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Securing DOD's remote workforce, retirement and more

Essye Miller is set to retire at the end of June as the Department of Defense's deputy CIO. But before she packs up and walks out of the Pentagon one last time as one of the highest-ranking civilian IT officials in the DOD, we invited Miller to join Let’s Talk About IT for an exit interview. We discuss Miller’s career, her decision to retire and what’s next — and we also spend a good deal of time on the DOD’s IT response during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly telework and how important it’s been over the past three months to keep the federal workforce connected remotely and securely. Listen now to the podcast.

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With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

A new HHS business model for COVID-19 data

With the Department of Health and Human Services' efforts to gather and use data on the spread of COVID-19 came a new business model for the department. Rather than standardizing 3.5 billion data elements, HHS took a flexible approach, creating multiple avenues for receiving data using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies, said Chief Information Officer José Arrieta. “Saying that everybody is going to jump on a single platform is insane,” Arrieta said on an AFCEA Bethesda webinar this week. “It’s never going to happen, especially when you’re delivering a capability that’s touching the entirety of the United States.” Dave Nyczepir has more from Arrieta.

Air Force has goals for cybersecurity AI

The Air Force doesn't want airmen focused on basic cyberdefense — it would prefer artificial intelligence do that. Fixing bugs and sifting through reams of threat reports are assignments better left to AI instead of overloaded human workforces, Lauren Knausenberger, chief innovation officer for the Air Force, said Wednesday during CrowdStrike’s Fal.Con for Public Sector Conference. “We are just going to miss things the more we do manually,” Knausenberger said. The Air Force would prefer its human cyber workforce to be “creative in an evil way” by spending more time simulating real-world hacks on the service’s technology, she said. Jackson has more from the Fal.Con summit.

Federal Data Strategy detailees

The Office of Management and Budget is searching for detailees who want to help implement the Federal Data Strategy within their respective agencies. The detailees will be responsible for completing 20 actions specified under the FDS, which is a set of cross-agency goals for leveraging data as a strategic asset. Released in June 2019, the strategy was followed by a 2020 Action Plan in December. Some of the target dates for the action plan were extended because of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to working on the Action Plan, detailees will develop the 2021 version and help increase collaboration toward the FDS goals. Dave has more on the detailees.

A deep dive into CMMC's board

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is set to upend how the Department of Defense does business with 300,000 contractors who provide everything from advanced aircraft to the shoelaces in soldiers’ boots. The board and accreditation body behind the program faces the huge task of hiring and training the cybersecurity assessors who will certify the cybersecurity of DOD's contractors. But beneath the surface, many structural challenges remain, and those unresolved issues are raising questions about whether CMMC will become the most important four-letter acronym for those wanting to do business with the DOD — or be added to the ash heap of failed Pentagon cybersecurity initiatives. Jackson has the story.


Behind the scenes: the Census Bureau’s success story

When it comes to IT modernization, federal agencies commonly face three central challenges: integrating a myriad of systems, rationalizing applications and winning over each system owner to support agencywide infrastructure changes. Those challenges often come to a head when trying to cultivate an agile and secure DevSecOps process. One agency that has demonstrated surprising success in overcoming those challenges — in the face of daunting deadlines — is the U.S. Census Bureau. Read the full scoop.

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