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VA uses automation to cut claims waiting time in half

The Department of Veterans Affairs says a new automated system for processing benefit claims has cut the time vets have to wait for education benefits in half. VA faced a big challenge when it was charged with implementing the new GI Bill for veterans who served after September 11, 2001. The new bill was much more complex than the original Montgomery G.I. Bill, and VA says it had no way to get its older IT systems to process the claims in an efficient way, so they resorted to doing much of the work on paper. So they partnered with the Navy to build a new system from the ground up. VA says they're building the system in increments, trying to gradually bring more of the system online every few months. When they started, they were processing 2,000 claims a day. Now, they're managing 10,000.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Thursday - 03/03/2011, 10:23am EST

USDA maps rural America

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has rolled out another online mapping tool - this one focusing on rural and small-town America. The website looks, and functions a lot like the Food Environment Atlas that USDA launched a year ago. But this version aims to bring together data on several facets of the nation's rural communities, so policymakers can make smarter decisions about where to direct federal resources. The department uses county-level data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic analysis as well as its own data. The Census numbers are drawn from the first round of numbers coming from the American Community Survey. Users can click on a county and see information on demographics, jobs, agricultural data and other economic indicators. In addition to seeing that data, users can download it in spreadsheet form and use it in on other applications.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Thursday - 03/03/2011, 10:23am EST

Defense's tuition policies challenged

"We need to make sure we are getting the best bang for our bucks across all aspects of the federal government," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.

Tags: Federal Drive , DoD Report , Defense , for-profit colleges , tuition ,

Thursday - 03/03/2011, 09:40am EST
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HHS uses states as IT pilots for health insurance exchanges

The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $140 million in grants to states across the country to help them develop IT systems that will run the new health insurance exchanges. The state-based exchanges, created as part of the healthcare reform act, are designed to be one-stop shops for individuals and small businesses to compare and buy health insurance online. The exchanges don't kick in until 2014, but HHS says it wants to give seven states a head start on developing reusable, transferrable IT systems so they can be used as models, and HHS can show other states the best ways to create their own IT infrastructure to support the exchanges. The grants will go to Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and a consortium of New England states.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Wednesday - 03/02/2011, 03:41pm EST

USDA uses web tool to track changes in community food choice

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rolling out a new phase of its food environment atlas. The Web tool was originally designed a year ago to let users click on any county in the country, and get data on the local food choices and diet quality that influence an individual community's health. IT was developed as part of the first lady's Let's Move campaign. The latest rollout almost doubles the number of data points for each county in the atlas. It now considers 168 different indicators. USDA says the updates they've just made to the web tool will also let the agency and the site's users track changes in food choice over time. It includes data on everything from the concentration of farmers markets vs. convenience stores in a given community, to the average distance to the nearest grocery store. The site has already logged 100,000 visitors.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Wednesday - 03/02/2011, 03:40pm EST

R&D Dashboard tracks federal research grants, outcomes

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is launching a beta version of a new R&D Dashboard. The idea is to let anyone who accesses the new site take a look at where federal research and development money is going, how it's being used, and what the outcomes of research projects are. It uses publicly-available data to show users federal research dollars at the state level, the Congressional district level, even down to the specific research institutions getting the grants. The R&D Dashboard is being developed by a team led by the National Science Foundation, and for now it only includes data from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health over the last decade. But OSTP plans to expand the sites to include other types of research grants in the future.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Wednesday - 03/02/2011, 03:37pm EST

In budget talks, DoD ‘not the holdup'

The chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services committee are determined to find a near-term way to pass a Defense Department budget, and not merely a continuing resolution, for fiscal year 2011, the panel's top Democrat said Tuesday.

Tags: DoD , management , DoD budget , continuing resolution , budget , Mike McCord , Adam Smith , Buck McKeon , Robert Gates ,

Wednesday - 03/02/2011, 12:12pm EST
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DHS to gain real-time access to DoD biometrics

The Department of Homeland Security already has real-time access to biometric data maintained in the FBI's huge database of criminal records. Within the next year, it'll be able to share similar data with the Defense Department.

Tags: DoD , technology , DHS , biometrics , U.S. Visit , Secure Communities Program , CBP , TSA , FBI , Next, LLC , AFCEA , Stephanie Rowe , Bob Mocny , Thomas Killion , Dan Roberts ,

Tuesday - 03/01/2011, 07:18am EST
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DoD wants cyber partnership, not to spy

Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the military's new Cyber Command and the director of the NSA, said DoD can help protect private networks from cyber attack - especially critical infrastructure - without infringing on civil liberties. He said civilian agencies and private network operators could leverage NSA's capabilities without having the spy agency be in charge of security.

Tags: DoD , cybersecurity , technology , Keith Alexander , U.S. Cyber Command , NSA , DHS , Do William Lynn , privacy , civil liberties , Information Technology Exchange Program , industry , information sharing ,

Monday - 02/28/2011, 07:00am EST
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Army forging ahead on smartphone tests

The service says it's getting closer to determining the path forward for issuing smartphones to soldiers in the field. It's something the service says could eventually provide warfighters with an all-in-one platform for training, battlefield communications and more.

Tags: DoD , technology , Army , smartphones , Michael Vane , mobile technology , iPhone , Android ,

Friday - 02/25/2011, 07:54am EST
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