Government Login System; A Critical Business.

Website, an ultimate tool to match and keep-up with the ever-growing market. What makes it so special? The architecture? The feel? The Service? Or the ability to take control as per our convenience? Be it a personal website or a government website. Every website demands for security, especially those involving transactions.

Federal Agency’s website is always on the front lines when it comes to deliver services to the public. Majority of American Population go online to seek government services. According to the survey, the Research Center estimated that 82% of the U.S. Internet users search for information and complete a transaction on a government website, including 40% of those via smartphones. So, the utmost important ingredient here is; Security.

What makes a website secure? Yes the Login Portal to authenticate users. But Federal Agencies have their own protocol, therefore individuals who want to access government applications and services generally must create a username and password for each agency site they visit. And agencies maintain their own identity management systems to authenticate users. This approach invites data redundancy: Same user maintains multiple passwords whilst the government maintains multiple systems for managing credentials. Security suffers as well; weak and stolen passwords rank among the top ways an online system can be compromised.

In response, the federal government has been moving toward an identity management approach that will let people use the same credential to conduct business with multiple agencies, thereby creating a common mechanism for transmitting identity information and introducing stronger authentication. “The usability of secure identity solutions is something that the market has been struggling to improve for years,” said Jeremy Grant, senior executive adviser for identity management at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “We’ve had no problem developing ‘secure’ identity technologies, but if people don’t use them, then they really don’t offer much security.”

Since the passage of the E-Government Act of 2002, myriad federal services have emerged online. A 2014 Government Accountability Office report noted that agencies operate more than 11,000 websites. As more people make the Web their default choice for government interactions, the need to provide safe access has become even more important. The sharp rise in the use of mobile devices to access federal websites adds another dimension to the security challenge. The White House’s 2012 Digital Government Strategy states that “policies governing identity and credential management may need to be revised to allow the introduction of new solutions that work better in a mobile world.”

In 2009, the White House published a Cyberspace Policy Review that included the need to create a “cybersecurity-based identity management vision and strategy” on a list of 10 action items. That paper led to the launch in 2011 of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which works with private- and public-sector entities to support the development of interoperable identity credentials. That move set the stage for a cloud-based, federated identity management solution.

A NIST-managed National Program Office coordinates NSTIC activities. The office collaborated with the General Services Administration to draft the requirements for the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange and awarded a contract to SecureKey Technologies in 2013 to create the exchange. FCCX was designed to let people use third-party credentials to access federal services online. In addition to improving the user experience, the governmentwide exchange would help agencies sidestep the cost of credentialing the same person numerous times.

FCCX is now known as Connect.gov and falls under the auspices of GSA. The program allows people to use digital credentials provided by government-approved sign-in partners to confirm their identities when requesting access to online government services. When they log in, users consent to share what Connect.gov describes as a “limited set of personally identifiable information.” Connect.gov then serves as the pipeline for transmitting identity information from the sign-in partner to the agency’s online application.

Editor’s Note: Ideas inspired from;


John, Moore. “How many parties does it take to provide a single government login?– FCW.”

FCW. N.p., 22 May 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.

Who Needs Black Friday When You Can Shop Small?

After Thanksgiving, when the turkey has been consumed and the cranberry sauce devoured, many Americans participate in the tradition of shopping on “Black Friday,” the day following Thanksgiving when popular retailers offer low prices for popular gadgets, toys, textiles, and more. The history of Black Friday dates back to the 1960s and indicates the kickoff to the Holiday shopping season. According to blackfriday.com, “black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” as a historical reference to when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink denoted a loss, and black a profit (www.blackfriday.com). On Black Friday, holiday shoppers are most commonly drawn to the thrill of a purchasing goods at prices that are drastically lower than they are during the rest of the year.

However, Black Friday has been experiencing competition from other initiatives such as Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, that also want a piece of the holiday season shopping pie. Small Business Saturday is an initiative of American Express that began the tradition in 2010 in order to encourage people across the country to support small and local businesses. In fact, Small Business Saturday became official when the United States Senate officially recognized it in 2011, making it an American institution (www.AmericanExpress.com). Indeed, President Obama and other policymakers from coast to coast have voiced their support for Small Business Saturday.

Consumers are encouraged to participate in Small Business Saturday as a way to support small and local businesses that rely on community reciprocity. Moreover, a report published by Bank of America concluded that 91 percent of small business owners said Black Friday has either little or no impact on their business’ generation of revenue (www.entrepreneur.com). Unlike retail giants, such as Target, Best Buy, and Nordstrom, small businesses are unique in that they rely on fewer consumers, select merchandise, personalized experiences, and exclusive promotional offers to foster consumer loyalty, customer satisfaction, and a sense of community.

The infographic below describes the many facets of small and locally owned business and how their impact on local communities enhances overall community wellness.

Indeed, consumers who chose to shop small on Small Business Saturday will be doing themselves a favor by avoiding the madness that is Black Friday. Who wants to battle with other buyers to get a new television or appliance anyway? Although big box retailers may offer more varieties of merchandise, their merchandise is mass produced, whereas small business merchants offer unique gifts, handcrafted jewelry and artisan foods, to name a few. Furthermore, buyers will support their local economies by shopping small as small businesses employ nearly half of all private-sector employees in the United States. In fact, MoneyTalksNews.com reports that opening a big box discount store directly reduces employment by an average of 150 jobs within the county it is located because each employee replaces approximately 1.4 retail workers (www.moneytalksnews.com). By shopping at your neighborhood Mom and Pop shops, you can contribute to their small business success and employee retention.

In short, support small businesses throughout the year and begin your holiday shopping season on a positive and helpful note by taking part in Small Business Saturday, which will take place this year on Saturday, 28 November 2015. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

 

 

 

 

Reverse auction gets GSA the code for $1

As an experiment in micro purchasing, the General Services Administration’s 18F digital services development group set out to test whether it could buy chunks of code – rather than a full application – for less than $3,500.

Using GSA’s Contract-Award Labor Category tool, 18F asked for bids on loading labor category data from the Schedule 70 into CALC. With the reverse auction starting at $3,499, 18F hoped to test the viability of micro purchasing, plus encourage open source solutions from companies new to the government market.

18F got much more — or less – than it bargained for. The winning bid came in at $1.

Brendan Sudol, the $1 bidder, met the requirements and even loaded the data a few days ahead of the deadline. His code had “100 percent test coverage, an A grade from Code Climate, and included some new functionality to boot.”

But why the $1 bid?

“I love reading about the innovation and impact that 18F, USDS and company are having in the government, and it’s made me want to help contribute to the cause,” Sudol told FCW, GCN’s sister site. “Plus, I use open source technology on a daily basis, and saw this as a great opportunity to give back.”

Not everyone was excited by the turn of events, however.

In the project’s Github chatter, other bidders questioned the legality of Sudol’s offer when they saw bids plummet from $1,250 to $1 in a single day. Was it even legal for feds to pay so far below minimum wage? They also questioned the bidding setup, because as it stands, it appears one bidder could log a $3,499 bid, a colluding bidder could log a $1 bid and bidding would cease. The colluding $1 bidder then just has to fail to deliver within the 10-day time limit, and the higher bidder would get the project at the maximum rate.

“It’s legit,” Zvenyach told FCW, responding to the question about minimum wage. “It’s a business not an individual, and the bid is not a labor rate.”

“In some respects, this result was the best possible outcome for the experiment,” Zvenyach wrote. “It proved that some of our core assumptions about how it would work were wrong. But the experiment also validated the core concept that open-source micro purchasing can work, and it’s a thing we should try to do again.”

Throughout the course of the experiment, Zvenyach said 18F saw 16 different bidders jump in on the action, including several woman-owned, minority-owned and service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses. Eight of the bidders, Sudol among them, registered on SAM.gov only after hearing of the experiment.

Sudol, who said he worked with his friend and colleague Andy Chosak to complete the work, noted that this was his first time working for the feds, and he was happy to do it dirt cheap. “This is $1 more than I make from the other little web projects I like to work on in my free time,” Sudol told FCW. “And this one actually is meaningful and helps the community.”

 

Editors Note: Ideas referred from;


Noble, Zach. “18F Hacked Procurement and Got Code for $1.” Web log post.
Https://fcw.com/. N.p., 09 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

The Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of…Anger?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The quote —an excerpt from The Declaration of Independence—paints a rather ideal picture of how everyday Americans influence the United States political system. As an American voter, do you ever ask yourself if your elected and prospective elected leaders of government represent the needs of the average or majority of American citizens? Do you question your happiness with the current state of the American political system? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are not alone; American voters are becoming increasingly angry with the United States political system.

In fact, according to a late October 2015 survey conducted by Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, over sixty percent of Americans are angry because they feel the political system only works to serve the interests of the insiders with money, influence, and power, such as those on Wall Street or in Washington, instead of working to serve and enhance the well-being of everyday people (www.nbcnews.com).

View the full survey here.

Indeed, a majority of the electorate—the body of persons entitled to vote in an election—are angry at the political system regardless of their party, race, educational background, and income level. For instance, when a those surveyed were asked about the extent of their anger, the survey found that 72 percent of men, 67 percent of women, 69 percent of whites, 68 percent of African Americans, 65 percent of Hispanics, 73 percent of college graduates, 67 percent of non-college attendees, 71 percent of those in the lowest income bracket, and 67 percent of those in the highest income bracket are angry at current political institutions.

But why are so many different groups of American voters so dissatisfied? The answer may partially lie in the general voting behavior patterns as well as the longstanding voting rules and protocol by which voters must abide. The infographic below finds that American voters are not actively voting enough, thus denying their voices to be heard. Another example of voter resentment could be due to a lack of voter participation in midterm elections—elections in which representatives are chosen to become members of the United States Congress.

While elected officials may not always hold themselves accountable in serving the interests of the majority, the Obama administration has recently announced the launch of a new program called “the White House Leadership Development Program”, an initiative designed to indoctrinate a new cohort of top career federal managers who will serve to modernize the government. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a diverse group of sixteen highly scrutinized individuals will act to engage more frequently in complex, cross agency challenges to improve government agencies and produce positive outcomes from such challenges (www.govexec.com). These future leaders have undergone a rigorous selection process in which they demonstrated their ability to effectively collaborate, communicate, adapt, perform strategic planning, demonstrate politically awareness, and identify and overcome unconventional challenges. It is important to realize that these future leaders will ultimately be held accountable by voters to foster positive reformations in the American political system.

So, when will elected officials become more accountable to everyday American citizens? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, but there are ways in which the general public and elected officials can instill confidence (or the pursuit of happiness) among American voters. The most obvious way to decrease public discontent is to ensure that qualified voters exercise their constitutional right to vote; keep in mind that one characteristic of a legitimate democratic society is the occurrence of routinely held free and fair elections. After all, democracy is contingent upon the integrity of majority rule and individual rights.