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Tech Systems Are Outdated, Say Experts Fashioning Briefs for Incoming Administration

Jericho Casper

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Screenshot from the webinar

November 1, 2020 — The federal government’s outdated technology systems have left America vulnerable, said Cassandra Madison, acting executive director of the Tech Talent Project, during an American Enterprise Institute webinar on Tuesday.

One example of failure occurred when the government’s unemployment website crashed. Another manifest itself in the difficulty of obtaining statistics on how many Americans have been tested for COVID-19. Or even when stimulus checks were mailed to the deceased.

In the year 2020, she said technological failures undermined the capabilities of day-to-day government operations.

The Tech Talent Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project dedicated to increasing the ability of the U.S. government to recruit modern technical leaders, is developing a network of tech experts to conduct in-depth tours of the technology fueling America’s public agencies.

The incoming administration will receive technology-focused agency briefs written by expert technologists and policymakers who served in the agencies to assess items critical for first 200 days of the President’s agenda.

Experts in tech policy in the federal government aim to provide a roadmap for the next administration to follow.

“Seizing the opportunities of technology and ensuring its proper governance requires leaders who deeply understand how technology can affect the American people, our national security, the economy, and our competitiveness in the global landscape,” said Madison.

“Any presidential agenda in the 21st century must prioritize technology expertise to accomplish its goals,” said Nina Hsiang, vice president of policy and government affairs at Devoted Health, adding that the government has not kept pace with technological innovation.

“America’s systems are not just ageing, they are old and outdated,” added Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the United States, detailing that the Unites States’ social security website operates on 60 million lines of COBOL, a programming language created in 1959.

Running a $200 million HHS system on COBOL

In one of the worse cases, the Department of Health and Human Services was running on a 50-year-old $200 million system. “Forty private sector experts created a new system that cost $4 million to build and less than $4 million per year to operate, and it worked better,” said Madison.

According to the panelists, $90 billion is spent annually on technology, but a lack of technical understanding by senior leadership prevents investments from delivering results.

The panelists advocated for the federal government to increase national tech talent by investing time and resources to upskill America’s existing workforce, as agencies will need leaders with modern technical expertise from day one.

Further, the administration should prioritize building a modern data infrastructure to enable secure sharing of data within agencies, between agencies, and with the American public.

Finally, the panel called for the federal government to adopt human-centric product development models.

“More attention should be drawn to the experience of end users,” said Hsiang. “People literally have to take off of work and seek assistance to fill out federal applications. We should be able to do better.” Hsiang called for more government services to be offered on mobile-friendly platforms.

“Many people in government are not consumers of the services we’re offering,” added Wong. “They have never been on Medicaid; they’ve never applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s hard to have the right intuition about end users when you have little experience with the users themselves.”

Innovation

Evidence-Based Policy Making is Particularly Important in Managing Radio Frequency Spectrum

Liana Sowa

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Screenshot from one of the Silicon Flatirons panels

November 1, 2020 — The federal government’s outdated technology systems have left America vulnerable, said Cassandra Madison, acting executive director of the Tech Talent Project, during an American Enterprise Institute webinar on Tuesday.

One example of failure occurred when the government’s unemployment website crashed. Another manifest itself in the difficulty of obtaining statistics on how many Americans have been tested for COVID-19. Or even when stimulus checks were mailed to the deceased.

In the year 2020, she said technological failures undermined the capabilities of day-to-day government operations.

The Tech Talent Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project dedicated to increasing the ability of the U.S. government to recruit modern technical leaders, is developing a network of tech experts to conduct in-depth tours of the technology fueling America’s public agencies.

The incoming administration will receive technology-focused agency briefs written by expert technologists and policymakers who served in the agencies to assess items critical for first 200 days of the President’s agenda.

Experts in tech policy in the federal government aim to provide a roadmap for the next administration to follow.

“Seizing the opportunities of technology and ensuring its proper governance requires leaders who deeply understand how technology can affect the American people, our national security, the economy, and our competitiveness in the global landscape,” said Madison.

“Any presidential agenda in the 21st century must prioritize technology expertise to accomplish its goals,” said Nina Hsiang, vice president of policy and government affairs at Devoted Health, adding that the government has not kept pace with technological innovation.

“America’s systems are not just ageing, they are old and outdated,” added Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the United States, detailing that the Unites States’ social security website operates on 60 million lines of COBOL, a programming language created in 1959.

Running a $200 million HHS system on COBOL

In one of the worse cases, the Department of Health and Human Services was running on a 50-year-old $200 million system. “Forty private sector experts created a new system that cost $4 million to build and less than $4 million per year to operate, and it worked better,” said Madison.

According to the panelists, $90 billion is spent annually on technology, but a lack of technical understanding by senior leadership prevents investments from delivering results.

The panelists advocated for the federal government to increase national tech talent by investing time and resources to upskill America’s existing workforce, as agencies will need leaders with modern technical expertise from day one.

Further, the administration should prioritize building a modern data infrastructure to enable secure sharing of data within agencies, between agencies, and with the American public.

Finally, the panel called for the federal government to adopt human-centric product development models.

“More attention should be drawn to the experience of end users,” said Hsiang. “People literally have to take off of work and seek assistance to fill out federal applications. We should be able to do better.” Hsiang called for more government services to be offered on mobile-friendly platforms.

“Many people in government are not consumers of the services we’re offering,” added Wong. “They have never been on Medicaid; they’ve never applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s hard to have the right intuition about end users when you have little experience with the users themselves.”

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Copyright

In Google v. Oracle, Supreme Court Hears Landmark Fair Use Case on Software Copyright

Jericho Casper

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Photo of Tom Goldstein from the Peabody Award used with permission

November 1, 2020 — The federal government’s outdated technology systems have left America vulnerable, said Cassandra Madison, acting executive director of the Tech Talent Project, during an American Enterprise Institute webinar on Tuesday.

One example of failure occurred when the government’s unemployment website crashed. Another manifest itself in the difficulty of obtaining statistics on how many Americans have been tested for COVID-19. Or even when stimulus checks were mailed to the deceased.

In the year 2020, she said technological failures undermined the capabilities of day-to-day government operations.

The Tech Talent Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project dedicated to increasing the ability of the U.S. government to recruit modern technical leaders, is developing a network of tech experts to conduct in-depth tours of the technology fueling America’s public agencies.

The incoming administration will receive technology-focused agency briefs written by expert technologists and policymakers who served in the agencies to assess items critical for first 200 days of the President’s agenda.

Experts in tech policy in the federal government aim to provide a roadmap for the next administration to follow.

“Seizing the opportunities of technology and ensuring its proper governance requires leaders who deeply understand how technology can affect the American people, our national security, the economy, and our competitiveness in the global landscape,” said Madison.

“Any presidential agenda in the 21st century must prioritize technology expertise to accomplish its goals,” said Nina Hsiang, vice president of policy and government affairs at Devoted Health, adding that the government has not kept pace with technological innovation.

“America’s systems are not just ageing, they are old and outdated,” added Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the United States, detailing that the Unites States’ social security website operates on 60 million lines of COBOL, a programming language created in 1959.

Running a $200 million HHS system on COBOL

In one of the worse cases, the Department of Health and Human Services was running on a 50-year-old $200 million system. “Forty private sector experts created a new system that cost $4 million to build and less than $4 million per year to operate, and it worked better,” said Madison.

According to the panelists, $90 billion is spent annually on technology, but a lack of technical understanding by senior leadership prevents investments from delivering results.

The panelists advocated for the federal government to increase national tech talent by investing time and resources to upskill America’s existing workforce, as agencies will need leaders with modern technical expertise from day one.

Further, the administration should prioritize building a modern data infrastructure to enable secure sharing of data within agencies, between agencies, and with the American public.

Finally, the panel called for the federal government to adopt human-centric product development models.

“More attention should be drawn to the experience of end users,” said Hsiang. “People literally have to take off of work and seek assistance to fill out federal applications. We should be able to do better.” Hsiang called for more government services to be offered on mobile-friendly platforms.

“Many people in government are not consumers of the services we’re offering,” added Wong. “They have never been on Medicaid; they’ve never applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s hard to have the right intuition about end users when you have little experience with the users themselves.”

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5G

5G Will Disrupt Every Part of the U.S. Economy, Predicts FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Liana Sowa

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on

Screenshot of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai from the event

November 1, 2020 — The federal government’s outdated technology systems have left America vulnerable, said Cassandra Madison, acting executive director of the Tech Talent Project, during an American Enterprise Institute webinar on Tuesday.

One example of failure occurred when the government’s unemployment website crashed. Another manifest itself in the difficulty of obtaining statistics on how many Americans have been tested for COVID-19. Or even when stimulus checks were mailed to the deceased.

In the year 2020, she said technological failures undermined the capabilities of day-to-day government operations.

The Tech Talent Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project dedicated to increasing the ability of the U.S. government to recruit modern technical leaders, is developing a network of tech experts to conduct in-depth tours of the technology fueling America’s public agencies.

The incoming administration will receive technology-focused agency briefs written by expert technologists and policymakers who served in the agencies to assess items critical for first 200 days of the President’s agenda.

Experts in tech policy in the federal government aim to provide a roadmap for the next administration to follow.

“Seizing the opportunities of technology and ensuring its proper governance requires leaders who deeply understand how technology can affect the American people, our national security, the economy, and our competitiveness in the global landscape,” said Madison.

“Any presidential agenda in the 21st century must prioritize technology expertise to accomplish its goals,” said Nina Hsiang, vice president of policy and government affairs at Devoted Health, adding that the government has not kept pace with technological innovation.

“America’s systems are not just ageing, they are old and outdated,” added Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the United States, detailing that the Unites States’ social security website operates on 60 million lines of COBOL, a programming language created in 1959.

Running a $200 million HHS system on COBOL

In one of the worse cases, the Department of Health and Human Services was running on a 50-year-old $200 million system. “Forty private sector experts created a new system that cost $4 million to build and less than $4 million per year to operate, and it worked better,” said Madison.

According to the panelists, $90 billion is spent annually on technology, but a lack of technical understanding by senior leadership prevents investments from delivering results.

The panelists advocated for the federal government to increase national tech talent by investing time and resources to upskill America’s existing workforce, as agencies will need leaders with modern technical expertise from day one.

Further, the administration should prioritize building a modern data infrastructure to enable secure sharing of data within agencies, between agencies, and with the American public.

Finally, the panel called for the federal government to adopt human-centric product development models.

“More attention should be drawn to the experience of end users,” said Hsiang. “People literally have to take off of work and seek assistance to fill out federal applications. We should be able to do better.” Hsiang called for more government services to be offered on mobile-friendly platforms.

“Many people in government are not consumers of the services we’re offering,” added Wong. “They have never been on Medicaid; they’ve never applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s hard to have the right intuition about end users when you have little experience with the users themselves.”

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