By GCN Staff

New edition of Google Analytics for Government posted

Government website managers looking to get a better handle on their sites’ traffic and system performance have a new resource.  Sarah Kaczmarek released a second edition of her Google Analytics for Government training manual. 

As the digital communications manager for the Government Accountability Office, Kaczmarek develops and manages all digital communication projects for the 3,000-person federal agency. Her manual includes chapters on getting started, interpreting core reports, setting up conversion goals, customization, and a glossary of the terms used in Google Analytics.

According to the blog post announcing the manual, the second edition has gone through an extensive rewrite, based on Kaczmarek’s own experience and insights from people who have shared their stories with her.  Some of the new sections include audience demographics and interests reports using real-time data, as well as campaign tracking. There’s also information on setting up accounts, managing users and standard reporting.

For website managers seeking more information, DigitalGov has links to a series of webinars showing how to create meaningful metrics from Google Analytics as well as using templates for reporting metrics on a weekly, quarterly and annual basis. 

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 9:21 AM0 comments

FOSE briefs: IT management, BYOD, open source, cybersecurity framework

FOSE's three-day conference and expo addresses the technology and management priorities and issues for government across cloud, cybersecurity, mobile, big data and more. Here are some of the more newsworthy announcements from among the keynotes, panels and conference sessions.

FOSE 2014

Find out about the keynotes, programs, sessions and exhibits featured at this year's FOSE conference and expo. Read more.

Cobert tees up IT management plans

Even as the federal government seeks to streamline IT acquisition to include more technology startups, a plan is afoot to capture existing knowledge about how to best use Federal Acquisition Regulation guidelines to support agile procurement, said Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, during a keynote speech May 13 at 1105 Media's FOSE conference.

Some specifics include the development of a "digital services playbook" of best practices in IT procurement, design and deployment. The goal is to identify best practices and share them across the government.

Those lessons will be reinforced by the deployment of two specialized teams: the digital services team at the U.S. CIO's office, which is seeking funding to help agencies with high-profile IT projects, and the 18F team at the General Services Administration, which helps agencies build websites and other public-facing federal IT projects.

BYOD coming soon to NASA

NASA's bring-your-own-device policy is expected to be approved within weeks, said John Sprague, the agency's enterprise applications service executive.

Although NASA is a relative latecomer to the BYOD scene, other agencies with stringent security protocols, such as the Defense Department, have not yet taken the leap.

Sprague said many NASA employees were already bringing their personal mobile devices to work, which created a need for officials to codify proper use.

"There was no previous BYOD policy," Sprague said. "There are telework agreements and things like that, but nothing that really touched on people bringing in their devices. People were just doing it."

Show, don't tell

Open source is no longer the novelty it was just a few years ago in government, but that doesn't mean agencies have shed all their doubts and hesitations. The solution, according to advocates at one FOSE session, is to just do it.

An Interior Department employee asked the panelists, "What do you do when your agency is just hell bent on using [commercial off-the-shelf] software?" He said his superiors seem hostile to the very idea of open-source solutions, even after he and his team produced a cost/benefit analysis comparing in-house development to COTS integration.

"Forget the cost/benefit analysis," said panelist Erie Meyer, an aide to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. "The only way to move these conversations forward is to build what you're talking about."

Matthew Burton, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau former deputy CIO, agreed. "Mock something up," he said. "Pull up PowerPoint, and draw some boxes." People don't understand, really understand, a project until they see it. "And they don't need to see something fully functional," he added.

The panelists agreed that there are still fear, uncertainty and doubt about open-source solutions, but "sometimes these people don't disagree with you," Meyer said. "They literally have no idea what you're talking about."

NIST framework paying dividends

The White House is seeing payoff in the form of more secure supply chains because some financial-sector firms are implementing President Barack Obama's 2013 cybersecurity executive order, a top aide said.

"One of the areas that we've seen companies already really start to use the [cybersecurity] framework is in vendor management," said Ari Schwartz, a cybersecurity adviser on the National Security Council. The companies have mostly been in the financial sector, he added.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released an initial framework for implementing the executive order in February. The document is a voluntary guideline by which operators of critical infrastructure, for example, can assess their cybersecurity posture and set goals for improving it.

"The key to the cybersecurity framework is it allows a baseline across different sectors," Schwartz said. "So if you can start to audit different sectors using the same framework, you can come up with a kind of baseline that works and that gives information to the CIO and gives information to boards."

He said a new marketplace was sprouting up for products that incorporate cybersecurity standards delineated by the NIST framework.

"I wouldn't say that we have seen it widespread yet, but we have heard…anecdotally that some sectors have really taken this on as an important goal," Schwartz said in reply to a question from FCW.

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM0 comments

Atlanta and Code for America website improves court operations

Atlanta’s new ATLCourt website allows residents to look up their court cases, get text reminders and find answers to frequently asked questions about municipal court operations. The website is one of several applications being developed as part of the yearlong Code for America Fellowship.

The court website is hosted on GitHub and uses Jekyll, which provides an easy and secure site for city employees to update and create content.  Users can also sign up for text notifications on the website using Text App. The texting system,  one of the first for a court system in the United States, allows users to text their citation number and to receive details about their case.

For the last three months, the Atlanta Code for America Fellows have worked with government officials and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery and FOR Atlanta teams to develop the website.

“Atlanta’s strategy for delivering services and increasing efficiency brings together innovation and performance management,” said Atlanta’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kristin Wilson. “Through this important Code for America project, we hope to have laid the groundwork that allows for greater civic participation and more effective service delivery.”

Earlier this year, Atlanta was selected as one of eight cities to become a 2014 Code for America city. Founded in 2009, Code for America is a national nonprofit that partners with local governments and citizens to foster civic innovation. 

Posted on May 09, 2014 at 9:21 AM0 comments

State CIOs press federal leaders on cross-jurisdiction hot buttons

State technology officers participated in a “fly-in” this week, coming to Washington, D.C., to press federal IT officials on the need for further collaboration with states in the area of cybersecurity, broadband and public safety information sharing.

At the top of the agenda for the members of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers was a meeting with Homeland Security Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Roberta Stempfley and National Institute for Standards and Technology Acting Chief of the Computer Security Division Matthew Scholl, who provided an overview on efforts to adopt a national cybersecurity framework.

NASCIO President Craig Orgeron, who is also Mississippi’s CIO, said the agencies have been good partners in setting up the parameters of the framework.

“Now comes the hard work,” he said, “ensuring it is used to promote enterprise approaches to cybersecurity in the states rather than as a checklist for compliance.”

The group also met with Department of Justice Associate Deputy Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance, J. Patrick McCreary, who announced a partnership between NASCIO and the DOJ on cybersecurity disruption response planning and cyber threat analytics.

State CIOs kicked off the day by meeting with Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The meeting focused on providing broadband to schools and libraries and enacting reforms to the E-rate program that helps provide resources for high speed broadband.

State CIOs also met with FirstNet board member Teri Takai and Deputy General Manager for FirstNet TJ Kennedy to discuss next steps between states and the FirstNet authority in building a nationwide public safety broadband network.

Creating an interoperable public safety communications network remains an unfulfilled recommendation of the 9/11 commission, noted NASCIO, over a decade after the commission pointed out the gap in homeland security.

Posted on May 08, 2014 at 9:21 AM0 comments

DISA approves AirWatch MDM for Defense networks

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s Field Security Operations (FSO) unit has approved AirWatch’s  Mobile Device Management Software 6.5 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) Version 1 for immediate use.

The STIG provides security policy and configuration requirements for the use of the AirWatch MDM software suite for administrative management of the Samsung Knox and iOS 7.X mobile operating systems in DOD.

The AirWatch MDM Software is installed entirely on DOD host network servers or virtual machines running Windows Server 2008 R2 or 2012 operating systems, and works in conjunction with several services on these servers in order to manage a mobile device fleet, DISA wrote in the STIG overview.

The certification validates that AirWatch meets the security restrictions required for use on Defense networks. STIG-approval demonstrates that AirWatch provides government customers with solutions that follow mobile code risk categories and usage guides, the company said in its announcement.

“STIG approval from the DISA FSO enables government organizations running on DOD networks to leverage our comprehensive platform with military-grade security for their next generation of mobile initiatives,” said John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager, AirWatch by VMware. “With the approval of our STIG, DOD agencies have clear documentation to implement a broader selection of mobile devices and management software.”

According to Mark Williams, AirWatch director of government solutions, DISA released its Security Requirements Guide for MDM around the time agencies began to look at mobile device options outside of BlackBerry. The AirWatch STIG supports government offices that want to move to multi-OS mobility strategies, he wrote in a blog post.

The certification process stipulated that AirWatch MDM software met all 294 NIST SP 800-53 requirements, as listed in the DISA MDM Security Requirements Guide. A DISA FSO team also conducted a thorough, third-party validation and editing process prior to awarding AirWatch STIG-approval.

Posted on May 05, 2014 at 9:21 AM1 comments