GSA’s next move; Making acquisition data public.

The General Services Administration is set to open its government-facing Acquisition Gateway to public users in the coming days, allowing contractors and industry acquisition professionals similar access to the aggregated acquisition data that federal acquisition workers now have through the portal.

The gateway is a key to the category management practices that the White House hopes will help the federal government act like large corporations do to get a better handle on the ocean of goods and services it buys every year.

Ten “hallways” offering pricing data on goods and services ranging from IT to office supplies are open on the gateway, said Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in a conference call with reporters following a Jan. 27 online demonstration of the portal. The gateway provides information on pricing, best practices covering acquisition, and models on how to implement those practices, all with an eye to helping federal program officers draft better requirements and federal contracting officers negotiate better contracts.

The portal incorporates user-centric features like “thumbs-up” (or -down) feedback on information; a “solution finder” that lets users enter what they’re looking for and get a refined set of solutions defined by their specific needs; a function that allows federal contracting personnel to “follow” more experienced workers through acquisitions; and the ability to create communities of users with similar challenges.

“A lot of these resources have been created by government,” said Laura Stanton, acting director of strategy management in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Finding them all in one, easily accessible place, however, had been “challenging” before the gateway. GSA has been working on the gateway with federal users since October 2014, and Stanton said federal use has been growing. There are now 5,000 federal acquisition employees enrolled to use the resource. Rung said the goal is to get 10,000 by the end of the year.

In the last few months, Stanton said, GSA has accelerated its efforts to get federal employees to use the portal.

GSA personnel also have been working behind the scenes to manage the information on each hallway, but Rung said GSA will soon name 10 managers responsible for procuring and curating information for all the categories. GSA has not specified and exact date, but John Felleman, the senior innovation specialist overseeing development of the gateway, said the public roll-out will come in a few days. That public access, he said, will allow public contractors to see most of what federal workers do, but shield potentially sensitive information unobtrusively.

Public access, Stanton and Felleman said, is an important stage. Commercial contractors eventually will be able to offer insights for the benefit of federal contracting officers, Felleman said — for instance, information on how to write the most effective and efficient statement of work in a procurement.


Mark, Rockwell. “GSA inches towards making acquisition data public– FCW.”

FCW. N.p., 28 Jan 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

Your Next Job is Hiding in Plain Sight

When it comes to employment and the laws of supply and demand, job seekers will always be hopeful for a large supply of jobs that equally demand their labor. So, for those who are currently searching for work it comes as exciting news that there are currently an abundance of job vacancies around the globe. According to, job vacancies in dozens of countries are plentiful. In the United States alone, there were 5.4 million jobs in in 2015—the highest number of unfilled jobs in 15 years ( Furthermore, countries like Germany, Canada, India and the United Kingdom are attracting more workers than they lose—an indication of a healthy, growing economy.

Although it may be true that there are an abundance of jobs worldwide, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit qualified prospective candidates, especially in technology-related job positions. This mismatch is unfortunate for employers because they are being forced to recruit workers from abroad, where the availability of both experienced and talented workers are more expansive. However, this poses a problem for countries where there are a greater number of citizens leaving than there are citizens entering.

The infographic below explains what qualities job seekers should have in order to be seen as an asset to employers:

Although this infographic does not contain a definitive list of qualities that employers may find desirable, it does highlight some of the most important qualities that a worker should strive to embody as a job seeker. Within the labor market, employers are trying to hire people with familiar qualities and abilities, but this lack of candidate diversity can lead to a decrease in a country’s supply of talent, which can ultimately result in stunted growth and prosperity. While the United States and European countries attract more workers than they lose, countries like China, Israel and Sweden are experiencing just the opposite because employers in these countries largely fail to gain the interest of job seekers and thus, their subsequent relocation.

Therefore, both employers and employees should seek ways to stand out amongst the crowd in ways that are appealing to the masses, yet specific enough to add value to a particular career sector. If countries wish to flourish economically, they should hold on tightly to valuable employees and encourage employers to find ways to improve their desirability to job seeking citizens who may be looking to find employment abroad.

In-memory computing can trigger agencies to accelerate.

A profound shift is underway across government that affects how data is stored, accessed and processed. Federal agencies with mission-critical applications are learning to unshackle themselves from slow, disk-bound databases and embrace the tremendous benefits that come with managing data in-memory.

As agencies deal with aging software applications or seek to launch new public-facing Web portals, ensuring system performance is paramount. Caching data in RAM puts the data closer to the user and the applications that are trying to access it. It’s analogous to a chef who puts his knives and ingredients closer to his prep station rather than in remote pantries. Reducing that distance can make a significant impact on how long it takes the chef to prepare a meal.

For agencies that want to help their applications gain speed, in-memory computing works the same way — and can drastically and cost-effectively boost application performance.

Most traditional applications are constructed so that every time a user wants information from the system’s vast database, the application or website has to read that data by querying the database. The growing number of concurrent users an application might have and the growing amount of data that is likely being added to the database often create a huge and unnecessary bottleneck. Furthermore, the data that comes back from the database typically must be converted into application objects in order for the application to use it.

Addressing that choke point is vital to unlocking application speed. Storing data in a layer above the database — called a cache — allows data access to become exponentially faster and reduces connections to the database. The result is an end to the performance issues plaguing most applications. Using in-memory data is the road to success for agencies when they need to showcase system improvements quickly.

Although the decline in the cost of RAM is clearly attractive to budget-conscious agencies, it’s not the only benefit that appeals to federal IT leaders. Four key reasons stand out when discussing why in-memory computing is making inroads at agencies:

1. Speed and acceleration — perfect for today’s analytical needs. In-memory data is accessed in microseconds, resulting in immediate, near-real-time access to critical data. Imagine retrieving data nearly 100 times faster than is possible from disk-based storage accessed across a network. No matter where data resides — whether in an application, in the cloud or within a remote sensor — federal agencies will no longer be dogged by a lack of fast and efficient movement, and users will no longer need to wait for a report of days-old data. With in-memory computing, federal IT teams can analyze data at a speed that improves its relevancy in decision-making, helping agencies meet ever-shrinking decision windows.

2. Easy to use and easy to add. In-memory computing satisfies the “need it now” demands of users waiting for tabulations and evaluations. There is also no simpler way to store data than in its native format in memory. Most in-memory solutions are no longer database-specific, which makes it easy to add to an agency’s current system and platform. No complex APIs, libraries or interfaces are typically required, and there’s no overhead added by conversion into a relational or columnar format. That is true even for agencies that have custom-developed solutions based on open-source technology. For instance, the Java-based standard for caching, Ehcache, is available in an enterprise version. That means agencies running commercial software or open-source applications can turn on the power of distributed caching by changing just a few lines of configuration. There’s no need to rewrite code or rip up applications.

3. Cost savings and enhanced storage capabilities. With a precipitous drop in the cost of RAM in the past decade, in-memory computing has become a budget-friendly option for federal agencies. When procurement officials can buy a 96 gigabyte server for less than $5,000, in-memory storage of data makes smart fiscal and technical sense. Terabyte servers are sized to harness, in memory, the torrent of data coming from mobile devices, websites, sensors and other sources. An in-memory store can act as a central point of coordination for aggregation, distribution and instant access to big data at memory speeds.

For agencies that still rely on mainframes, in-memory computing holds even more appeal because a large portion of their overall IT budgets is likely dedicated to keeping those mainframes running. That is due in part to the way mainframes are traditionally licensed: by how many millions of instructions per second they perform, which is essentially a measurement of how much of the mainframe is used for processing. The more you use, the more you pay. Open-data initiatives are already pushing such costs upward, but by using in-memory computing to “move” data off their mainframes, agencies can reduce their costs by nearly 80 percent.

4. Higher throughput with real-time processing. In-memory computing significantly lowers system latency, which leads directly to dramatically higher throughput. Agencies that run high-volume transactions can use in-memory data to boost processing capacity without adding computing power. During real-time processing for some applications — such as fraud detection and network monitoring — delays of seconds, even milliseconds, won’t cut it. Acceptable performance requires real-time data access for ultra-fast processing, superior reactive response and proactive planning.

In-memory computing offers unprecedented opportunities for innovation within government. Agencies can transform how they access, analyze and act on data by building new capabilities that directly benefit the mission and help them achieve their goals faster.



Darryn, Graham. “4 ways in-memory computing can bring agencies up to speed– FCW.”

FCW. N.p., 24 Nov 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

Switching the Career Gears to the Millennial Generation

As the American population ages, the workplace is transforming in more ways than one. Those belonging to the baby boomer generation have been working all of their adult lives, but are now either retired or nearing retirement. Among the current generation of working baby boomers, one worry stands out more than most: the idea that retirement will not occur by age 65. Fortunately, baby boomers—those born between the years of 1946 and 1965—need not fret because according to, this is not a reality. Indeed, by age 68, only 16 percent of baby boomers will be working full-time jobs while millennials will make-up 75 percent of the workforce by 2026 (

In preparation for the career world, millennials are obtaining college degrees and rapidly entering the workforce just in time for baby boomers to make their mass exodus out of the workforce. This is good news for both baby boomers and millennials because as baby boomers are reaching retirement, millennials are more than ready to begin building careers and step into vacant leadership positions once held by their parents and grandparents.

While millennials are eager to become career women and men, 24 percent of millennials feel as though their formal education has not prepared them for leadership roles in the workplace, which will be both a challenge and an opportunity for employers. Although employers will face the burden of having to train millennials to become leaders, employers may gain a competitive advantage because companies that can establish millennials as leaders should grow faster and more profitably than those that are more reluctant to place millennials in leadership positions (

As the above infographic shows, the millennial generation is relatively unconventional compared to the generation X and baby boomer generations because millennials have come of age during a period of major technological innovations and economic fluctuations in a globalizing world. As a result, millennials have adopted a set of different behaviors and have experiences unlike their parents. In the workplace, these behaviors and experiences are expected to produce new leadership styles and work environments. In fact, millennials are expected to cultivate greater employee engagement and retention benefits because they place a high value on mentors, leadership, and highly prioritize learning new things, which will make a huge impact in organizational success during this generational career transition (

The millennial generation is the biggest in United States history; boasting a population of 92 million young adults ( If companies want to succeed, it looks as though they will have to put great emphasis on leadership development programs, digital and technological training, employee empowerment, transparency and objectivity in performance criteria, and goal-oriented work.

Baby boomers will not be working forever and organizations will need millennials to dominate their industries by motivating excellence in others to foster and achieve long-term business success. After all, this is the millennial’s world and we are all just living in it.