Federal Drive Interviews — Oct. 19, 2012

Warren Suss of Suss Consulting discusses Sprint's acquisition by Japanese company Softbank. Harl Sanderson, the "mayor of Beale Air Force Base," is honored as m...

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Warren Susspresident, Suss Consulting

For nearly two decades, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint and their predecessor companies have vied for billions in federal telecommunications contracts. For instance, all three do business under the General Services Administration’s Networx Enterprise governmentwide acquisition contract. But now Sprint, the weakest of the three, has been acquired by the Japanese company Softbank. Joining us to discuss what this might mean for federal contracts is long-time telecom consultant Warren Suss of Suss Consulting. Good morning.

Harl Sandersondeputy director of installation support, Beale Air Force Base

One Air Force employee is being honored as the “manager of the year” by the Federal Managers Association. Harl Sanderson, deputy director of installation support at Beale Air Force Base located northeast of San Francisco, has helped his base improve its childcare services, mitigate traffic and generally make life better for residents and workers. No wonder he’s won the award. Wouldn’t you want someone like that where you work?

Roger Bakerchief information officer, Department of Veterans Affairs

Just who benefits from electronic health records? The Defense Department and Veterans Affairs have been working for years to develop a single, integrated record. But it’s not just for use by doctors and other clinicians. Patient-centric is the latest trend in health IT. You might ask, isn’t all medical care patient-centered already?

Ed Scannelltechnology reporter and editor, TechTarget.com

Sure, the iPhone 5 was a big announcement. But rival Microsoft is a week away from the launch of Windows 8. The company says it’s one its most important products ever. Microsoft hopes it will boost the company’s competitiveness in smartphones and tablets, while holding onto supremacy on the desktop. For federal agencies and other large enterprises, switching operating systems is a non-trivial task.

Rob Coenacting director, NITAAC

Some of the most successful and enduring governmentwide acquisition contracts are operated by the National Institutes of Health IT Acquisition and Assessment Center, or NITAAC. Government requirements are changing, and so is NITAAC leadership. The longtime program director, Mary Armstead, just got a promotion. The new acting director of NITAAC is Rob Coen, and he spoke with us yesterday at the AFCEA Health IT Day in Bethesda, Md.


DoD Report

  • The Defense Department said it was stepping up financial education efforts. Brass from Secretary Leon Panetta on down worry that military members are prone to out-of-control student debt. Panetta said the individual financial health of service members is a vital component of military readiness. Plus, high debt can cause someone to lose security clearance. DoD is bringing in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help. The bureau found instances of banks charging more than the legal limit of 6 percent on loans to service members on active duty.
  • Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will nominate Army Gen. David Rodriguez to head U.S. Africa Command. He would replace General Carter Ham, who took over the command last year. Rodriguez has extensive experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Panetta said his experience is needed in the increasingly complicated Africa Command. It includes Libya and Mali, which have lately become hotbeds for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Rodriguez would be the third commander since AFRICOM was created in 2007. The first commander, Gen. William “Kip” Ward, has come under inspector general scrutiny for lavish spending.

Cybersecurity Update

  • The CIA wants to expand its fleet of armed drone aircraft. CIA director David Petraeus is making the plea directly to the White House. The Washington Post reports, if approved, the CIA would get up to 10 new drones. That would bring its fleet to between 40 and 45. Plus it would signal an extension of the CIA’s transformation into a paramilitary force. Petraeus argues that more planes would let the CIA sustain campaigns against terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen while also hunting them down in North Africa. Anonymous officials told the Post, the Pentagon has not opposed the CIA plan.
  • You may not be able to get much information from inside the National Security Agency. But NSA’s vast parking lot, that’s another matter. Computer World reports, a South African software company has assembled a set of tools that can determine personal information about a Twitter user, starting from his or her location. In a conference demonstration, Paterva was able to find the email address, phone number, career, travel and education information about a particular user. In this case, the tweets came from NSA’s Anne Arundel County campus at Fort Meade.

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