Public Sector 5G Strategy Series – Part 1: Technology

Posted by Laura Stanton
on June 16, 2020

The Wheel Is Turning

If you’ve scrolled through social media or watched live TV lately, you’ve likely seen an ad for 5G. If you find yourself wondering why there is so much conversation about 5G –you are not alone. Is it worth all of this attention?

We think so. 5G is set to revolutionize the world’s telecommunications infrastructure, paving the way for even greater use of autonomous devices and expanding the number of interconnected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).

In October 2019, GSA held its first public event about 5G, where government and industry experts gave us a compelling look at the rollout of next generation networks, discussed how they’ll support IoT applications, and outlined the steps necessary to secure this new hyperconnected future.

Going forward, we’ll be sharing a series of posts outlining how we expect 5G will drive change across government, and what agencies should do to prepare. 5G means different things to different people, so our “5G for Government” strategy is best visualized as a wheel composed of six core concepts:

  • Technology
  • Standards
  • Security
  • Policy
  • Acquisition
  • Use Cases

This post will look at the evolution of the technology enabling 5G, and more importantly, the types of devices, applications, and services that will soon depend on it.

New Tech, Same Trends

The first cellular telephones hit the market in the mid-1970s and offered wireless voice calling over an analog network. In the early 90s, this first generation cellular technology, using analog telecommunications standards, transitioned to a 2G digital network, allowing both voice and data to travel wirelessly between devices.

3G and 4G gave us mobile internet and streaming video, respectively, leading to the rise of the smartphone and entirely new industries, such as mobile application development and cross-platform analytics.

Remember when you couldn’t open an email attachment on your phone or send a photo—let alone a video—over a wireless network? When did that change?

Most people could not tell you which network generation enabled what feature, only that devices became faster, applications more data dependent, and new services arose as capabilities increased.

The same will be true for 5G, but due to its engineered flexibility and vast capacity for high-speed data transfer, the changes will come sooner and reach far beyond communications.

Why 5G Is Different

Since 5G is still new to the market, what we can say about its current technology is limited. Indeed, many experts will tell you that 5G was designed to support applications and services that are still largely confined to a laboratory setting. For now, when we look at the technology, we can only compare it to what’s currently on the market, but when we do, it becomes apparent that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Changing Devices

Take the smartphone, for instance. Right now, a phone on a 4G network downloads data at approximately 12-36 megabits per second (Mbps). A 5G enabled phone clocks in at 50 Mbps at minimum. Phones on the fastest commercial networks can reach 1,000 (1 gigabit) per second, and average speeds are expected to exceed 10 Gbps as the technology matures.

How does it reach these speeds? 5G transmitters use higher frequency radio waves, some in or near the millimeter wave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Bandwidth is much more plentiful there, which greatly increases the capacity and speed of data transfer. Instead of a single cellular antenna, the 5G phone contains multiple receivers, allowing it to process all this data over multiple streams, in parallel. You could liken it to filling a glass of water from the bottom up, and the top down, at the same time. 

Smaller, More Flexible Networks

Like their predecessors, 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into a mosaic of small geographical areas called cells. While conventional cell phone towers are hundreds of feet tall, millimeter wave antennas are only a few inches long. Though an individual antenna may only cover a small area, multiple antennas can work together as phased arrays to beam data straight to the user. This technique, known as beamforming, is one of many ways that 5G networks can be optimized to improve performance while it serves huge numbers of devices.

Open To Innovation

Small but mighty, 5G networks could be used to provide general home and office internet connections. A technique called network slicing could be used to segment a larger 5G network into highly customizable “slices,” managed and operated independent of the infrastructure owner, tailored to unique business needs. When used in conjunction with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), 5G could replace outdated cable connections in government offices, campuses, and military bases.

Edge computing is another exciting concept made practical by 5G. This technique involves creating a cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of the cell, leveraging its unique properties and raw power to move computational workloads physically closer to the user. Theoretically, sophisticated edge computing could eliminate the need for physical hard drives and bulky device components, as the actual computing would occur in the cloud and beam compiled data directly to a screen or user interface. Battery sizes would shrink, ushering in new opportunities for wearable and drone technology.

Hypercharged wireless internet and robust cloud computing are just the start. The high data rate and low latency of 5G are envisioned as opening up many new applications in the near future. The use of data-heavy virtual and augmented reality applications in healthcare and research is one promising example. Another is 5G’s facilitation of fast machine-to-machine interactions in the coming Internet of Things . For example, computers in vehicles would continuously communicate with each other, sensors on the road, and real-time, artificial intelligence) generated directions using 5G. This is the kind of “smart grid” cities will have to deploy to support self-driving cars. Over time, communication capabilities and computing power will combine and extend across networks and devices, and information and computing power will be instantaneously available. This will encourage a wave of innovation in applications, services and functions built to run on the new infrastructure. 

Lightning speed, expanded capacity, and massive connectivity are the defining characteristics of current 5G networks and enabled devices. These conditions are ideal for emerging technologies to take root.  

More than that, 5G is widely expected to be a defining stage in the global evolution of IT in general, affecting almost all parts of industry and society. In subsequent posts, we’ll take a look at the standards on which it will all be built and explore the security considerations around its deployment. 

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GSA Driving Success in the Small Business Community

Posted by Laura Stanton
on June 10, 2020

Here at GSA, we couldn’t be more proud of our small business partners – they are critical to our ability to deliver mission-enabling technology products, services, and solutions to agencies.

We’re also proud of the various paths to success we provide to small businesses of all types through our contract solutions. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present new challenges and obstacles to many of GSA’s partners in the small business community, we are doing all we can to help keep this important part of the federal IT ecosystem vibrant and successful. As we all navigate new realities and requirements, GSA is working to ensure small businesses have the opportunities to thrive; and that we’re fully supporting them.

The Importance of Small Businesses

The numbers drive this home. In fiscal year 2019, the federal government spent over $68.1 billion on IT, with approximately $47 billion allocated to the IT Services sub-category. Federal agencies awarded $15.6 billion in IT services alone to small businesses. $5.3 billion of that went through GSA contracts. That’s not a small chunk of change.

Considering that almost a third of IT services spend was conducted through GSA and 75 percent of companies on GSA’s Schedule are small businesses; not to mention the nearly 1,000 small businesses on GSA’s Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), the data show that customer agencies continue to rely on GSA and our small business partners’ solutions as invaluable tools to meet their acquisition requirements.

Long History of Supporting Small Businesses

Our small business GWACs have a long history supporting stakeholders – going back to the late 1990s. The GWACs have been focused on assisting customers in meeting statutory and other small business goals while meeting mission outcomes. The first GSA 8(a) GWAC, 8(a) FAST, was awarded in 1997. Since that time, customers have relied upon GSA’s small business GWACs to fulfill over $27B in task orders. Given their direct material contributions to the small business industrial base, the SBGWACs have been supported by every administration since their inception, having iteratively evolved through continuous improvement across each generational sprint.

Given this history, the popularity of these contracts, and the government’s reliance on GSA to deliver these solutions; we take our commitment seriously. Supporting small businesses has always been, and will continue to be, a key driver for GSA going forward.

Looking to the Future

Built with the future in mind, all of GSA’s GWACs have been designated as best-in-class (BIC) – preferred governmentwide solutions capable of supporting Tier 3 spend, a focus of the governmentwide category management strategic plan. We’re focused on ensuring our solutions meet the needs of our customers with a robust number of small businesses of all types.

GSA’s IT Category Small Business Vehicles

  • GSA’s MAS – Information Technology has approximately 4,000 small business industry partners with periods of performance for up to 20 years.
  • 8(a) STARS II GWAC has approximately 800 8(a) firms, supporting the most common IT services NAICS codes; it allows for direct buys up to $4 million, through the end of FY21.
  • VETS 2 GWAC has 70 service-disabled veteran-owned small business contract holders. The initial period of performance through February 2023 with an additional five-year option.
  • Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), has three (3) small businesses supporting enterprise telecommunications and networking solutions with option periods through 2032- a first-ever for our flagship telecom contracts.

8(a) STARS III Update

The 8(a) STARS II GWAC has exceeded all of our expectations. We’ve raised the contract’s ceiling more than once to accommodate demand. In fact, it’s at its ceiling again and demand continues to be through the roof; we’re working on remedies now to ensure the government can continue to benefit from this easy to use and effective solution

As we move into this contract’s fourth generation we can say for certain that this program is a huge success. The 8(a) STARS program has served as a small business accelerator into the competitive government contracting marketplace, with a significant number of prior 8(a) STARS program participants growing their business so much that we now see them thriving with the big companies on GSA’s Alliant 2 GWAC.

Following that unprecedented success, we’re working on the release of the final solicitation for STARS III. The STARS III GWAC will increase opportunities for agencies to meet socioeconomic goals through our innovative solutions that, in addition to the great 8(a) STARS II foundation, will facilitate emerging technology and OCONUS requirements through specific master contract sub-areas. We plan to issue the final RFP for the 8(a) STARS III GWAC this fiscal year.

Planning The Way Ahead

As we look to the future, we intend to continue to support a large, diverse, and highly capable base of small business IT providers. GSA is pursuing creative strategies to increase the opportunities available to small businesses and expand the pool of small businesses on GSA contracts.

Emerging technology and security are key enablers for good government and GSA is looking at how we can provide more opportunities to innovative small and socioeconomic businesses (Women-Owned, HUBZone, 8(a), and Veteran-Owned), so customer agencies can tap into their expertise to drive IT modernization and improve service delivery.

We’re working to:

  • ensure that contract holder capabilities meet the evolution of technologies and refresh as needed via onramps.
  • remove small business barriers to entry by simplifying submission requirements for future GWACs.
  • further increasing engagement with industry prior to the release of solicitations via industry days and targeted conferences.
  • host regularly scheduled GWAC Program Meeting Reviews (PMR).
  • provide industry partner training.
  • encourage the establishment of an Industry Council for each SBGWAC.

Visit our website to learn more about our IT solutions or use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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Health IT Services for the Fight

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on June 4, 2020

As our nation faces COVID 19, telehealth services are more important than ever – GSA can help. GSA’s Health Information Technology (IT) solution was established in 2016 in partnership with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to advance IT systems and services for agencies with a health mission.

Digital health tools can help providers stay on top of the virus’ spread.

With telehealth solutions, we can help keep people safe and healthy. Patients can interact with doctors and their health information remotely while avoiding crowded hospitals or public transit. Telehealth can also map the spread of outbreaks and identify hot spots.

GSA Health IT Services on GSA Schedule

GSA’s Health IT Services Special Item Number (SIN) provides access for federal, state, and local governments to a wide range of health IT services to include telehealth, innovative health IT solutions, emerging health IT research, and other health IT services.

The SIN advances the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan in:

  • Expanding the adoption of health IT products and services;
  • Advancing interoperable health information solutions; and
  • Strengthening healthcare delivery systems.

Given the current healthcare climate and recent advances in health IT, the government will have an increasing need for industry experts who have strong health IT-specific qualifications.

The right health IT tools, now

The Health IT SIN, with close to 500 industry partners, provides a great selection of experts, who are non-traditional system integrators focused on clinical and business-related health IT. They have the skilled staff best suited to implement solutions for healthcare environments. With labor categories that include medical doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, GSA’s Health IT SIN is here to help with emerging government Health IT requirements.

Visit our website to learn more about www.gsa.gov/healthit or use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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Registration Open for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS): Path to the Future Sessions

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on June 3, 2020

GSA’s EIS Path to the Future online series will focus on sharing best practices that will help federal agencies prepare for EIS transition activities.

Be sure to attend if you are a:

  • CIO/IT staff member
  • Contracting Officer
  • Contracting Specialist
  • Financial staff member
  • Program manager
  • Project manager
  • Telecom staff member
  • Transition executive or manager

You can sign up to attend some or all of the sessions listed below. Attendees will earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP) for each session attended – up to six for the series. Your GSA support team will be available to answer your questions during the event.

The sessions:

Tips for Proposal Evaluation
Wednesday, June 10
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
Join us to hear from DOI about how they sustained their EIS task-order award after a GAO protest and the lessons they learned that will benefit all agencies.

Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) 3
Wednesday, June 17
3 to 4 p.m. (ET)
In this session, you’ll learn from GSA and DHS/CISA what’s expected of agencies to protect their networks. Discover what is available to help your agency meet security requirements using EIS. We will discuss how solutions can be packaged to provide the security you need now and will need later.

Transition Closeout
Thursday, June 18
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
As government agencies move to the EIS acquisition vehicle, legacy telecommunications contracts will expire. GSA will limit the use of its legacy telecommunications contracts and freeze all future growth on those vehicles. Extended use of these contracts is limited to agencies who are making sufficient transition progress to be 100% off the expiring contracts by September 30, 2022. The Networks Authorized User List (NAUL) will be updated to remove users in phases, which is expected to begin in summer 2020. In addition, GSA will stop processing any new Networx/WITS contract modifications and any new LSA implementation orders on October 1, 2020. Join us for this session to ensure that your agency is positioned well for the future and will avoid disruptions in service.

EIS Ordering
Wednesday, June 24
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. (ET)
After your task order is awarded and you’ve developed your implementation plan with your EIS supplier, it’ll be time to begin the ordering process. This interactive discussion will review who should be involved, what information needs to be conveyed, and how an agency begins the process. GSA will share all of this – and more – to help you expedite your ordering process.

Rules and Tips for Awarding EIS Contract Modifications Prior to Awarding Task Orders
Wednesday, July 15
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
This session will cover the authorization of orders, Network Site Codes (NSCs) not in the traffic model, requesting status of vendor submissions (modifications) that affect your task-order award(s), and modification priority.

Solutions to Modernize your Enterprise Network
Wednesday, July 22
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
During this session, we’ll discuss advancements in network technologies – such as software-defined networking and managed security services – and how your agency can leverage these technologies as part of your EIS modernization plan. We will also explore the as-a-service model common with cloud computing and its applicability to network services.

On the registration page, check the boxes for each one-hour event you would like to attend. You must have a .gov or .mil email address to register.

Sign up for some or all of the sessions today!

For more information, visit our pages for EIS and the EIS transition. Members of the media who would like more information or to attend should contact us at press@gsa.gov.

GSA is here to help! If you have questions about EIS or the EIS transition, please contact your telecom agency manager.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Cybersecurity Best Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on June 2, 2020

The unprecedented and extraordinary efforts by businesses and Federal agencies to keep employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic have also inadvertently opened the door to cyberattacks.

Large-scale transitions to work-from-home technologies, heightened activity on many public-facing networks, and greater use of online services have presented new openings for cyber attackers to exploit. As people around the world shelter in place, they turn to online platforms to chat with friends, shop, work, and go to school. That transition to virtual life puts a large strain on cybersecurity controls.

Federal agencies face new daily challenges in assuring the security of networks. In the midst of the current global pandemic that imperative is even greater — they must protect their institutions while ensuring that daily tasks go on uninterrupted. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommends that agencies “make risk-based decisions as appropriate to meet mission needs” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is important now for agency leaders to focus on supporting technologies and capabilities that are absolutely essential to their organizations’ operations. Priority actions — and relevant technologies — may include testing already existing security plans, continuously monitoring security systems, and maintaining access security. GSA’s Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) Special Item Number (SIN) provides Federal agencies with rapid access to cybersecurity vendors who can assist with the following priority actions and more.

Best practices

Testing and having incident response plans in place are helpful for any agency. If an agency has plans such as incident response, disaster recovery, or continuity, it is important to test those plans and assess any risks as soon as possible. GSA’s HACS SIN provides rapid access to vendors evaluated for incident response services.

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) should continue to monitor their systems closely in order to identify cybersecurity events and incidents as soon as they may appear. Focus areas include monitoring networks for new strains of malware, monitoring collaboration tools such as Google Drive or Dropbox, and monitoring personnel activity. CISOs can also monitor their systems by using Intrusion Detection Systems or their preferred live network monitoring software. The HACS SIN is an efficient way to access these capabilities.

Access management in a remote work environment is another essential focus area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though cybersecurity is essential, so is the physical safety of the American people. Agencies are encouraging teleworking whenever possible to adhere to the Government’s social distancing guidelines, and cybersecurity experts are needed to help make telework safe and secure for employees.

With many — if not all — of an agency’s employees working from home, click-through rates for phishing emails may increase when employees no longer work closely enough with coworkers to ask them in person about suspicious activity. Remote work can also require agencies to enable offsite access to critical and/or confidential information, which can increase the risk of a cyber attack. Employees can mitigate this risk by adhering to their agency’s access control policy and utilizing secure connections (such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and/or VPN) when accessing Government networks containing sensitive information.

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human challenge, with heads of agencies and employees all juggling professional duties with personal and family responsibilities. The risk of cyberattacks will be elevated, but by focusing now on cyber activities — testing response plans, monitoring security systems, and maintaining personnel security — agencies can successfully maintain their security.

GSA is here to help connect Federal agencies with vendors that provide necessary cybersecurity services during this time through the HACS SIN solution. For more information, visit the HACS Homepage. To learn more about the additional services the HACS SIN provides, watch our HACS Overview Video.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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GSA Supports Government Readiness

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on May 14, 2020

In these tough times, we know how hard agencies are working to continue the good work of government. You don’t have to go it alone – GSA is here to help.

Our solutions make it easier to get mission-critical supplies and services to address the needs of first responders on emergency frontlines. They also provide access to the tools and technology necessary to keep the government running.

Addressing changing environments: continuing operations in an emergency

GSA’s contracts are set up for the quick acquisition of computers, software, mobile devices, cloud and virtual network solutions, cybersecurity, identity management, and health IT solutions.

As federal, state, local, and tribal agencies address the unique challenges presented by a pandemic, GSA will be here when needed as a trusted partner – in the middle of an emergency and in preparation for the next one.

Expedited support services for agencies

GSA is offering expedited support to agencies, including market research services to identify companies that can respond to emergency-related requirements and providing assistance on telework IT requirements as well as expediting requests for GWAC Delegation of Procurement Authority (DPA).

How can my agency get help?

GSA is uniquely positioned to fulfill agency needs and help them implement lasting enterprise solutions to enable modern capabilities.

GSA has several solutions set up to help right away:

  • GSS Laptop and Desktop Blanket Purchase Agreements
  • Wireless Mobility Solutions
  • Cloud / Virtual Solutions / Network Services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Identity Management (PIV/PKI)
  • Health IT Products and Services

Read more about these solutions in our Emergency IT Solutions 2-pager.

What’s next?

Contact us if you need help finding solutions during this crisis. Our Response Solutions Team is ready to assist you in making the right procurement decisions for your mission.

Contact info

For prompt support with emergency IT requirements, contact GSA’s National Customer Service Center:
Call: 855-482-4348
Hours for live chat and calls: Sunday 8 p.m. – Friday 8:30 p.m. CST
Email: ITCSC@gsa.gov

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GSA’s VETS 2 GWAC Celebrates 2nd Birthday with 50th Task Order Award

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on April 21, 2020

Since GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) opened for business in 2018, agencies from across the federal government have discovered its talented contractor pool, easy ordering, and competitive pricing as a great resource to meet their technology requirements. VETS 2 also benefits agencies by offering both Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned (SDVO) small business credit and access to a coveted Best-in-Class contract solution. This has resulted in 50 task order awards valued at nearly $600M in just over two years.

It’s easy to see why this GWAC has grown so popular. VETS 2 provides access to 69 highly qualified companies capable of completing virtually any IT service requirement, including emerging technologies like agile software development, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. VETS 2 also happens to be the only GWAC in the federal government that is set-aside exclusively for SDVO small businesses. These features make VETS 2 an excellent choice for customers looking to enhance business processes or solve a problem at their agencies.

In two short years, DOD and civilian agencies have utilized VETS 2 for a range of mission-critical requirements; including cybersecurity, IT helpdesk services, data analytics and an agency-wide web conferencing solution. With agencies continuing to identify GSA Best-in-Class GWACs as preferred sources for IT requirements, the future is bright for VETS 2.

Agencies interested in hearing more about VETS 2 are invited to participate in a future webinar hosted by the GSA VETS 2 team. Information about future training can be found at www.gsa.gov/vets2. Questions pertaining to VETS 2 can also be sent to vets2@gsa.gov.

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Freezing Modifications and Limiting Use of Extended Contracts

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on March 24, 2020

Timeline of the Planned Transition to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions

In December 2018, GSA announced that we would extend the expiring Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3, and Regional Local Service Agreement (LSA) contracts to allow the necessary time for agencies to complete transition and modernize.

The successful transition to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), the federal government’s $50 billion, 15-year, Best-in-Class acquisition vehicle for telecommunications and networking, is a strategic priority for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Originally set to expire in 2020, GSA is extending the expiring contracts by an additional three years to May 2023. In extending these legacy contracts, GSA requires agencies to meet certain critical milestones to continue using services on the extended contracts.

Additionally, GSA is taking steps to curtail the growth of services on the extended contracts by freezing modifications and limiting use. These actions will minimize the impact of GSA having to maintain dual operations.

Freezing Modifications on Extended Contracts

Effective October 1, 2020, GSA will implement controls on its extended Networx, WITS 3, and LSA contracts by freezing all future growth on these vehicles. All new services should be provided under the EIS contracts.

Processing Modifications on EIS Contracts

GSA recognizes that many agencies have released their EIS solicitations and are waiting for EIS contract modifications to be evaluated and awarded by GSA. We are prioritizing modifications needed for agency awards.

Limiting Use of Extended Contracts

On March 31, 2020, GSA will begin to limit the use of its extended contracts for agencies that are not making progress towards transition. GSA will disconnect agencies, in phases, to meet the September 30, 2022 milestone for 100% completion of transition. The first phase will include agencies that have been “non-responsive” to transition outreach from GSA. Future phases will be based on each agency’s status at that time and the individual circumstances impacting that agency’s transition progress, such as protests or pending contract modifications.

Once a phase is complete, agencies identified will no longer be allowed to process any modifications or orders, will be ineligible for an exception, and will have their active services disconnected.

We applaud the agencies that are taking active steps to modernize and we will continue to monitor progress across the federal government. Taking steps to curtail growth on the extended contracts will encourage agencies to transition existing and new services onto EIS. GSA will continue to communicate with agencies at all levels, provide resources and support to agencies through transition, and pull all available levers in support of significant cost savings, greatly improved efficiencies, and enhanced cybersecurity— all achievable through EIS.

Questions? Contact Allen Hill, Executive Director, GSA’s Office of Telecommunications Services at allen.hill@gsa.gov or (202) 701-7891.

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Incident Response: Protecting Your Agency Before and After a Cyberattack

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on March 10, 2020

As cyberattacks increase in size and frequency, it is important for every agency to protect its network from incidents that can jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an information system. The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security determined that 74 percent of federal agencies participating in their 2018 assessment had cybersecurity programs that were either at risk or high risk.

While an agency can take proactive measures to prevent cyberattacks, an incident may still occur. When a cyberattack or other damaging incident occurs in an agency’s network, reactive measures such as incident response must be taken to preserve the integrity of the information system.

Incident response is the methodology an organization uses to respond to and manage a cyberattack. A data breach or cyberattack can wreak havoc and potentially affect employee security, intellectual property, and agency time and resources. Incident response protocol aims to reduce this damage and recover as quickly as possible.

Incident response protects organizations against four common types of incidents:

GSA’s Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) Special Item Number (SIN) offers incident response services to help organizations with compromised systems. These services help to determine the extent of the incident, remove the adversary from systems, and restore networks to a more secure state.

HACS incident response services can also be used to proactively plan for future attacks. The benefits of preparing and maintaining an incident response plan helps agencies handle cybersecurity events and minimizes the impact of potential threats while strengthening an agency’s defenses against any future incidents.

Below is an example of an incident response plan:

Incident Response StepAction Taken
Preparation Create an asset list and system baseline.
Detection and AnalysisAnalyze events to determine whether they constitute an incident.
Containment, Eradication, and RecoveryPrevent further damage from an incident, and determine the cause of an incident so that the system can be returned to the previously known neutral state. Restore compromised system to operational status.
Post-Incident ActivityProvide final report of the incident identifying current procedures for efficacy and whether those procedures were followed properly.

Another benefit of the HACS SIN is that the vendors included under the incident response subcategory have passed a technical evaluation and can provide individualized incident response plans. If an agency already has an incident response plan, vendors can evaluate the plan and provide services that adapt to that individualized plan. Vendors use qualified resources to minimize the impact of cyber-attacks and avoid future incidents. Incident response services can also augment agency resources during a large scale incident.

For more information on incident response and how GSA’s HACS SIN can provide your agency with incident response services, please visit the HACS Homepage.

To learn more about the additional services the HACS SIN provides, watch our HACS Overview Video.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Riding the Digital Wave of Transformation – Together

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on March 3, 2020

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) are paving the way to automate business processes and, in turn, free up the government workforce to focus on more complex work activities. As ITC’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Acquisition one of my main priorities is to ensure we have the acquisition resources that agencies need to help them smoothly ride the digital wave of transformation.

An important part of our strategy is to foster collaboration and engagement with government and industry stakeholders – this is key to our success.

International Best Practices

This type of engagement also includes the bi-directional sharing of best practices with our international colleagues. I recently attended an event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark at the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC. Through a public-private partnership, Denmark has been focusing its government digitization on efficiency, citizen services, transparency, and employee satisfaction. They had a compelling presentation about the importance of understanding and improving the underlying processes related to the areas they want to digitize. ‘Process First, Technology Second’ is a key refrain in a Government of Denmark sponsored whitepaper.

Tejs Knudsen, CEO cBrain (Left), Keith Nakasone, GSA (Middle), H.E. Lone Dencker Wisborg, Danish Ambassador to the United States (Right)

Join the Conversation

There are a number of events coming up where we’ll be talking about AI, ML, and other important government acquisition topics. Chief among them is FAST 2020, where I’ll be participating in three separate sessions. Two in our IT Modernization, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation track; one on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and another, Innovative Methods of Assessing Information Technology Contractors, Changes, Innovations and Best Practices. I’ll also be on a panel with Katie Arrington, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, ASD(A), for Cyber to discuss the release of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, version 1.0.

Additionally, I’ll be speaking at the following events:

In This Together

In a recent blog post, our Assistant Commissioner, Bill Zielinski, talked about all of the great work we’ve done over the past year to improve the way federal agencies adopt, buy, build, and use technologies such as AI – you should check that out if you missed it.

Events like these give us an excellent opportunity to collaborate with our stakeholders. The lessons that we learn and the best practices we share will make all the difference as we ride the digital wave of transformation together.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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