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Why Holiday Parties are Good for Growth

Holiday-Party

While holiday parties demand time and effort to execute, they are worth the effort. If you’re feeling particularly swamped, it might be tempting to host a scaled-down event or eliminate the party altogether. But, that isn’t usually the right call. When done well and within budget, holiday parties boost employee morale and set the groundwork to promote your organization’s brand in the new year.

Consider a “Widely Attended Gathering” (WAG):

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Missions that Matter: Hope for the Warriors

Veteran - Hope for the Warriors

At growth[period], we are grateful for our veterans each and every day of the year. We believe that all veterans and their families should have access to the support and resources necessary to ensure they have the ability to live full and rewarding lives. Hope for the Warriors, a four-star Charity Navigator rated nonprofit organization, has just such a mission. We are proud to have worked alongside Hope for the Warriors for more than 10 years in support of its goal of creating opportunities for the veteran community, to include expanding its brand recognition as a first-tier nonprofit, increasing its donor base, and establishing a formal relationship with NASCAR.

The growth[period] team identified a key demographic overlap between the veteran community served by Hope for the Warriors and NASCAR’s constituency and devised a strategy to develop a partnership between the two organizations that ultimately led to a formal agreement. The effects of this partnership were immediate and significant, as Hope for the Warriors reported a three-fold increase in donations in the first year of the partnership alone, along with other valuable and tangible results.

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Creative Solutions, Not Price, Should Drive Government Awards

Cyber-Security

Congress and DOD Address the Roles Cybersecurity and Price Play in Evaluating Defense Contracts

On August 1, 2018, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) - clearly defining the role Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) will play in evaluating cybersecurity or IT contract proposals. By passing the NDAA, Congress publicly backed concerns put forward by industry trade groups; namely, that placing too much value on a proposal’s price creates an environment in which contractors build their bids around LPTA, sometimes at the expense of presenting the best solution. Although fiscal responsibility remains an important consideration when evaluating bids for federal contracts, relying on LPTA as the deciding factor in the decision making process can prevent the government from getting the most value over the duration of a project. After all, no one really wants to fly in a plane built by the lowest bidder!

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Four Impacts Landing Amazon will Have on the Home of HQ2

Amazon Package

Every now and then cities experience events that serve as a clear line of demarcation between “then” and “now.” In the case of Amazon's search for a home for their new HQ2, the 20 finalists’ regional leaderships are actively seeking a major event that will change their area’s landscape for decades to come. As part of the process to attract and win the opportunity to host HQ2, the decision-makers and influencers involved in each region’s bids are putting plenty of thought into preparing for the changes facing their communities should Amazon choose their location as the winner. Fortunately, they all can look at Seattle as a living laboratory and business case to get a good idea of how life in their region is going to be impacted. Based on lessons learned to date from Seattle there are four major areas that most likely be at the forefront of the conversations surrounding the unique changes that will face the region hosting HQ2, as follows:

1. Rapid and Specific Demographic Population Growth

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AFCEA DC DHA Panel Discussion

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​The DC Chapter of AFCEA held a moderated Defense Health Agency panel discussion on April 26, 2016 focusing on innovative solutions for the military health system. 
 
The panelists were:

  • James Craft, Chief Information Officer, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Department of Defense
  • Steven Hernandez, Chief Information Security Officer, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Rose-Marie Nsahlai, Lead IT Security Specialist, Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Joseph Lucky Ronzio, Deputy Chief Health Technology Officer, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs 

The main topics of discussion were in relation to Mobile Health Technology, Interoperability and Cybersecurity.   
 
The discussion surrounding Mobile Health Technology focused on empowering the consumer / patient to be more active and collaborative with their providers when making health and wellness choices, and on embracing sensors and telehealth / telemedicine as alternatives to physician office visits.  The Deputy CHTO of the VA, Dr. Ronzio, argued that both provide a better patient experience, while lowering costs for all parties.  Moving forward, more emphasis will be placed on devices and mobility for both the patient and the provider.  NSA, for example, is working on a "thin" encryption that is specifically for health and wellness devices, so the security layer is a lower overhead for the device.

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DHS

Changes in Defense-Related M&A?

​The Pentagon has been keeping a concerned eye on Defense-related M&A activity since at least 2008, monitoring the U.S. industrial base to ensure that it maintained some level of diversity of suppliers.  The Department of Defense (DoD) has long been concerned with the small number of large firms able to bid on major weapon systems acquisition: four major contractors bid for the F-15, five for the F-16.  But the F-22 and F-35 programs attracted only two bidders each.  Last week, Pentagon leaders began to voice warnings to the industry: Secretary Carter told the press that “it [is] important to avoid excessive consolidation” and that he “[does not] welcome further consolidation among the very large prime contractors.”

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Federal Government Concludes “Cyber Sprint” Initiative

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DHS’ United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT),
developer of EINSEIN 3A intrusion detection and prevention system

In the aftermath of the OPM hack, which compromised the personal information of over 22 million people, and the subsequent resignation of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, the Federal Government undertook a 30 day long initiative to shore up its cybersecurity. Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tony Scott explained that federal-civilian agencies would increase their use of multistep verification, decrease the number of privileged users that have access to sensitive information, and patch known vulnerabilities (Boyd, 2015). After 30 days, all federal agencies will report their progress with respect to implementation of the added security features to OMB and DHS. Since the start of the sprint, CIO Scott announced federal agencies have increased their use of two factor verification by 20% overall with select agencies implementing 100% two factor verification for privileged users. With the assistance of DHS, federal agencies have patched more than 60% of known cyber vulnerabilities since May this year according to DHS Director Jeh Johnson. 

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Wearable Technology & Law Enforcement

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Motorola HC1 Headset Computer

Wearable technology, devices that are worn by users, is a rapidly expanding market which is set to exceed $32 billion by 2019 (IHS, 2014). Commercial wearable technology applications include biometric monitoring, camera and video functions, communication systems, and internet access. Many of these functions could be expanded upon to assist law enforcement by providing greater situational awareness to both officers and dispatchers. Furthermore, the use of body mounted cameras provides an additional means of ensuring accountability among law enforcement personnel, as per the Obama Administration initiative to field more than 50,000 police body cameras nationwide. 

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OPM Hack Demonstrates Need for Internal Defense of Government Networks     

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Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personal Management (OPM) is the victim of a highly intrusive cyber espionage operation conducted by “Deep Panda”, a state backed Chinese hacker group. The personal information of over 4 million current and former government employees dating back to 1985 has been compromised. Chinese hackers managed to circumvent the much vaunted EINSTEIN 3 cyber intrusion monitoring and blocking system (Sternstein, 2015). Once OPM’s network was penetrated, the hackers were easily able to access government records, as OPM’s personnel data was unencrypted (Perera, 2015). The breach was initially discovered by CyTech Services, which ran diagnostic software of OPM’s network in a sales demonstration in April of 2015.

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DOJ Announces New Guidelines for Domestic Law Enforcement Use of UAVs

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Draganflyer X6 small unmanned aerial system (sUAS)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a series of guidelines for the use of unmanned aerial system by domestic law enforcement and federal agencies. While the DOJ report is fully cognizant of the significant potential for UAS within law enforcement, the document states that all UAS use must conform to existing privacy and civil liberty protections: 

“UAS must be operated consistent with the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures and generally requires law enforcement to seek a warrant in circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, Department personnel may never use UAS solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” – DOJ, 2015 

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