Government’s Growing Problem: Paying Its Technical Debt | Nextgov


In many ways, the definition of technical debt is still being defined.

But pretty much everyone agrees that it’s mostly based on the cost of maintaining aging software and systems, especially those which have existed well beyond their expected or planned lifecycles.

So in essence, an agency buys software or a computer system and takes on some technical debt right away because in addition to whatever the item costs, they need to pay people to maintain it.

Hopefully, when a system is new, that does not involve too much labor. However, many agencies try and hold on to systems as long as they can to avoid new capital expenses, even though that often means adding manual processes and patches to maintain security and usability. So the technical debt of owning that system grows.

There was a House hearing back in 2015 about IT modernization where some shocking facts about technical debt, though it was not commonly called that quite yet, came to light. It might have also been the first time that The Pareto Principle, first conceived in 1896, was applied to government IT.

The Pareto Principle states that for many events, 80 percent of the effects can be contributed to 20 percent of the causes.

For government IT, it was discovered that 75 percent of the IT budget in 2015 was earmarked for operating and maintaining legacy equipment, with only 25 percent going to new technology buys.

Source: Government’s Growing Problem: Paying Its Technical Debt – Nextgov

GTY Buys Six Tech Firms to Create Public Sector-Focused Software Company | GovCon Wire

GTY Technology Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: GTYH), a special purpose acquisition company founded by former Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and EMC executives, has wrapped up its purchase of six technology companies in a push to expand presence in the public sector market.

The deals resulted in the formation of a new software company that consolidates Bonfire Interactive, CityBase, eCivis, Open Counter Enterprises, Questica and Sherpa Government Solutions, Las Vegas-based GTY said Tuesday.

“The public sector is undergoing an extensive digital transformation,” said Stephen Rohleder, the combined company’s chairman and CEO.

Source: GTY Buys Six Tech Firms to Create Public Sector-Focused Software Company – GovCon Wire

Congress bucks DHS on bid to move cyber research funding | FCW


Congress rejected a bid to shift about $90 million in cybersecurity research funding to a newly formed agency at the Department of Homeland Security in the recent funding bill.

The Science and Technology Directorate at DHS will retain that funding, which DHS sought to move to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Source: Congress bucks DHS on bid to move cyber research funding — FCW

Incoming: Defense Department Talent Challenges Demand New Approaches | SIGNAL Magazine

One of the most pressing issues Defense Department leaders confront today is preparing its vast workforce for future challenges.

The military’s capacity to exert global influence, deter wars and, if necessary, fight and win conflicts in the future will depend on its ability to rapidly and smartly incorporate emerging technologies into day-to-day operations and decision-making. And doing that requires ready access to advanced skills, especially in information technology regarding cybersecurity, software development, data science and analytics, networking and intelligent automation architecting.

Today’s Defense Department civilian and military workforce is extremely talented and dedicated and can be counted on to surpass our expectations when called upon. However, the approaches employed today to recruit, manage, develop and task our military and civilian personnel increasingly are out of alignment with current trends ushered in by technology advancements and changing expectations in the workforce.

Source: Incoming: Defense Department Talent Challenges Demand New Approaches | SIGNAL Magazine

Air Force Seeks Disaggregated Command and Control | SIGNAL Magazine


A combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, fifth-generation communications and agile software development processes may one day allow commanders to direct any asset from anywhere, essentially revolutionizing command and control.

During the recent AFCEA Alamo Chapter Event in San Antonio, several officials agreed that the current command and control (C2) center known as an air operations center (AOC) has grown too cumbersome and vulnerable for Air Force commanders to make the rapid-fire decisions required in the modern era of multi-domain operations.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Wade, USAF, mobilization assistant to the Air Combat Command commander, pointed out that the AOC can take up to 72 hours to complete an air tasking order, which essentially assigns specific aircraft to a mission.

“I think in the future, and I say think, we’re going to be fusing information from fifth-gen platforms, bringing together everything we have in the Air Force, in other services and with our coalition partners, and trying to take that data and turn it into something actionable.”

Source: Air Force Seeks Disaggregated Command and Control | SIGNAL Magazine

DISA Calls on Industry to Build Transparency into Artificial Intelligence | SIGNAL Magazine


Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used by DOD to gain a competitive advantage, especially in cyberspace operations. While the technology has made it easier for the military to operate and communicate, “It has also a unique set of challenges with dependencies and vulnerabilities for the department, our nation, our economy and our everyday lives,” said Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).

The admiral presented the keynote luncheon address at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium on February 5 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine.

Adm. Norton also acknowledged that applying AI will require an increased level of comfort with automation, given the shift away from human-based processes it offers. Getting past the fear of trusting computer-based processes may be a challenge.

Source: DISA Calls on Industry to Build Transparency into Artificial Intelligence | SIGNAL Magazine

A Banner Year for Cyber Implementation | SIGNAL Magazine


Last year the U.S. Defense Department released a cyber strategy and followed that with posture review that identified more than 90 gaps in cybersecurity capabilities, many of which were determined to be critical shortcomings.

This year, officials expect to begin implementing the strategy, beginning with several priority areas involving endpoint management, network visibility, user authentication and cyber force development, according to Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, deputy principal cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Gen. Crall made the comments during a keynote presentation at the National Security Technology Forum and Exposition, a joint effort between the University of California San Diego and AFCEA, and during a brief interview with SIGNAL Magazine following the address.

Source: A Banner Year for Cyber Implementation | SIGNAL Magazine

SIGNAL Coverage: WEST 2019 | SIGNAL Magazine


Real-time coverage from WEST 2019, including blog posts, news and photos, all in one place. SIGNAL provides highlights and breaking news from speakers and panelists.

Source: SIGNAL Coverage: WEST 2019 | SIGNAL Magazine

Intelligence Strategy Outlines Measures for a Complex Threat Environment | SIGNAL Magazine


A new strategy for U.S. intelligence looks to improve integration of counterintelligence and security efforts, increasingly address cyber threats, and have clear guidance of civil liberties, privacy and transparency. As outlined in the U.S. National Intelligence Strategy (NIS), from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, the intelligence community is facing a turbulent and complex strategic environment, and as such, the community “must do things differently.”

Some leaders of the IC, including Coats; FBI Director Christopher Wray; CIA Director Gina Haspel; DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, USA; NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA; and NGA Director Robert Cardillo; all testified on Capitol Hill on January 29 as to the threats America faces from adversaries.

The leaders presented to the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Source: Intelligence Strategy Outlines Measures for a Complex Threat Environment | SIGNAL Magazine

Leaders Outline Plan for the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network | SIGNAL Magazine


Army leaders are tackling the integration of modern network capabilities to push out broadly across the Army force structure over the next decade.

Maj. Gen. David Bassett, USA, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO-C3T) and Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, USA, director, Network Cross-Functional Team (Network CFT) are overseeing the effort and have developed an iterative plan to bring together network transport, mission command applications and services, all easily deployed to soldiers.

“We know that the things that we are doing today are going to develop capabilities that are going to have a significant improvement in our expeditionary capability, and also in the simplicity of the network design,” Gen. Gallagher said.

Source: Leaders Outline Plan for the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network | SIGNAL Magazine