Tech Roundup

Eyeing employee emails, passing on PCs and the data center energy drain.

Inside Job

The Transportation Security Administration is shopping for a computer program to snoop into the online activities of agency employees, including their keystrokes and emails, for signs of potential leaks. TSA’s solicitation for an “enterprise insider threat software package” in June coincided with an Office of Special Counsel memorandum to federal agencies warning against targeted email monitoring. The memo followed a Food and Drug Administration retaliation case in which FDA allegedly spied on the private correspondence of whistleblowers.

Many government offices, particularly those in the intelligence and defense communities, are embracing employee-surveillance technology to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of federal information. TSA is specifically looking for a tool that can track keystrokes, chat messages and email, file transfers, and other activity—all without tipping off the employee. 

Spokesman David A. Castelveter says, “as the agency whose serious responsibility it is to deal with national security, TSA must remain vigilant to safeguard sensitive information in order to secure the nation’s transportation systems. This software is intended to assist in carrying out that mission. This initiative will be used in accordance with all federal laws and will be reserved for specific instances that meet TSA’s qualifications for an insider threat.”

FDA early this year ran into trouble with email monitoring when employees sued for allegedly bugging their government-issued computers after they informed the Office of Special Counsel about the agency’s approval of unsafe medical devices.

In her memo, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said agencies should evaluate their monitoring practices to ensure they don’t impede employees from using appropriate channels to disclose wrongdoing.

Aliya Sternstein

End of an Era

Veterans Affairs Department Chief Information Officer Roger Baker predicts that within five or six years VA no longer will furnish employees with computers. Instead, they will use the devices they own to connect to department networks. He also believes VA has issued its last desktop PC contract, a $477 million deal for up to 600,000 desktops awarded to Dell in April 2011. 

Baker would like to see VA get out of the business of providing its roughly 300,000 employees with hardware to access department networks and said he backed a policy that would allow employees to bring their own devices to the job. Asked how VA would manage the financial aspect of that type of policy, Baker says, “that’s a [human resources] issue.”

It will take a “massive investment” to ensure data is protected before VA can proceed with a widespread bring-your-own-device plan, Baker says. Managers and employees also would have to ensure that personal applications are free of viruses and malware before they are connected to the department’s computer systems.

Bob Brewin

Energy Drain

One barrier to gauging progress in the government’s data center consolidation effort is the fact that federal agencies aren’t measuring energy costs for some smaller data centers. 

It’s especially difficult to meter data centers that occupy only part of a building’s space and use a limited amount of energy, says Robert Harden, who works on IT efficiency for the Navy.

The Energy Department faces similar challenges, says Emily Stoddart, a program analyst with its Sustainability Performance Office. Officials are trying to determine which resources to put into small data centers that will likely be consolidated or closed. “We want to document a baseline for these data centers, but we’re wary of investing in a formal metering project,”
she says.


Joseph Marks

Pentagon Needs a Family (Cellphone) Plan

Buried deep within the Defense Department mobile device strategy released in June is a suggestion for a long overdue cost-saving idea: a centrally managed cellphone expense management system.

Outfits like The Bill Police help commercial enterprises centrally manage their cellphones—including ways to reallocate unused minutes from one phone to another—and Defense probably could save big bucks with the same approach.

I read FedBizOpps every day, and at least once a week some outfit in Defense has posted a cellphone service procurement. That’s an inefficient way to buy minutes for the world’s largest enterprise.
 
-Bob Brewin

NEXT STORY: Tech Roundup

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.