The Veterans Affairs Department’s move to a cloud-based email system for its employees is nothing if not meticulous. When fully rolled out, in 2014, the new platform will give about 400,000 VA users — and eventually up to 600,000 — an array of collaborative tools and eventually yield tens of millions of dollars in savings on IT infrastructure for the department, VA officials expect.

But for the near term, in a carefully planned first phase, the department plans to migrate 15,000 users to Microsoft 365 for Government within a separate community cloud, by the end of March, said Charles De Sanno, VA’s executive director of enterprise systems engineering. Keep reading →

This feature showcases one video each Friday that captures the essence of innovation, technology and new ideas happening in government today.

This week’s video is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Description: USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has launched a water and wildlife conservation effort along the Gulf Coast of the United States. In the first of a five-part series on five different states, the USDA’s Bob Ellison has more on efforts on the Texas Gulf Coast. Keep reading →

Mobile device management software is helping federal, state and local governments to keep track of employee handheld devices. But as agency programs grow in size, new challenges such as technology life cycle and migration are beginning to surface. To address these issues, organizations are taking a number of approaches designed to meet their specific needs.

NASA straddles the line between device and data management policies. Unlike defense and intelligence agencies, NASA is an “open organization” founded to share its data with the public, said Adrian Gardner, chief information officer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at the Symantec Government Symposium. Keep reading →

The new computing generation has burst on the federal scene in a big way. The latest manifestation is solicitations coming from two cabinet agencies.

But they remind me of a scene many years ago. I spoke at the retirement party of a federal executive who had briefly worked on a program called seat management. I joked that more people were attending the party than had signed up for seat management, and got a roar of laughter.

“Seat”, as people called it, meant a contractor would supply to federal agencies a PC and all of the required software and services, charging a per-user, per-month fee.

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Seat management, touted as the biggest thing since computers, went over like a lead balloon. But it turns out, the concept might have simply been ahead of its time.

Today, agencies one by one are putting their productivity applications in the cloud. Separately, they are providing mobile devices or letting employees bring their own under BYOD plans.

Marry cloud and BYOD and you have the 21st century version of seat management. The difference today is the seat can be in someone’s car or kitchen, at the beach or in an airplane.

About those two new request proposals demonstrating what is going on: Keep reading →

This is the third in a series of profiles on the 2012 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists. The awards, presented by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, recognize outstanding federal employees whose important, behind-the-scenes work is advancing the health, safety and well-being of Americans and are among the most prestigious honors given to civil servants. This profile features a finalist for the Citizen Services Medal, Livia Marques, director of the People’s Garden Initiative at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

A challenge by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for employees to create gardens at department facilities has blossomed into a community movement involving 798 partner organizations and more than 1,600 “People’s Gardens” located in all 50 states and overseas. Keep reading →

This is one in a regular series exploring how federal agencies are finding and implementing innovative ways to drive efficiency and cut costs.

Once upon a time, farmers drove their horses and carts to the local USDA office to fill out loan paperwork, chat with experts and pick up information. Even 50 years ago, farmers hopped in their pickup trucks for the trip to the USDA’s local farm service agency office. Keep reading →

This is one in a regular series on the latest innovation in mobile apps and mobile technology in the federal government.

From Smokey Bear to “mobile hogs,” the Department of Agriculture is moving at breakneck speed to integrate mobile apps into every aspect of the far-flung and multi-dimensional department. Keep reading →

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel speaks with InformationWeek Government Editor John Foley at Thursday’s event.

Having launched a formal strategy on the concept yesterday, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel offered examples Thursday morning of how shared IT services will free up valuable resources across government agencies. Keep reading →

The past three weeks worth of news reports about GSA‘s lavish convention spending and indiscretions by Secret Service agents–and the inquisitions on Capitol Hill in response–could already fill a few hard drives.

So it always a bit baffling to see how little attention the media–and Congress–give federal agencies and government executives when they do get things right. Keep reading →

This is the second in a series of profiles of innovative leaders in government based on interviews by the authors Paul R. Lawrence and Mark A. Abramson for the book “Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government.” The book highlights the management lessons of 24 political executives during their first two years in the Obama administration.

Historically, a major criticism of government has been that it consists of individual government agencies (often called stove-pipes or silos) which tend not to work very well with other agencies, even those within their own department.

When she arrived at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan found some truth in this criticism of government. Many agencies within USDA viewed themselves as somewhat independent of the Office of the Secretary. Keep reading →

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