Groups Urge Congress to Fund Federal Tech Upgrades in Next COVID Stimulus Bill

Nextgov | April 16, 2020

Groups Urge Congress to Fund Federal Tech Upgrades in Next COVID Stimulus Bill
The next stimulus package—expected to infuse trillions of dollars into the U.S. economy—must include significant and targeted funding for federal, state and local technology upgrades, according to a group of federal IT-focused advocacy groups. As Americans receive checks from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, Congress is already considering another round of stimulus spending to ease the pain of strict social distancing measures. To be truly effective, the funding must also include support for the underlying IT systems used to distribute emergency aid and ensure government operations continue unabated, according to a letter sent Wednesday to House and Senate leadership.

Spotlight

The U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet is responsible for about half the petroleum consumed and about 17 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the nation (National Research Council (NRC), 2013). Electric vehicles are a critical strategy in reducing petroleum dependence and GHG emissions from road transport (NRC, 2013). In 2013, almost 100,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in the U.S. (Hybridcars, 2014). However, electric vehicle uptake has lagged policy targets. In order to meet the Obama Administration’s goal of one million electric vehicles in the U.S. fleet by 2015, the market share would have to increase from less than 1% in 2013 to roughly 6 percent of the auto market (Rascoe & Seetharaman, 2013).

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EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

Noblis Launches RunAcquisitions™ Solution to Help Federal Agencies Streamline Acquisition and Contract Management Processes

Noblis | August 24, 2021

Noblis, Inc., a leading provider of science, technology and strategy services to the federal government, today announced the launch of its RunAcquisitions solution designed to drive efficiencies and ensure compliance and fidelity throughout the federal acquisition process for both agencies and vendors. This is the second offering announced within Noblis' Run solutions suite designed to provide solutions that will help government agencies and clients employ automation and analytics to streamline complex workflows, expedite and improve decision making and achieve broader IT modernization goals. "Source selection and contract management can be a challenging and long-running process. It is too often conducted across multiple disjointed platforms, while also having to frequently face security threats and risks of protests," said Mile Corrigan, senior vice president, Noblis' Federal Civil Solutions. "Paired with Noblis' decades-long expertise in secure source selections and contract management, RunAcquisitions is designed to meet the unique needs we're seeing from our federal clients looking to standardize complex acquisition processes." RunAcquisitions, the modernized version of Noblis' acquisition suite successfully used in more than $450 billion in government programs, secures and manages vendor and government interactions across all aspects of the acquisition lifecycle, from requests for industry input through contract award and management and task-order closeout. RunAcquisitions is scalable to manage large, governmentwide contracts and provide automation tools to drive defensible awards and expedite contract modification and deliverable reviews. The solution has three offerings that meet FISMA-Moderate security requirements while assisting clients to control data through role-based access. These offerings include: RunAcquisitions Solicitation Management - Provides a solution for handling vendor proposals and managing all elements and data for evaluation submissions, including structured documentation, collaborative evaluations, with a secured repository, structured communication portals and automated pricing-evaluation tools. RunAcquisitions Contract Management - Utilizing automation to streamline the integrity of contract modifications and deliverables, this offering supplies a solution for tracking files and discussions, automating workflows, flexibly collecting data and managing contracts in a highly secure, compliant, timely and accurate manner with the solution's error-checking tools. RunAcquisitions Secure Environments - When a sequestered environment is required, this offering features multiple location support options, including virtual, physical and agency on-site resources, workstations, staff, security and office space. About the Run with Noblis Solutions Suite The Run with Noblis solutions suite addresses the evolving needs of federal agencies with the speed, performance and scale of digital solutions that create insights, automate workflows, streamline processes and drive greater outcomes. Learn more at noblis.org/run. About Noblis Noblis is a dynamic science, technology and strategy organization dedicated to creating forward-thinking technical and advisory solutions in the public interest. We bring the best of scientific thought, management and engineering expertise together in an environment of independence and objectivity to deliver enduring impact on federal missions. Noblis works with a wide range of government clients in the defense, intelligence, homeland security, law enforcement and federal civil sectors. Together with our subsidiaries, we tackle the nation's toughest problems and apply advanced solutions to our clients' most critical missions.

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GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Databricks Receives FedRAMP High Authority to Operate Across Public Sector

Databricks | November 27, 2020

Databricks, the Data and AI Company, today declared that Microsoft Azure Databricks has gotten a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) High Authority to Operate (ATO). This approval approves Azure Databricks security and consistence for high-sway information investigation and AI over a wide scope of public area, industry, and endeavor use cases. FedRAMP is a normalized way to deal with security evaluation, approval, and nonstop checking for cloud administrations as characterized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The ATO was allowed by the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board (JAB) which comprises of delegates from the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the General Services Administration (GSA). "At Veterans Affairs, we included Azure Databricks as part of our Microsoft Azure Authority to Operate (ATO)," said Joseph Fourcade, Lead Cyber Security Analyst, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office (ECSO). "When Databricks received FedRAMP High approval, we were able to move quickly to inherit that same Azure ATO and approve Azure Databricks for production workloads. Timing couldn't have been better, as we have been working with a number of VA customers implementing Databricks for critical programs." "Numerous federal agencies are looking to build cloud data lakes and leverage Delta Lake for a complete and consistent view of all their data," said Kevin Davis, VP, Public Sector at Databricks. "The power of data and AI are being used to dramatically enhance public services, lower costs and improve quality of life for citizens. Using Azure Databricks, government agencies have aggregated hundreds of data sources to improve citizen outreach, automated processing of hourly utility infrastructure IoT data for enabled predictive maintenance, deployed machine learning models to predict patient needs, and built dashboards to predict transportation needs and optimize logistics. FedRAMP High authorization for Azure Databricks further enables federal agencies to analyze all of their data for improved decision making and more accurate predictions." "We are pleased to add Azure Databricks to our portfolio of services approved for FedRAMP at the high impact level in Microsoft Azure Government," said Lily Kim, General Manager of Azure Government at Microsoft. "Azure Government provides the most trusted cloud for mission-critical government workloads. FedRAMP High approval for Azure Databricks enables government customers to build fast and reliable data lakes for innovative new use cases, such as risk management and predictive analytics." With this certification, clients would now be able to utilize Azure Databricks to handle the U.S. government's generally touchy, unclassified information in distributed computing conditions, including information that includes the insurance of life and monetary resources. From customized medical care and instruction to space investigation and energy research, Azure Databricks empowers associations to quicken new development while limiting danger when working with exceptionally touchy, private and public area information. With FedRAMP, associations have a steady method to assess the security of cloud arrangements utilizing NIST and FISMA characterized principles. FedRAMP offers a few degrees of affirmation and Azure Databricks has met the entirety of the necessities for approval for the most significant level of confirmation. Sky blue Databricks gets numerous other Azure administrations together with the FedRAMP High approval, empowering public area, undertaking and industry vertical clients to make and send cloud-based applications with certainty. About Databricks Databricks is the data and AI company. Thousands of organizations worldwide — including Comcast, Condé Nast, Nationwide and H&M — rely on Databricks' open and unified platform for data engineering, machine learning and analytics. Databricks is venture-backed and headquartered in San Francisco, with offices around the globe. Founded by the original creators of Apache Spark™, Delta Lake and MLflow, Databricks is on a mission to help data teams solve the world's toughest problems.

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GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Granicus Acquires Leading Compliance Software Provider GovQA to Help Government Agencies Manage Exponential Increase in Public Records Requests

Granicus | August 26, 2021

Granicus, the leading provider of cloud-based digital experience solutions for the public sector, today announced the acquisition of GovQA, the nation’s leading provider of public records and compliance workflow solutions for government. With the addition of GovQA, Granicus continues to extend the capabilities of its Civic Engagement Platform, helping government officials deliver consistent, unified digital experiences to their communities while automating, streamlining and transforming internal process workflows. “Governments are experiencing a massive influx of records requests filed by the public, corporations, and media; with some seeing a 500% increase in requests and even greater increases in the resources needed to fulfill these requests compared to only a few years ago,” said Mark Hynes, CEO of Granicus. “These trends have correlated with the public’s interest in pandemic response, an increase in social tensions and an overall erosion of government trust. Local and State government agencies have the opportunity to re-shape the trust narrative by embracing digital civic engagement and experience solutions that consistently demonstrate government transparency, efficiency, responsiveness, equity, empathy and reliance on truth. GovQA is an important and powerful addition to the Granicus platform that amplifies our customers’ ability to support healthy communities through deeper transparency, engagement and connection, while ensuring they remain compliant with their state’s unique regulations.” Access to public records is a vital pillar in the foundation of government trust. In many cases, fulfillment controls, processes and timeline compliance rules are mandated by local, state and federal regulations—such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—to drive consistency, reliability and faith in the process. But request fulfillment can be incredibly fragmented, complex and time-consuming for government officials—making their ability to remain compliant and meet public expectations a serious challenge, with the introduction of new data streams such as police body camera footage, social media posts, and smart cities technologies only making it more difficult. According to GovQA’s recent research, public records fulfillment and compliance complexity has increased 150% over the last three years alone. “Governments today are inundated with information requests. As volume continues to skyrocket, and requests become increasingly complex, traditional public records processes are no longer able to satisfy these demands,” said Tim Callahan, CEO of GovQA. “The stakes for governments are way too high to do this poorly or below standards; it’s why hundreds of government agencies have turned to GovQA to help them drive the efficiency and compliance required in today’s environment. And now, as part of Granicus, public records request management can more seamlessly be integrated into a government’s overall digital approach to community transparency, engagement, communications and workflow management.” GovQA has a proven track record of transforming public records management to make government processes simpler, easier and more transparent. To date, they’ve completed millions of information requests for nearly 800 government customers. With their public request compliance automation solution, GovQA offers: Enhanced efficiency: Information requests have grown significantly in recent years, and many governments have yet to invest in purpose-built automation solutions to help manage the influx —forcing them to rely on manual processes, spreadsheets or other tools ill-equipped to support increased volumes and compliance requirements. As a result, requests can take weeks or months to fulfill, creating a poor community experience and putting agencies at risk of compliance failures. GovQA overhauls and automates these processes, creating a fast, intuitive workflow that saves government personnel valuable time, ensures they remain in compliance, and delivers a positive community experience. Redundant request matching: GovQA’s software provides patented tools to quickly identify redundant requests, enabling residents to get fast access to the information they requested without requiring government personnel to unnecessarily duplicate time-consuming work. Risk mitigation: Governments have a legal responsibility to provide access to public information while protecting certain personal, private information. Through increased workflow automation, proprietary private information redaction technologies, and a digital audit trail, GovQA makes it possible for governments to remain compliant with public record laws while delivering on public requests at speed. Flexible customization: GovQA offers highly-configurable, no-code technology that enables government personnel to create custom workflows built for their unique needs. Agencies can securely collect and control time sensitive information within, across and outside government boundaries—eliminating silos, increasing efficiency, ensuring compliance and reducing the most common record request redundancies. Cost recovery: Many regulations governing public requests allow for agencies to charge fees to help cover the high costs of request fulfillment; GovQA with Granicus supports a variety of charge models and payment processing capabilities for funds capture. In combination with Granicus’ Civic Engagement Platform, GovQA accelerates Granicus' vision for intelligent, connected digital government experiences for both government agencies and officials, and the communities they serve. Today, more than 5,500 governments worldwide partner with Granicus to power their digital communications, public participation, online services, and agenda & public records management, all from a single cloud platform purpose-built for today's modern government. Shea & Company served as the exclusive financial advisor for GovQA. About Granicus Granicus connects governments with the people they serve by providing the first and only civic engagement platform for the public sector. Over 5,500 government agencies, including 850 state departments, and more than 250 million citizen subscribers power an unmatched Subscriber Network that turns government missions into quantifiable results. With comprehensive cloud-based solutions for communications, government website design, meeting and agenda management software, records management, and digital services, Granicus empowers stronger relationships between government and residents across the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. By simplifying interactions with residents, while disseminating critical information, Granicus brings governments closer to the people they serve—driving meaningful change for communities around the globe. About GovQA GovQA is the leading provider of cloud-based SaaS automated workflow solutions for government compliance. Customers use our software to more easily process and manage public records and information requests. GovQA combines trusted tools and security, proven government expertise, and a scalable platform that enables cities, counties, and state agencies to securely collect and control time-sensitive information. GovQA’s proprietary Peers in Public Records (PiPR) Index is the only index that tracks trends in public records for state and local governments.

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Spotlight

The U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet is responsible for about half the petroleum consumed and about 17 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the nation (National Research Council (NRC), 2013). Electric vehicles are a critical strategy in reducing petroleum dependence and GHG emissions from road transport (NRC, 2013). In 2013, almost 100,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in the U.S. (Hybridcars, 2014). However, electric vehicle uptake has lagged policy targets. In order to meet the Obama Administration’s goal of one million electric vehicles in the U.S. fleet by 2015, the market share would have to increase from less than 1% in 2013 to roughly 6 percent of the auto market (Rascoe & Seetharaman, 2013).