By GCN Staff

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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 by FCW Staff on May 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM


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