This week two federal agencies announced CIO appointments, while the CIO of the Social Security Administration shares his advice on the biggest issue facing government IT leaders. Meanwhile, the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure is once again under the microscope. Read about these topics and more in this week’s federal news roundup.
Securing National Critical Infrastructure Against Cyber Threats
Collaboration seems to be the name of the game when it comes to bolstering defenses against omnipresent cyber threats, especially when it comes to protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure. In a report by the Homeland Security Advisory Subcommittee (HSAC), which was approved last week, 3 critical infrastructure areas – financial services, communications systems, and electrical sectors – were the focus of attention. Because the three areas are logically connected an attack that starts in one area would quickly affect the other two sectors, leading to large-scale impacts.
Paul Stockton, Vice Chair of the HSAC Subcommittee, identified that while each sector is making positive strides in cyber defense and incident response, they do so in a silo and without collaborating across sectors. This inability to communicate and collaborate has the potential to amplify the effects of an attack, delay mitigation, and have negative consequences for financial markets, businesses, and citizens. Interested in learning more about best practices for incident response? Here are three simple actions to protect critical infrastructure you can put into action now.
Social Security Administration Showcases its IT Modernization Program
Over the last 3 months, Rob Klopp, CIO of the Social Security Administration has been providing a detailed look into how he, and his team, are addressing the challenge of modernizing the agency’s IT infrastructure. From outlining the goals of the modernization project in part 1 of the series, to discussing the challenges of upgrading software architecture in part 5, Klopp offers some useful insight into one of the top priorities on every CIO’s agenda.
One of the best points Klopp makes is that IT modernization is not just about moving from COBOL to JAVA because that trades “a 40 year old programming language for a 20 year old programming language.” Instead the goal of IT modernization is to evolve away from a monolithic architecture “to a modern distributed software architecture that can take full advantage of a cluster of servers and take full advantage of the very large cluster that is a cloud. It is about giving up the quest for a perfectly compute-efficient application to quest for a more fault-tolerant, scalable, secure inexpensive application.”
What do you need to build a modern IT architecture? You can find resources here.
New CIOs on the Job at Education and Census
This week the Department of Education and the Census Bureau both welcomed new chief information officers to their ranks. At the Census Bureau, Kevin Smith, former CIO at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, fills a position that has been vacant for more than a year since Brian McGrath left for the Department of Justice. As well as driving IT modernization efforts, similar to the changes he instituted at the U.S. PTO, Smith will be responsible for the “preparation for the 2020 decennial census — which officials hope will, for the first time, make extensive use of mobile devices and online apps to replace paper-based records.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has tapped Jason Gray to be its new CIO. Gray, who is moving from the Department of Transportation to take this role, fills a position that has been open for several months following the retirement of Danny Harris, a 30 year veteran of the agency. Gray brings with him a wealth of experience in aligning agency IT goals and programs with FITARA requirements and helping the agency’s constituents drive their own IT modernization efforts.