Inside the Reporter's Notebook: Web analytics tool, reaction to FAS commissioner and FedRAMP

Friday - 1/25/2013, 5:57pm EST

Welcome to my new feature, "Inside the Reporter's Notebook," where every two weeks I'll dispatch news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary — it's news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at

There was a lot of discussion about mobile computing and the Digital Government Strategy this week, but what was most interesting was the juicy tidbit teased by different people in the know at two different events.

First, Gwynne Kostin, the General Services Administration's director of the Digital Services Innovation Center, offered a nugget about a new governmentwide Web analytics tool at the AFCEA Bethesda breakfast.

"For the first time ever as director of the program it's unprecedented, we will have an overall view of the traffic of all websites, the performance traffic. We will be able to find out what's hitting, and what's important, where the public is going from one website to another website," she said. "There is a huge amount of data."

Then the next day at the Federal Mobile Computing conference, Lisa Schlosser, the federal deputy chief information officer, offered a few more details.

"We just released a digital analytics program where there is a governmentwide capability to actually analyze how well our Web services are doing and how well our mobile services are doing in terms of customer effectiveness for the American citizen," she said.

Neither, however, would offer any more details on the program, saying it's not quite ready to be made fully public.

But sources say they are using the Google analytics tool. The goal is to let agencies see common searches and where traffic is coming from, which will be a huge help as they ensure websites meet the demand during hurricanes or floods or any other emergency situations.

Sources also say there are only a handful of agencies using it now, which means the Office of Management and Budget wants more capacity before going public.

Speaking of capacity, the FedRAMP cloud cyber program still has only one vendor, but 78 are in the queue to be approved.

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel offered this update as one of the few news nuggets from his speech at the Cloud Computing and Big Data workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Just wondering, why did VanRoekel drive 45 minutes to NIST to speak for 15 minutes and take no questions from the audience at an event focusing on one of his office's major priorities?

FedRAMP announced in December Autonomic Resources became the first cloud provider to receive approval from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) to offer infrastructure-as-a-service that meets the cyber federal cyber standards.

GSA hoped as many as three vendors would have qualified by the end of 2012, but both the FedRAMP process and commitment from companies turned out to be barriers.

One source close to the process said they were amazed when GSA asked vendors to provide more information about a specific and seemingly straightforward area and that it took the companies two or three weeks to respond.

Unlike what GSA saw with Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 approvals where vendors worried about their competition receiving approval first, companies don't seem to have much anxiety about not being the first out of the gate to offer cloud services.

Reaction to GSA's decision to bring in Tom Sharpe as the new Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner was definitely mixed around the federal community.

Sharpe is an outsider to GSA, but not to the government. FAS also is not your usual procurement shop, it's more about customer service than getting acquisitions awarded.

Roger Waldron president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, told Federal News Radio's Francis Rose that Sharpe has an opportunity to change both FAS's offerings and processes.

Waldron said among Sharpe's top priorities is putting in a central management structure for the schedules program.

Sources tell me GSA is considering consolidating all current 30-plus schedules into eight mega-schedules around areas such as professional services or technical services, which would incorporate all the piece parts agencies need to meet their mission. Sort of like what GSA is considering with its next multiple award contract, OASIS.