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EU — Being human in a hyper-connected era – The onlife initiative

November 11, 2014 Comments off

Being human in a hyper-connected era – The onlife initiative
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The “Onlife Initiative”, a project launched by the Commission’s DG-CONNECT, explores the societal consequences of on-going digital transition. DG-CONNECT will present the conclusions of this project during a STOA workshop in the European Parliament on 2 December 2014.

The STOA workshop takes as its evidence-base that mobile broadband access to the internet, the Internet of Things, big data, open data, cloud-computing, social networks, and new forms of internet-based collaborative and co-creation models, (such as commons-based peer production and crowdsourcing), result in the ever-increasing pervasiveness of ICT in all aspects of our lives.

The digital revolution is clearly on its way. Governments are deploying e-government and e-participation systems, and in the political sphere, the new concept of online e-democracy clearly challenges the old representative democratic model invented by the Ancient Greeks. Progress in robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, self-driving vehicles, drones and smart factories may result in the massive automation (between 30-50%) of existing jobs in the next 20 years and will require changes to the education system for the new jobs that may be created.

Long-term prospects for health look promising and are aided by the rapid development of technologies such as low powered electronics, 3D printing and nanotechnologies. The application of the latest advances in gaming technologies to the learning and teaching environment already allows for dramatic improvemenst in education and vocational and education training in some sectors, such as medicine – a trend which looks likely to grow in the future. According to economists, the increased use of ICT in all sectors of the EU economy would be, all other things being equal, the most sensible way of increasing labour productivity and therefore growing the EU’s GDP per capita.

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CRS — Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic (October 14, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides references to analytical reports on cybersecurity from CRS, other government agencies, trade associations, and interest groups. The reports and related websites are grouped under the following cybersecurity topics:
• policy overview
• National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC)
• cloud computing and FedRAMP
• critical infrastructure
• cybercrime, data breaches, and data security
• national security, cyber espionage, and cyberwar (including Stuxnet)
• international efforts
• education/training/workforce
• research and development (R&D)

In addition, the report lists selected cybersecurity-related websites for congressional and government agencies, news, international organizations, and organizations or institutions.

Cost Considerations in Cloud Computing

October 2, 2014 Comments off

Cost Considerations in Cloud Computing
Source: RAND Corporation

Cloud computing has garnered the attention of the Department of Defense as data and computer processing needs grow and budgets shrink. Programs are interested in the potential of cloud computing to control growing data management costs, but reliable literature on the costs of cloud computing in the government is still limited. Researchers found that cloud provider costs can vary in value compared with traditional information system alternatives because of cost structure variations, and analyzed the cost drivers for several data management approaches for one acquisition program to develop structured cost considerations for analysts evaluating new cloud investments. These considerations can help analysts be comprehensive in their analysis until the DoD develops official guidance on cloud computing cost analysis.

New From the GAO

September 25, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Aviation: Impact of Fuel Price Increases on the Aviation Industry. GAO-14-331, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-331
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666127.pdf

2. Data Center Consolidation: Reporting Can Be Improved to Reflect Substantial Planned Savings. GAO-14-713, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-713
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666122.pdf

3. Cloud Computing: Additional Opportunities and Savings Need to Be Pursued. GAO-14-753, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-753
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666132.pdf

4. Overseas Real Property: State Department Needs to Improve Guidance and Records Management. GAO-14-769, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-769
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666159.pdf

5. Littoral Combat Ship: Navy Complied with Regulations in Accepting Two Lead Ships, but Quality Problems Persisted after Delivery. GAO-14-827, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-827
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666100.pdf

USPS OIG — Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Background
The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency asked inspectors general in the federal community to participate in an audit of cloud computing contracts. Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to shared resources that can be rapidly released and allows customers to take advantage of cutting edge technologies at a reduced cost. Hosted services are offered by providers that host physical servers in a different location. The audit was designed to provide insight on how well the federal government is protecting data and its progress in moving towards cloud computing.

As a participant in this audit, our objectives were to determine if the U.S. Postal Service’s cloud service contracts comply with applicable standards and evaluate management’s efforts to adopt cloud computing technologies.

What the OIG Found
The Postal Service’s cloud computing contracts did not comply with all applicable Postal Service’s standards. Specifically, the Postal Service has not defined “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” established an enterprise-wide inventory of cloud computing services, required suppliers and their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements, or included all required information security clauses in its contracts.

In addition, management did not appropriately monitor applications to ensure system availability. Management also did not complete the required security analysis process for three cloud services reviewed and did not follow Postal Service policy requiring cloud service providers to meet federal government guidelines. This occurred because no group is responsible for managing cloud services, and personnel were not aware of all policy and contractual obligations.

Without proper knowledge of and control over applications in the cloud environment, the Postal Service cannot properly secure cloud computing technologies and is at increased risk of unauthorized access and disclosure of sensitive data. We claimed $33,517,151 in contractual costs for the Postal Service not following their policy and contract requirements.

What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management define “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” develop an inventory of cloud services, monitor suppliers and require them to be certified, and revise contracts to include security clauses. We also recommended management evaluate best practices for cloud computing contracts, complete the security analysis process, and ensure compliance with non-disclosure clauses.

Big data (lost) in the cloud

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Big data (lost) in the cloud
Source: International Journal of Big Data Intelligence

The big data era poses a critically difficult challenge and striking development opportunities to high performance computing (HPC). The major problem is an efficient transformation of the massive data of various types into valuable information and meaningful knowledge. Computationally-effective HPC is required in a fast-increasing number of data-intensive domains. With its special features of self-service and pay-as-you-use, cloud computing (CC) offers suitable abstractions to manage the complexity of the analysis of large data in various scientific and engineering domains. This paper surveys briefly the most recent developments on CC support for solving the big data problems. It presents a comprehensive critical analysis of the existing solutions and shows the further possible directions of the research in this domain including new generation multi-datacentre cloud architectures for the storage and management of the huge big data streams.

An Overview of 60 Contracts That Contributed to the Development and Operation of the Federal Marketplace

August 27, 2014 Comments off

An Overview of 60 Contracts That Contributed to the Development and Operation of the Federal Marketplace
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

Summary

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required the establishment of a health insurance exchange (marketplace) in each State. For States that elect not to establish their own marketplaces, the Federal Government is required to operate a marketplace on behalf of the State. A marketplace is designed to serve as a one-stop shop where individuals can obtain information about their health insurance options, determine eligibility for insurance affordability programs, and select the plan of their choice. CMS operates the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (Federal Marketplace). CMS relied-and continues to rely extensively-on contractors to operate the Federal Marketplace. This report is the first in a series that will address the planning, acquisition, management, and performance oversight of Federal Marketplace contracts, as well as various aspects of Federal Marketplace operations. This report provides descriptive and financial data on 60 contracts related to the development of the Federal Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
CMS identified 60 contracts (“the contracts”) related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace. Not all of these contracts were awarded solely for the purpose of the Federal Marketplace. To determine the estimated value of the contracts and the amount obligated for the contracts as of February 2014, OIG analyzed contract, order, and modification documentation provided by CMS for the 60 contracts. We calculated the total obligation and expenditure amounts related to the Federal Marketplace portions of each contract by summarizing the financial accounting transactions that CMS identified as related to the Federal Marketplace for each contract. These financial accounting transactions (obligations and expenditures) include all transactions that CMS processed through its Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS) as of February 28, 2014, that CMS had provided to us as of June 18, 2014.

SUMMARY
The 60 contracts related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace started between January 2009 and January 2014. The purpose of the 60 contracts ranged from health benefit data collection and consumer research to cloud computing and Web site development. The original estimated values of these contracts totaled $1.7 billion; the contract values ranged from $69,195 to over $200 million. Across the 60 contracts, nearly $800 million has been obligated for the development of the Federal Marketplace as of February 2014. As of that date, CMS had paid nearly $500 million for the development of the Federal Marketplace to the contractors awarded these contracts.

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