Tech Roundup

Cellular Revolution

The Veterans Affairs Department is looking to consolidate its cellphone billing into a national contract that covers voice and data airtime, as well as hardware such as smartphones and tablet computers.

The national mobile device and services contract would include the department’s 300,000 employees in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a request for information that VA issued to industry in July. The department currently uses multiple contracts to acquire mobile hardware and airtime.

To cut down on both voice and data airtime costs, VA plans to use the national contract to pool minutes and wants unlimited nighttime calls, unlimited text message service and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling within a specific carrier’s network.

Jin Wang, president of iSYS LLC, a McLean, Va.-based firm the General Services Administration hired to help federal agencies manage mobile communications, says the trend in government is to consolidate cellphone contracts, although the VA plan to acquire phones and tablets in the deal is an unusual approach. 

In June, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said he would a back a departmentwide policy allowing employees to bring their own devices to the job, but acknowledged he had not worked out the financial details of such a plan.

Wang says a BYOD plan probably would require some kind of employee reimbursement for hardware costs and airtime, a complex accounting process. The national mobile plan ultimately could save VA hassles and money, Wang says, adding “the carriers may just throw in the devices for free,” considering the large scale of the contract.


-Bob Brewin

Cybersecurity Rocks

In July, a world-renowned cybersecurity researcher received emails from someone claiming to be an Iranian scientist and reporting what has to be one of the most surreal cyberattacks in recent months—a computer virus that allegedly blared music while stopping equipment at the Natanz nuclear plant. 

There was “music playing randomly on several of the workstations . . . I believe it was playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC,” reads one email from the Iranian scientist that Mikko H. Hypponen, chief research officer at antivirus firm F-Secure, posted to his blog.

The scientist began the note by stating, “I am writing you to inform you that our nuclear program has once again been compromised and attacked by a new worm with exploits which have shut down our automation network at Natanz and another facility, Fordo, near Qom”—a reference to the Stuxnet virus that crippled the Natanz plant in late 2009.

Hypponen confirmed that the purported researcher was sending and receiving emails from within the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

-Aliya Sternstein

Happy Campers

Customer satisfaction with federal websites hit a new high in the second quarter of 2012, but remains slightly below the average for all online and offline businesses measured by the consultancy ForeSee, the company reports. 

Average satisfaction with federal websites on the American Customer Satisfaction Index rose from its previous high of 75.5 out of 100 in the second quarter of 2011 to 75.6 at the same time in 2012. The average score has slowly risen from about 70 to about 75 since 2003.

-Joseph Marks

Navy Missed the Boat

Military watchers are raising concerns that the Iranian Navy has developed a fleet of small, heavily armed patrol boats that could swarm and possibly sink large U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy could have its own swarms today if it had not dismissed the idea for a small, light ship that the late Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski proposed in 2001, which he dubbed the “Streetfighter.” 

Cebrowski argued then that buying a bunch of inexpensive ships—rather than a few expensive ones—would leave the Navy with a substantial force even if an enemy sunk many of them, a notion critics derided as the “throwaway ship” concept.

The Streetfighter, Cebrowski said, could take on missions in waters close to shore that carriers, cruisers and destroyers could not handle due to their size and draft—the situation it faces today.

-Bob Brewin

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.