- FBI Uses Agile (Information Week) — The FBI awarded the original contract for the case management system to Lockheed Martin in 2006, but an impatient Fulgham, who was hired in 2008 to get the project on track, decided to bring it in house in September 2010. Since then, the agency has been using agile development to push the frequently delayed project across the finish line. The FBI’s agile team creates a software build every two weeks, and the pre-launch system is now running Build 33. The agency is working on Build 36, comprised mainly of features that weren’t part of the original RFP. Fulgham says the software is essentially done.
- Lucky Meat (Matt Webb) — the man is a mad genius. If you believe “mad” and “genius” are opposite ends of a single dimension, then I will let you choose where to place this post on that continuum. Then when you choose your tea (or coffee), the liquid is shot as if through the barrel of a gun BANG directly at your face. We use facial recognition computer chips or something for this. It blasts, and splashes, as hard and fierce as possible. And then the tea (or coffee) is runs down the inside slope of the “V” and is channeled in and falls eventually into a cup at the bottom apex where it finally drips in. Then you have your drink. (But you don’t need it, because you’re already awake.)
- Quietly Awesome — how are your hiring processes biased towards extroverts? See also I don’t hire unlucky people.
- How We Will Read (Clive Thompson) — Clive is my hero. I feel like we see all these articles that say, “This is what the e-book is,” and my response is always, “We have no idea what the e-book is like!” All these design things have yet to be solved and even thought about, and we have history of being really really good at figuring this out. If you think about the origins of the codex — first we started reading on scrolls. Scrolls just pile up, though. You can’t really organize them. Codexes made it easier to line them up on a shelf. But it also meant there were pages. It didn’t occur to them for some time to have page numbers, because the whole idea was that you only read a small number of books and you were going to read them over and over and over again. Once there were so many books that you were going to read a book once and maybe never again, it actually became important to consult the book and be able to find something inside it. So page numbers and indices became important. We look at books and we’re like, “They’re so well designed,” but it took centuries for them to become well-designed. So you look at e-books, and yeah, they’re alright, but they’re clearly horrible compared to what they’re going to be. I find it amazing that I can get this much pleasure out of them already. AMEN!
"government it" entries
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new innovation center to solve big problems.
There are few areas as emblematic of a nation’s values than how it treats the veterans of its wars. As improved battlefield care keeps more soldiers alive from injuries that would have been lethal in past wars, more grievously injured veterans survive to come home to the United States.
Upon return, however, the newest veterans face many of the challenges that previous generations have encountered, ranging from re-entering the civilian workforce to rehabilitating broken bodies and treating traumatic brain injuries. As they come home, they are encumbered by more than scars and memories. Their war records are missing. When they apply for benefits, they’re added to a growing backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). And even as the raw number of claims grows to nearly 900,000, the average time to process them is also rising. According to Aaron Glanz of the Center for Investigative Reporting, veterans now wait an average of 272 days for their claims to be processed, with some dying in the interim.
The growth in the VA backblog should be seen in context with a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, improved outreach and more open standards for post-tramautic stress syndrome, Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and “Gulf War” illness, allowing more veterans who were previously unable to make a claim to file.
While new teams and technologies are being deployed to help with the backlog, a recent report (PDF) from the Office of the Inspector General of the Veterans Administration found that new software deployed around the country that was designed to help reduce the backlog was actually adding to it. While high error rates, disorganization and mishandled claims may be traced to issues with training and implementation of the new systems, the transition from paper-based records to a digital system is proving to be difficult and deeply painful to veterans and families applying for benefits. As Andrew McAfee bluntly put it more than two years ago, these kinds of bureaucratic issues aren’t just a problem to be fixed: “they’re a moral stain on the country.”
Given that context, the launch of a new VA innovation center today takes on a different meaning. The scale and gravity of the problems that the VA faces demand true innovation: new ideas, technology or methodologies that challenge and improve upon existing processes and systems, improving the lives of people or the function of the society that they live within. Read more…
Todd Park is looking for Presidential Innovation Fellows to help government work better.
In this interview, U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park lays out his ambitious agenda to apply technology in the public interest. Park has introduced new presidential fellowships and programs to scale open data across the federal government, releasing more health information and making digital government citizen-centric.
Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and CTO Todd Park say open data will be the new default.
The nation's top information technology officials introduced a bold new strategy for 21st century digital government that is built upon data, shared services, citizen-centrism and hews to consistent methodologies for privacy and security.
US CIO Steven VanRoekel says that machine-readable open data must be the 'new default' in government.
rom adjusting to the needs of an increasingly mobile federal workforce to moving to the cloud to developing a strategy for big data, it's safe to say that federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has a lot on his plate.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has aligned its open source policy with its mission.
CFPB CIO Chris Willey and acting deputy CIO Matthew Burton discuss the agency's new open source policy, government IT, security, programming in-house, the myths around code-sharing, and big data.
How Zipcar technology is leading to leaner government.
Whether it's co-working, bike sharing, or cohabiting, there are green shoots throughout the economy that suggest the ways we work, play and learn are changing.
The CFPB's open source policy focuses on mission and code sharing.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as the nation's "startup federal agency," has the opportunity to start with blank slate. In this guest post, its deputy CIO explains the thinking behind its new open source software policy and strategy.
Agile FBI, Lucky Meat, Hiring Introverts, and Future of Reading
Tricorder, Microsoft and Open Source, Crime is Freedom's Contra, and Government Cybercrime
- Tricorder Project — open sourced designs for a tricorder, released as part of the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize. (via Slashdot)
- Microsoft’s New Open Sourced Stacks (Miguel de Icaza) — not just open sourced (some of the code had been under MS Permissive License before, now it’s Apache) but developed in public with git: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Web Pages v2. The Azure SDK is also on github.
- In An Internet Age, Crime is Essential to Freedom (Donald Clark) — when a criminal asks: “How do I secure payment and store my ill-gotten gains”, somewhere else, a refugee asks: “How can I send funds back to a relative such that they can’t be traced to me”.
- NSA: China Behind RSA Attacks (Information Week) — I can argue both sides about whether government cloud services are a boon or a curse for remote information thieves. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Todd Park is a guy who could do literally anything he put his mind to, and he's taking up the challenge of making our government smarter about technology.