

The new cards from Citibank are embedded with a microchip that provides for transaction encryption and an elevated level of authentication. Chip and PIN technology strengthens data security, better protecting cardholders’ personally identifiable information, as well as the government’s sensitive transaction and payment data.

Furthermore, Citi’s chip and PIN cards do not use RFID and so are not susceptible to “skimming issues,” in which hackers remotely read information from RFID cards. Citi’s cards will include both chip technology and magnetic stripe technology, commonly found in ATM cards. 

More primitive cards that merely feature magnetic stripes and PINs are less secure as they are incapable of dynamic authentication, a process that generates a different transaction code at every transaction ensuring greater data protection.      

“Starting in January 2015, only Chip and PIN travel charge cards will be issued to DOD personnel,” according to a fact sheet by the Defense Travel Management Office.  

Posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 11:31 AM0 comments

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Government now available

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Government is now generally available to all U.S. government customers and partners.

First announced in December, CRM Online for Government is based on the Microsoft Dynamics’ public cloud offering, designed for FedRAMP compliance and operated by cleared personnel in the continental United States.

Featuring core case management functionality, Dynamics CRM Online Government lets agencies modernize business applications quickly and inexpensively, Microsoft said. The tool connects departments, teams and data, “making it ideal for an expansive variety of use cases, including field inspections, constituent service and task management,” the company added.

Microsoft said that Dynamics customers will be able to use existing on-premises investments and benefit from integration with Azure and Office 365 government community clouds to help ensure secure access to public sector applications and workflows.

CRM Online is already used in King County, Wash., which is migrating a number of citizen service solutions and correspondence tracking workloads to Dynamics CRM Online for Government.

The company also announced partners who have developed CRM Online-based solutions for government, such as Investigative Management from Planet Technologies, Public Records Tracker from Webfortis and Event Permitting from Tribridge.

Posted on Jan 07, 2015 at 10:34 AM1 comments

Mobile apps promise time savings for citizens, caseworkers

Mobile apps promise time savings for citizens, caseworkers

While agencies build out their mobile services delivery, a recent survey suggests citizens are ready to use their smartphones to connect with government. 

Nearly half (46 percent) of the recipients of assistance from human services agencies surveyed by Accenture say they would likely download and use a mobile application for obtaining services. That number jumped to 64 percent when survey respondents were asked if they would be interested in mobile access to such day-to-day activities as checking their benefits, applying for assistance or submitting questions to caseworkers.

According to the survey, the most common means of citizen interaction with social services agencies currently is via telephone (32 percent), followed by in-person office visits (23 percent).  Only 9 percent of respondents, on average, say they now make use of websites for dealing with their human services-related activities. 

Human services apps can deliver significant benefits to citizens by eliminating visits to the human services office. Because apps lower call volume and in-person visits and automate basic services, caseworkers can work more efficiently. In fact, Accenture estimates that the broad use of mobile apps among citizens could save caseworkers and their agencies 62 days worth of time per year.

“The benefits of convenience and time savings associated with mobile applications address the biggest pain points people associate with visiting human services offices,” said Debora Morris, managing director, for Accenture Integrated Social Services. “Mobile applications also can provide potential benefits to agencies to reduce costs to serve citizens while freeing up caseworkers for higher value-added activities. We estimate that an average-sized U.S. state human services agency could save around $14 million annually by deploying mobile apps for citizens.”

Posted on Jan 05, 2015 at 9:04 AM0 comments

NIST revises guidance on security, privacy assessments

NIST revises guidance on security, privacy assessments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has revised Special Publication 800-53A, Assessing Security and Privacy Controls in Federal Information Systems and Organizations: Building Effective Assessment Plans. This fourth revision contains significant changes to the 2010 version of the publication in content and format, according to NIST.

The publication is intended to provide guidelines for building security and privacy assessment plans as well as a comprehensive set of procedures for assessing security and privacy controls used in information systems and organizations.

The guidelines have been developed to help achieve more secure information systems within the federal government by:

  • Enabling more consistent, comparable and repeatable assessments.
  • Promoting a better understanding of risks resulting from the operation and use of federal information systems.
  • Facilitating more cost-effective assessments of security and privacy controls.
  • Creating more complete, reliable, and trustworthy information to support risk management decisions, reciprocity of assessment results, information sharing, and compliance to federal laws and policies.

Based on feedback from federal agencies that have conducted actual assessments as part of the risk management framework process, NIST made improvements in current security assessment procedures, including:

  • Clarification of terminology.
  • Expansion of the number of potential assessment methods and objects on a per-control basis.
  • A simpler decomposition of assessment objects to align more closely with security control statements.

The changes should result in significant improvements in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of control assessments for federal agencies, which NIST said will give senior leaders the information they need to understand the security and privacy of their organizations and to be able to make credible, risk-based information security and privacy decisions.

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM0 comments