I remember hearing Oracle’s President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz speak a few years ago at a conference I was able to attend. If you’re not familiar with her she happens to be one of the highest, if not the highest, compensated women in the world. Aside from that fact she works for the co-founder of Oracle Larry Ellison; it in itself not an easy task she noted. What struck me immediately in her description of operations at Oracle was the “independent operations” that each geographically separated division of the company was doing. Having arrived in 1999 at Oracle she noted that it was effectively divisional chaos; divisions doing similar non-coordinated things all over with little contribution toward building upon the large corporate strategy. Larry had brought Safra on at Oracle to fix this massive problem.
As I listened I couldn’t help but feel that this issue having been recognized at Oracle in the early part of the last decade had not been faced or embraced within the U.S. Government. I could only identify a few examples in our Military and even less withing the U.S. Navy. But this was during the time when taxpayer money flowed at a much faster and less scrutinized rate than that of 2012. With this context I’m ecstatic to see the release of the Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People by the U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Immediately in the introduction the US-CIO identifies the major issue the USG traditionally struggles with:
Early mobile adopters in government—like the early web adopters—are beginning to experiment in pursuit of innovation Some have created products that leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices. Others have launched programs and strategies and brought personal devices into the workplace. Absent coordination, however, the work is being done in isolated, programmatic silos within agencies.
The Digital Strategy Objectives:
- Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.
- Ensure that as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.
- Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.
The technologists have finally taken hold within the USG. The Digital Strategy Principles are based on:
- An “Information-Centric” approach—Moves us from managing “documents” to managing discrete pieces of open data and content17 which can be tagged, shared, secured, mashed up and presented in the way that is most useful for the consumer of that information.
- A “Shared Platform” approach—Helps us work together, both within and across agencies, to reduce costs, streamline development, apply consistent standards, and ensure consistency in how we create and deliver information.
- A “Customer-Centric” approach—Influences how we create, manage, and present data through websites, mobile applications, raw data sets, and other modes of delivery, and allows customers to shape, share and consume information, whenever and however they want it.
- A platform of “Security and Privacy”—Ensures this innovation happens in a way that ensures the safe and secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy.
The remainder of the document puts forth the more detailed aspect of each of these objective and how the principles should be implemented. It should open the eyes of the digital immigrants within the USG. With any new strategy this will take time for the USG as a whole to migrate toward. I simply wish that this would have received this amount of attention and backing when the USG could have avoided these extreme budget conditions. Imagine if this would have been released in 2008; the USG would be in a lot better condition both in the realm of information and fiscal effectiveness. The technology was there then… apparently we had our priorities a bit misaligned.
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Released in December of 2011 by the Executive Office of the President, the National Science and Technology Council provides direction in Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program. I find understanding this document helps clarify how the “Technology Doctrine” flows down through the government into the Department of Defense and then into the U.S. Navy.
The objective of Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program is “to express a vision for the research necessary to develop game-changing technologies that can neutralize the attacks on the cyber systems of today and lay the foundation for a scientific approach that better prepares the field to meet the challenges of securing the cyber systems of tomorrow.“
Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development (R&D) Program Thrusts:
- Inducing Change
- Designed-In Security
- Tailored Trustworthy Spaces (with a Focus Area of Wireless Mobile Networks)
- Moving Target (with Focus Areas of Deep Understanding of Cyberspace and Nature-Inspired Solutions)
- Cyber Economic Incentives – Research required to Explore models of cybersecurity investment and markets; develop data models, ontologies, and automatic means of sanitizing data or making data anonymous; define meaningful cybersecurity metrics and actuarial tables; improve the economic viability of assured software development methods; provide methods; to support personal data ownership; provide knowledge in support of laws, regulations, and international agreements.
- Developing Scientific Foundations
- Organizes disparate areas of knowledge – Provides structure and organization to a broad-based body of knowledge in the form of testable models and predictions
- Enables discovery of universal laws – Produces laws that express an understanding of basic, universal dynamics against which to test problems and formulate explanations
- Applies the rigor of the scientific method – Approaches problems using a systematic methodology and discipline to formulate hypotheses, design and execute repeatable experiments, and collect and analyze data
- Maximizing Research Impact
- Supporting National Priorities – Health IT, Smart Grid, Financial Services, National Defense, Transportation, Trusted Identities, Cybersecurity Education.
- Engaging the Cybersecurity Research Community
- Accelerating Transition to Practice
- Technology Discovery
- Test and Evaluation
- Transition, Adoption, and Commercialization
Executing the Federal Cybersecurity Research Program:
- Research Policies
- Provide accurate, relevant, timely scientific and technical advice
- ensure policies of Executive Branch are informed by sound science
- ensure scientific and technical work of Executive Branch is coordinated to provide greatest benefit to society
- Research Coordination
- Research Execution (via Agencies)
- DHS S&T
- DoD Service research organizations
I recently watched the movie The Iron Lady in which Margaret Thatcher comments, ”people don’t think any more, they feel. One of the greatest problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas. Now, thoughts and ideas, that’s what interests me.”
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
-Lao Tzu (Discovered via The Iron Lady)
I find Prime Minister Thatcher’s comments to be very useful for what the United States is experiencing today. We need to accept the hard medicine and think about what will really solve our Nation’s problems. The governing by feeling has failed us and we need to restore our ability to govern through Thought.