Blog Postings

May 31,2013


The House Assembly today passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609). The act is now set to be heard in the Senate later this summer. If AB 609 becomes law, it will unlock access to the results of more than $200 million in annual, state-funded scientific research.

Big Hat Tip to Gary at InfoDocket where you can see more links.

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Aims to modernize enterprise application development and deployment.
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With the imminent arrival of Haswell and Windows 8.1, waiting makes sense.
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This year, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory made it clear that the state’s reliance on quick fixes is over and that his goal is to begin focusing on long-term reparations to ensure the state’s ability to provide for its citizens.

The below graph provides a visual representation of North Carolina’s budget from FY 2010 through FY 2015.


Governor McCrory’s major focus areas include increasing the State Repair and Renovation Fund to launch a 25-year plan to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure. He is also looking to increase the Information Technology Systems Reserve in an effort to fund high-priority IT projects taking place throughout government agencies. These are quite ambitious projects given the state is only increasing the overall budget by 3.6 percent in the first year, and while the governor has indeed asked for a significant increase in the IT Systems Reserve, it comes at the cost of the Office of Information Technology. While the IT Initiative Reserve is set to increase by nearly $35 million between FY 2013 and FY 2014, the Office of Information Technology is losing more than $39 million. Therefore, technology dollars are more so reshuffling existing resources, and there will actually be less money available in the next few years for IT projects.

Overall, the structure of the state’s departments has remained unchanged over the past few years. The one significant exception is the dissolution of the states’ Departments of Correction and Crime Control and Public Safety, and the advent of the new Department of Public Safety. Funding for the new department remained consistent with the funding levels of its predecessors, and no major initiatives, IT or otherwise, are planned for the next two years.

Unfortunately, not all budget changes involved a simple reshuffling; some departments lost significant amounts of money. The biggest loser was the state’s Department of Commerce, which lost more than $3 billion, followed by the Department of Transportation’s $1.5 billion loss, though it is likely that at least some of that loss was transferred to the Repair and Renovation Fund. 

Analyst’s Take

The small increase in the state’s overall budget means that most departments will maintain the status quo for the next two years. Few costly initiatives are planned, and as the governor stated, the next few years will be used to set the stage for long-term growth.

While the overall budget remains fairly steady over the next two years, the IT budget has dropped significantly, which will likely have an impact on spending for the next few years at least, especially for those interested in the community development, general government and natural resources verticals. As expected, health care continues to be a growth area as well as economic development and regulation, which will likely be heavily focused on regulation and compliance.

Vendors interested in finding out more about North Carolina should check out Deltek’s state profile application.

Source: B2G Blog
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The tech industry slightly outpaced the private sector overall in job creation during 2012, depending on location.
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Rose Garden

10:26 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  I know it’s a little warm.  (Laughter.) 
One of my favorite things about this job is that I get to spend some time with remarkable young people from all across the country.  It inspires me.  It makes me feel good.  Those of you who have had to put on suits and ties and show up at the White House first thing on a Friday morning may not feel the same way I do -- (laughter) -- but I appreciate all of you being here.  You cleaned up very well. 
And these students and graduates are here to talk about something that matters to millions of young people and their families, and that’s the cost of a college education.  Because this isn’t just critical for their futures, but it’s also critical for America’s future.
Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from a financial crisis and an incredibly punishing recession -- the worst since the Great Depression -- and it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes, the sense of security that they’d spent their lives building up. 
The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.  500,000 of those jobs are in manufacturing.  We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less energy, and we’re importing less from other countries.  The housing market is coming back.  The stock market has rebounded.  Our deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years.  People’s retirement savings are growing again.  The rise of health care costs are slowing.  The American auto industry is back.
So we’re seeing progress, and the economy is starting to pick up steam.  The gears are starting to turn again, and we’re getting some traction.  But the thing is, the way we measure our progress as a country is not just where the stock market is; it’s not just to how well the folks at the top are doing; it’s not just about the aggregate economic numbers.  It’s about how much progress ordinary families are making.  Are we creating ladders of opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard?  Are we creating not only a growing economy, but also the engine that is critical to long-lasting, sustained economic growth -- and that is a rising, thriving middle class.  That’s our focus.  That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about every single day.  That’s our North Star.
And that means there are three questions we have to ask ourselves as a nation.  Number one:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs in this competitive 21st century economy?  Number two:  How do we make sure that our workers earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs?  And number three:  How do we make sure those jobs actually pay a decent wage or salary, so that people can save for retirement, send their kids to college?
Those are the questions we’ve got to be asking ourselves every single day.  So we’re here today to talk about that second question.  How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need to do the jobs that companies are hiring for right now, and are going to keep hiring for in the future?  We know that the surest path to the middle class is some form of higher education -- a four-year degree, a community college degree, an advanced degree.  You’re going to need more than just a high school education to succeed in this economy. 
And the young people here today, they get that.  They’re working through college; maybe just graduated.  And earning their degree isn’t just the best investment that they can make for their future -- it’s the best investment that they can make in America’s future. 
But like a lot of young people all across the country, these students have had to take on more and more and more debt to pay for this investment.  Since most of today’s college students were born, tuition and fees at public universities have more than doubled.  And these days, the average student who takes out loans to pay for four years of college graduates owing more than $26,000.  How many people are on track here for $26,000? 
And that doesn’t just hold back our young graduates.  It holds back our entire middle class, because Americans now owe more on our student loans than we do on our credit cards.  And those payments can last for years, even decades, which means that young people are putting off buying their first car, or their first house -- the things that grow our economy and create new jobs.  And I’ve said this before, I know this firsthand -- Michelle and I, we did not finish paying off our student loans until about nine years ago.  And our student loans cost more than our mortgage.  Right when we wanted to start saving for Sasha and Malia’s college education, we were still paying off our own college education.
And we were lucky.  We had more resources than many.  So we cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class out of a college education.  We can’t keep saddling young people with more and more and more debt just as they’re starting out in life. 
Now, the good news is over the past four years, my administration has done a lot to address this.  Working with members of Congress, we’ve expanded student aid.  We’ve reformed the student loan system.  We’ve saved tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that were just going to big banks, and made sure that the money went to helping more young people afford college. 
We made it easier to pay back those loans by passing a law that says you’ll only have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your student -- federal student loans once you graduate.  This is important to emphasize, by the way, because a lot of your peers, a lot of young people don’t know this.  Under existing law that we passed, you never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in paying back your federal student loans, which means if you want to be a teacher, you want to go into a profession that does not pay a lot of money but gives you a lot of satisfaction, you are still capable of doing that and supporting yourself.
We unveiled a new college scorecard that gives parents and students the clear, concise information that you need to shop around for a school with the best value for you.  And I’ve made it clear that those colleges that don’t do enough to keep college costs down should get less taxpayer support.
So we’re doing what we can, but here’s the thing:  If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, federal student loan rates are set to double.  And that means that the average student with those loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s like a $1,000 tax hike.  I assume most of you cannot afford that.  Anybody here can afford that?  No.
Now, if this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is.  We went through this last summer.  Some of you were here.  It wasn't as hot.  (Laughter.)  I don't think we did this event outside.  (Laughter.)  But we went through this.  And eventually, Congress listened to all the parents and young people who said “don’t double my rate.”  And because folks made their voices heard, Congress acted to keep interest rates low.  But they only did it for a year and that year is almost up.
So the test here is simple.  We’ve got to make sure that federal student loan rates don’t double on July 1st.  Now, the House of Representatives has already passed a student loan bill, and I’m glad that they took action.  But unfortunately, their bill does not meet that test.  It fails to lock in low rates for students next year.  That’s not smart.  It eliminates safeguards for lower-income families.  That’s not fair.  It could actually cost a freshman starting school this fall more over the next four years than if we did nothing at all and let the interest rates double on July 1st. 
So the House bill isn't smart and it's not fair.  I'm glad the House is paying attention to it, but they didn't do it in the right way.  So I’m asking young people to get involved and make your voices heard once again.  Last year, you convinced 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low.  You made something bipartisan happen in this town that is -- that's a powerful thing.  You guys were able to get Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that was important. 
So this year, if it looks like your representatives have changed their minds, you're going to have to call them up again or email them again or Tweet them again and ask them what happened, what changed?  You're still taking out these loans.  You're still facing challenges.  
Remind them that we're a people who help one another earn an education, because it benefits all of us.  During the Civil War, Lincoln had the foresight to set up a system of land grant colleges.  At the end of World War II, we set up the GI Bill so that people like my grandfather could come back from a war and get an education.  All these things created the greatest middle class on Earth.
My mom, a single mom, was able to get the support that she needed through loans and grants -- even while she was also working and raising two kids -- to get her degrees.  I'm only here, Michelle is only right over there in the East Wing because we got great educations.  We didn't come from privilege.  And we want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities, because that has been good for the country as a whole. 
It’s up to us now to carry forward that tradition.  Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few.  It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, every young person with dreams and ambition should be able to access.  And now is not the time for us to turn back on young people.  Now is not the time to slash the investments that help us grow.  Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to you and the generation that's coming behind you, and that if we work together to generate more jobs and educate more kids and open up new opportunities for everybody who’s willing to work and willing to push through those doors of opportunity, America can't be stopped.
So I'm putting my faith in you.  Let's work together.  Let's get this done by July 1st.  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 
10:36 A.M. EDT

Categories: All , Technical

Joe Selby, MD, MPH

Talk about “Big Data” is common lately, especially in healthcare. After all, there are few fields where more data are collected and consulted on a daily basis—and where there is such widespread agreement that the information isn’t being used as well as it could be to improve outcomes.Many have tackled this challenge. But given all of the complex issues faced daily by patients and those who care for them, much more remains to be done.

Many of us recognize that, as a nation, our current way of conducting healthcare research isn’t sustainable. Research budgets are tightening, the cost of clinical trials is accelerating, and new data are revealing ever greater nuances to consider in how we categorize and treat patients.

In short, we have more research questions than ever before and fewer resources to put toward finding answers.

Rachael Fleurence, PhD

Rachael Fleurence, PhD

For research to more effectively serve patients, clinicians and others who make health care decisions, we need a new model that brings healthcare systems, clinicians, and patients themselves fully into the process of using data to improve health and healthcare outcomes.

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute advances comparative effectiveness research

Numerous organizations have contributed to laying the foundation for this effort. These include the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But the task is difficult.

Now, we at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute are building on those efforts to launch a major next step – investing $68 million in initial funding to develop a National Patient-Centered Clinical Research NetworkExternal Links Disclaimer.  We see this initiative as providing a much-needed national data infrastructure that will advance patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

We announced our plans on April 23 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with a roundtable featuring representatives from leading healthcare stakeholder groups. The panelists—from the Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s Health Insurance Plans, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, FDA and ONC—discussed the unique value our initiative can provide.

Patient-centered comparative effectiveness research comes with challenges

They also described the challenges we face, including:

  • data standards and systems inter-operability,
  • protecting the security of the data and the privacy of patients.
  • developing the capacity to conduct randomized studies in typical clinical care settings

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute ’s challenge is to take the data from existing, real-world clinical settings, and to actively  involve patients, clinicians, and health care systems in building a national research resource for conducting meaningful comparative effectiveness research that can inform and improve future care.

As Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, noted, “Right now, we are spending trillions on health care, and 99.999 percent of it doesn’t contribute anything to knowledge.”

The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network will encompass a wide group of stakeholders

From the outset, the network we propose will include:

  • patients,
  • researchers,
  • healthcare systems,
  • clinicians, and
  • other stakeholders.

This will make it especially well suited to capitalize on the universe of healthcare information that can be collected, analyzed, and transformed into meaningful discoveries.

New funding announced for research networks

We launched our effort by releasing two new Funding AnnouncementsExternal Links Disclaimer. The funding will go toward creating a series of patient and health systems networks that will eventually link together to become the national network we envision. Required letters of intent are due June 19.

  • We’ll provide up to $56 millionExternal Links Disclaimer to create up to eight clinical data research networks (CDRN), comprised of multiple health systems able to connect and share large amounts of data from de-identified electronic health records (EHR).
  • We will provide up to $12 millionExternal Links Disclaimer to fund the creation of 12-to-18 patient-powered research networks (PPRN), consisting of motivated patients focused on a specific disease or condition and organized to conduct and participate in clinical research.

Once formed, we expect the PPRNs and CDRNs will increasingly work together to establish, test, and refine models for data-driven patient-centered research projects.

Creating a national network presents challenges

We know there are many hurdles to overcome:

  • We must learn how to efficiently obtain reliable and equivalent clinical information from a variety of EHR platforms and healthcare settings, and directly from patients.
  • We will have to collect and store clinical data in ways that allow for aggregation, analyses over multiple sites, and use by external researchers and systems.
  • We also will need to support individual patients in the PPRNs in new approaches to accessing and sharing their personal data. We are particularly interested in the possibilities presented by the Blue Button initiative, which could let patients obtain their clinical data electronically to share it with researchers.
  • We’ll need to pay scrupulous attention to issues of patient privacy and data security.

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is one of the few research organizations with the resources and capacity to facilitate the creation of a national data infrastructure. We take this responsibility seriously; indeed, improving our nation’s capacity to conduct comparative effectiveness research is one of the reasons we were established.

We want to hear from you

We look forward to watching this initiative grow and evolve with the input, support, and involvement of our entire stakeholder community.

We invite your commentsExternal Links Disclaimer on our vision: watch an archived webcast of the April 23 discussionExternal Links Disclaimer and tell us what you think. Also, consider applyingExternal Links Disclaimer for the funding we’re dedicating to creating an enduring, sustainable national research network that will serve the interests of patients for decades to come.


The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. More information is available at Links Disclaimer.

The post Guest Blog: PCORI’s Big Idea for Big Data appeared first on Health IT Buzz.

Categories: All , Technical

With temperatures reaching 90 degrees this week, one thing is clear, summer is here. But instead of heading to the beach with your favorite romance novel or spy thriller, Tom Fox has some suggestions that might just help you do your job better. 

Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that these books will really help you…

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With hundreds of thousands of iPhone applications available in the App Store, it can be a challenge to find the right solution for a given issue.
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With temperatures reaching 90 degrees this week, one thing is clear, summer is here. But instead of heading to the beach with your favorite romance novel or spy thriller, Tom Fox has some suggestions that might just help you do your job better. 

Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that these books will really help you…

Categories: All , Technical

How many of you suffer from at least mild "cyberchondria?" Do you run to the computer to Google your latest ailments? Are you often convinced that the headache you have is the first sign of some terminal illness you've been reading about?

Well, Symcat takes a new approach to Internet-assisted self-diagnosis. It provides not only the symptoms but the probability of getting the disease, using CDC data to rank results by the likelihood of the different conditions. It then allows users to further filter results by typing in information such as their gender, the duration of their symptoms and medical history. No, that headache you've had all week is likely not spinal stenosis or even viral pharyngitis. But if you've had a fall or a blow to the head you might want to consider a concussion.

As Symcat puts it they "use data to help you feel better." Never underestimate the palliative effects of peace of mind.

I had the chance to ask Craig Monsen, MD, co-founder and CEO of Symcat, a few questions about how they got their start with the business and their innovation with open data.

What was the genesis of Symcat? Can you describe the "ah-ha" moment of determining the need for Symcat?

Symcat has evolved a fair bit since its original conception. David, one of the other founders, and I first conceived of it during our time in medical school at Johns Hopkins. We (painfully) memorized commonly-observed associations in medicine: symptoms to diagnoses, diagnoses to tests, diagnoses to medications, medications to side effects. The ubiquity of computers and their comparative advantage in memory-based tasks invited our reflection about how we could ease our own cognitive load as students.

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Categories: Influential

“Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront of American’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue.”

--President Barack Obama, University of Colorado-Boulder, April 24, 2012.

Last year the President worked with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to secure a one-year extension to keep the student loan interest rate from doubling to 6.8 percent.  Absent Congressional action, interest rates on new subsidized student loans will double once again on July 1 of this year.  To keep rates from doubling, the President’s FY 2014 Budget proposed that Congress enact a long-term solution that cuts rates this year on nearly all new loans, ensures that all students have access to affordable repayment options, and does not charge students higher interest rate to pay for deficit reduction.   

The comprehensive solution put forward by the President allows borrowers to benefit from the low interest rates currently available in the marketplace, and guarantees these rates over the life of their loans.  In the future, fixed rates would be determined each year, and the plan would ensure that borrower’s rates are in line with the government’s own cost of borrowing.  Additionally, the President’s plan guarantees that student loans remain affordable by allowing all students – past, present, and future – to cap their payments at 10 percent of income. 

If Congress fails to act, college will be further out of reach for millions of students and families.  In fact, an incoming freshman who borrows $27,000 over the next four years -- a typical debt incurred by today’s college graduates – is projected to pay over $4,000 dollars more over the life of their loans without the President’s proposal.  As the economy continues to recover, and at a time when market interest rates are at historic lows, more than 7 million students who will rely on these loans to finance postsecondary education should not be burdened with additional college debt when they graduate and launch a career or a business, start a family, or buy a house. 

Since the President released his budget, several proposals have been put forward in the House and Senate that address the interest rate issue in both the near-term and long-term.  What is most important is that Congress agrees upon a solution that prevents rates from doubling on July 1, and a number of proposals meet that test.  The Administration has continued to focus on working with Republican and Democrats in Congress on a fix that meets that test and does not charge students higher rates to fund deficit reduction. 

While the Administration welcomed action by the House on interest rates, it unfortunately moves us in the wrong direction.  Under the recently passed House legislation, H.R. 1911, many borrowers could end up paying even more than if Congress does nothing at all.  The same college freshman who could save over $4,000 dollars under the President’s plan would pay over $200 more under the House Republican plan.  The House bill also uses higher student rates to reduce the deficit by $4 billion, raises rates the most on low-income students, creates greater uncertainty for borrowers about the total cost of their loans, and fails to include additional help for students struggling to repay their loans.  

Students and their families need certainty about college costs, not fluctuating rates, as they make critical decisions about borrowing for college.  In addition to the Administration’s work on student loan interest rates, we have worked hard to provide greater transparency about college costs through efforts like the College Scorecard, so students and families can have better information and more certainty as they plan for college.


Change in Interest Paid on Subsidized Stafford Loans
For a Typical Student Borrowing the Average Amount, by State


2013-14 Total Subsidized Stafford Loan Amount

Borrower Count

Average Borrowed

Average Savings Under the President’s PlanM




































District of Columbia










Foreign Campus




































































































North Carolina





North Dakota










New Hampshire





New Jersey





New Mexico










New York

























Puerto Rico





Rhode Island





South Carolina





South Dakota

























Virgin Islands




















West Virginia










Total (Unduplicated Count)





Source: U.S. Department of Education analysis.  Assumes a student who borrows the state average amount of subsidized loans in the 2013-14 academic year and repays the loans over the expected period of 12 years.

The President’s Plan to Keep Student Loans Affordable

Lower Interest Rates Now: Under the President’s plan, nearly 11 million borrowers will see their interest rates decrease on new loans after July 1, 2013, compared to current law. Over 7 million Subsidized Stafford loan borrowers will see their rates on new loans drop below the current reduced rate of 3.4 percent to a projected 2.9 percent.  Over 8.5 million Unsubsidized Stafford borrowers will see their rates drop on new loans from 6.8 percent to 4.9 percent.  And over 1 million GradPLUS and Parent PLUS borrowers will see their rates on new loans drop from 7.9 percent to 5.9 percent—the first reduction in such rates since rates increased in 2006. 

More Affordable Repayment Options: Additionally, the President is proposing extending his Pay As You Earn (PAYE) loan repayment plan to all student borrowers to provide an insurance policy against unmanageable federal student loan debt. Previously, the plan was available only to new borrowers.  Under the President’s expanded PAYE plan, all student borrowers are assured that their federal student loan payments will never exceed 10 percent of their discretionary income. 

A Fiscally Responsible Solution:  The President’s plan is cost-neutral and will keep the federal student loan programs on secure footing for the future.  It also ensures we have the necessary resources available to keep investing in other critical higher education programs such as the Pell grant program and the Perkins loan program, as well as to make targeted investments in postsecondary education that facilitate college completion, assure continued state support, pave the way for high-quality, cost-effective educational opportunities.  These efforts combined will keep college affordable for students and families.

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Dayton, Ohio, utilizes tracking technology on recycling bins and monetary incentives to encourage more citizens to recycle.

In September 2010, Dayton, Ohio, launched an incentive-based recycling program meant to encourage residents to become more proactive about recycling. The program consists of two components: (1) a technology component that involves asset-tracking technology on recycling bins and (2) a monetary…

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Dayton, Ohio, utilizes tracking technology on recycling bins and monetary incentives to encourage more citizens to recycle.

In September 2010, Dayton, Ohio, launched an incentive-based recycling program meant to encourage residents to become more proactive about recycling. The program consists of two components: (1) a technology component that involves asset-tracking technology on recycling bins and (2) a monetary…

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By Ryan Kamauff Here are the top cyber news and stories of the day. GSA unveils governmentwide MDM program - “The General Services Administration launched May 30 the new governmentwide Mobile Device Management Program that aims to streamline the procurement process for agencies to access mobile solutions.” This will provide a unified platform and oversight into MDM programs that [...]

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Gadi Ben-Yehuda

The future is not what you think it is.

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Gadi Ben-Yehuda

The future is not what you think it is.

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Near-Earth asteroid passes by the Earth system on May 31st.
Categories: Influential
Take a little time this summer to learn to create podcast files.
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GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts. 

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GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!



Source: B2G Blog
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Every year Mary Meeker does the tech and business community a great service by researching, analyzing and reporting on the State of the Internet. Her latest presentation is embedded below in slideshare format and is also available at this link.…

Categories: All , Technical


Every year Mary Meeker does the tech and business community a great service by researching, analyzing and reporting on the State of the Internet. Her latest presentation is embedded below in slideshare format and is also available at this link.…

Categories: All , Technical

At Forrester's North America CIO Forum two weeks ago, Frank Gillett, Chris Mines, and I presented a point--counterpoint debate on "The CIO's World in 2020". We debated and analyzed four key dynamics regarding IT and the CIO's role in the future, and asked the 325 attendees to vote on the outcome they think is most likely to occur. The audience members' votes were extremely telling:

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Categories: Influential

The Australian government just published the National Cloud Computing Strategy, which goes beyond the usual domain of how government is going to use the cloud (something that several other jurisdictions, including Australia, have done over the last couple of years).

This strategy comes as a response to what the Australian Prime Minister promised back in October 2012 and builds on the roll-out of the National Broadband Network that will provide universal access to very fast Internet services across the nation. The national cloud strategy suggests a path to leverage this great resource.

The strategy looks at three distinct and important areas:

  1. the use of cloud computing in government, building on a previous paper on strategic directions
  2. the use of cloud computing by small businesses, not-for-profit and consumers
  3. the support of the cloud services sector

As far as the first pillar is concerned, the strategy maintains the down-to-Earth, no-nonsense approach that I have learned to like in Australia. Rather than pushing for an aggressive “cloud-first” approach, like the US did a few years ago and the UK stated more recently,

Government agencies will be required to consider cloud services (including public cloud services) for new ICT procurements. Government agencies will choose cloud services, where the service represents the best value for money and adequate management of risk, compared to other available options

For those who are familiar with the open-source “religious” battles of the last decade, this is far closer to what most of those ended up producing: strategies that would recommend agencies to consider the option, but not forcing them to adopt it or to justify why it is not being adopted. I actually drew a parallel between the two in an old blog post, which I believe is still very current. However the strategy is more decisive when it comes to public facing web sites as well as test and development environments, which are expected to be moved to the public cloud as soon as practical.

There is an emphasis on educating IT leaders in agencies about understanding benefits and risks as well as about how to procure and manage cloud services. Trials and experience sharing are encouraged, and lessons learned from the earlier Data Center as a Service (DCaaS) experience will be used to evolve this mechanism.

What is slightly less convincing is the reference to the feasibility of a community government cloud: exploring the feasibility is fine, but it should be rather clear from trends in other countries, that the most crucial aspect is to buy cloud services rather than build services (or have them built). In this respect the other potential weakness is not to push earlier for other Service Multi Use Lists beyond the DCaaS or other lighter-weight service and vendor catalogs similar to what the UK is doing with its G-Cloud Cloudstore (and that probably gives them enough strong a case for a more aggressive approach).

Another point that would require some additional detail as AGIMO reviews the strategic directions paper by mid 2013, is cloud service certification. The strategy document says

AGIMO is developing a certification framework. This framework will provide agencies
with a user friendly way of determining whether the services offered by a cloud vendor meet the
legal and operational requirements of government. The certification framework being considered by AGIMO will be a light touch framework that builds on, rather than duplicates, the existing framework of relevant technical standards. The framework will differentiate between different kinds of cloud service, and allow agencies to assess whether different platform, software or infrastructure cloud service offerings meet their needs.

However there is no clear deadline about when this framework would be issued, nor whether this would meet all certification requirements, or agencies should still perform their own certification.

As far as the second pillar, concerning the use outside government, proposed actions are quite sensible. They include addressing influencing bodies to help reach out to smaller enterprises, promoting a Cloud Consumer Protocol that would give sufficient confidence about consumer’s rights, and helping smaller businesses access technology expertise. Of course the uptake of cloud computing will also be influenced by the attitude taken by larger enterprises and how those will reverberate across their supply chain. It is wise for the strategy not to be prescriptive or condescending when it comes to larger enterprises, but I expect that working with industry associations and other intermediaries should explore the role of value chains.

Finally, as far as supporting the cloud supply side, the strategy pulls together all the necessary levers: education, research and trade, to provide the necessary skills, to address outstanding technical issues and seize opportunities, as well as to promote Australia as a “trusted hub for data storage and processing”.

The broad scope of the strategy requires the involvement and collaboration of several ministries, from Finance to Trade, from Broadband and Digital Economy to Industry and Innovation, from Education to Research.

Some of the objectives and deadlines may be vulnerable to the upcoming elections in September, but the overall structure is well-founded and it is difficult to find any major weakness.

Some commentator may wish to see the government take a more aggressive stance but, given the context and the early stage of “cloud-first strategies elsewhere, I believe the Australian government has taken a smart direction.

Categories: All , Influential , Technical

Yesterday I attended a meeting where different European jurisdictions were describing their experiences and plans about government interoperability frameworks, to address the thorny problem of supporting meaningful and timely data exchange as well as coordination and synchronization of business processes across different agencies within the same or different tiers. There were several mentions of enterprise bus services, service oriented architecture, open standards, and the likes.

What struck me were the references to shared services and reuse that all speakers made. These came in two flavors: reusable components to support interoperability and shared services that would actually replace the need for interoperability.

The former category includes data transformation functionalities as well as identity and access management services. The latter would include application services, such as financials, accounting, payroll, base registries, that could be shared to basically reduce the size and complexity of the interoperability problem. It was interesting to hear that two jurisdictions that have been quite successful with their interoperability efforts also enjoy centralized base registries (holding people’s names and birth dates, lists of registered companies, as well as land and other real estate location).

It appears that interoperability is more important where there is limited ability to share and centralize. Establishing an interoperability framework is a way to overcome the insurmountable obstacles of rearranging data and applications in ways that make services truly citizen-centric.

On the other hand, implementing a framework and enforcing its use is not an easy undertaking either. It does require strong governance and ability to drive agency behaviors in the same direction. But, then, how much more difficult would it be to take an extra step and go for sharing or even centralization? Is interoperability just a temporary fix for a more sustainable solution based on rearranging competencies and responsibilities in order to manage information in a far more citizen-centric way?

Categories: All , Influential , Technical
Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at a stage that it can be authorized for use by the public for general driving, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation recommendation to state governments.

May 30,2013


The city of Atlanta has embraced technology and the data created from creative apps developed by citizens in a big way, as reported in an article at Creative Loafing Atlanta. Some examples of…

Categories: All , Technical

The city of Atlanta has embraced technology and the data created from creative apps developed by citizens in a big way, as reported in an article at Creative Loafing Atlanta. Some examples of…

Categories: All , Technical
New IT requirements resulting in a Defense Business System costing over $1 million must be submitted to the Department of Defense Investment Review Boards in the form of a problem statement (PS). The templates provided here comply with Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 11-009, Acquisition Policy for Defense Business Systems, and are based on the DON's Standard BCA DON's Standard BCA Template. The "PS Template" applies to a new initiative that is not yet a program. The "PS and General Program Requirements Template" is appropriate for modernizations to existing programs.