ELC: News and Notes

Tuesday - 10/25/2011, 5:57am EDT

News and updates on federal IT initiatives from the 2011 Executive Leadership Conference.

'Fast 50' to give GSA more complete green building picture

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-The General Services Administration is connecting 50 federal buildings to measure their energy usage and gather data to figure out how best to find savings.

Martha Johnson, GSA's administrator, said the "Fast 50" project is one of several ways the agency is leading the effort to green the government.

"Federal buildings are 22 percent more efficient than the average private-sector building," Johnson said during her keynote speech at the 21st annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by ACT and IAC. "We are more intensely gathering micro data about federal buildings to see how they are performing and what we can do to improve the efficiency of their energy use."

Johnson said GSA could save $1 per square foot in energy usage with this approach.

Along with smart buildings, GSA bought 116 electric cars and installed charging stations at government agencies in an effort to green the federal fleet.

GSA also is focusing more on electronic waste, Johnson added.

"The government sheds 10,000 computers a day, and that's just desktops computers," she said. "This is a naughty, wicked problem and we need to better understand it."

Innovation.gov is back?

Dave McClure, GSA's associate administrator in the Office of Citizen Service and Innovative Technologies, once again is pushing the idea of an innovation platform for agencies to share ideas and best practices.

McClure said he's talked to Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel about the idea as well as the innovation council.

McClure said there is a lot going on around innovation between open government, the implementation of the Government Performance and Results (GPRA) Modernization Act and cloud computing that agencies need a place to connect.

He pushed for a similar idea in May, but it got little traction.

The Obama Administration has encouraged agencies to innovate. It launched Challenge.gov to promote the use of challenges to solve problems and several agencies, including the Health and Human Services Department, NASA and the Food and Drug Administration held challenges.

In addition, McClure said more than 1,000 apps have been built off of information from Data.gov.

OPM to develop competencies for COOs

Under the GPRA Modernization Act, Congress instructed the Office of Personnel Management to create competency models for agency performance improvement officers (PIOs) and chief operating officers.

Patsy Stevens, the manager of OPM's Systems Innovation Group, said her office is just getting started defining the requirements.

"We are thinking about what PIOs need to do," she said. "We are working through the CXOs, CIOs, CFOs, chief human capital officers to figure out what skills PIOs need to have."

One area OPM is considering is how to link the competencies to performance management goals, Stevens said.

DHS resuscitating HSIN

The Homeland Security Department failed at developing the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) the first time because no one wanted to admit failure.

But DHS is not making the same mistake twice.

Donna Roy, DHS executive director in the Information Sharing Environment Applied Technology office, said DHS now is breaking down HSIN into 61 major capabilities and working on them in small chunks.

Roy said the department is using an agile software development approach. After every 60 days, users get to review capabilities.

"We have users talk about what works and what doesn't," she said. "We fail fast and we recover fast."

The next big challenge is how to ensure the 40,000 users have the opportunity to give input on the most important capabilities of HSIN.

Roy said she wants to use crowdsourcing, but hasn't figured out how best to bring the disparate communities together.

"We want to validate our requirements in a limited community," she said.

HSPD-12 going mobile?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to evolve the standards for secure identity cards under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 to make it easier employees to use them with mobile devices.

Suzanne Lightman, NIST senior advisor for information security, said the second revision of Federal Information Processing Standard 201 will detail how personal identity verification (PIV) cards for mobile devices will look.

NIST developed a common standard for PIV cards for the government, but mobile devices require different attributes.

Lightman said the current PIV card is too big for mobile device internal card readers.

She said FIPS 201-2 could be completed in 2012.

Along with the PIV standard, NIST is close to finalizing the first revision of Special Publication 800-63, which details how agencies should implement electronic authentication. The draft revision has been through at least three comment periods and should be released by the end of 2011, Lightman said.