HHS CTO Bryan Sivak Unveils New Initiatives in Open Data

At Open DataFest 2014, Sivak unveiled the department’s most fundamental shifts since 1965.


Health and Human Services CTO Bryan Sivak speaks on open data initiatives at the Health & Human Services Open DataFest.

Whether the conversation is about federal health data or health data housed at the state and local levels, major changes to that information may be on the way, according to Health and Human Services CTO Bryan Sivak.

Speaking Tuesday at the department’s Open DataFest in Sacramento, Calif., Sivak called attention to major changes on the horizon for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He also called on California officials to join the growing movement of open data in health care, an industry he estimated at $2.8 trillion per year and roughly 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

“We’re actually going through one of the most fundamental shifts in our history since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965,” Sivak said, referring to big data’s impact on national health care.

For the first time, he said, insights from big data are offering actionable and innovative solutions to health care by illuminating inefficiencies in how health-care providers serve patients, and by providing an easier way for patients to understand their health-care needs.

As an example, he pointed to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) releasing inpatient and outpatient pricing data, a move that spotlighted thousands of dollars in overpriced procedures. He also highlighted health data initiatives such as Blue Button Plus, which offers a platform for downloadable health data for patients.

Sivak, often called an “Entrepreneur in Residence” for his innovative aims, said that for the past three years, an open data initiative has been underway at HHS to liberate data for more practical uses. Going forward, he said the agency is ramping up this effort through a new Open Data Execution Plan.

Among the plan’s objectives are significant changes in the way HHS opens up its data; the agency will be required to prioritize data offered to the public based on its value and usability. The plan is also attached to a policy-making arm, which Sivak said will ensure open data supports government transparency.

Fleshing out one of these new policies, he explained, HHS intends to roll out a new research requirement. This requirement would mandate that all of its departments publish research data on an expedited timeline after research has been completed — if the funding for the project is above a certain dollar amount. While this policy has been implemented by other agencies, Sivak said it has not been a universal requirement for all HHS departments.

“The idea here is that if we can publish all of this research we’ve paid for and its data, this will obviously speed up the ability for people to access that information and hopefully provide new insights in rapid fashion,” Sivak said.

Reducing impediments to open data is another focus HHS has on tap for 2014 that could translate into major shifts in health care. In his presentation, Sivak mentioned what the CMS has called its new Virtual Research Data Center, a terminal HHS and CMS have collaboratively introduced that offers secure and large volume data access to approved users at greatly reduced costs.

This is important, Sivak noted, because the CMS data behind that terminal is a virtual holy grail of the nation’s health-care data — data that could be used to literally revolutionize the way health care operates if put in the right hands.

“We’re really looking for disruptors,” he said, “both inside the organization and outside the organization.”

by Jason Shueh, Government Technology / January 22, 2014

Federal Telework Surge Could Save $14 Billion Annually


The federal government could save roughly $14 billion annually if employees who are both interested and eligible to telework do so twice a week on average, according to new estimates.
Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network on Wednesday released an update to its annual forecast for government wide telework savings. The updated forecast reflects data in the 2013 telework status report released by the Office of Personnel Management last month, and indicates potential savings of nearly $14 billion per year and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to planting 18 million trees.
Those figures were calculated using GWA’s Federal Telework Savings Calculator, which, based on OPM data, showed that if federal employees both interested (87 percent) and eligible (47 percent) for telework did so about twice per week, annual savings could total nearly $16,000 per teleworker.
The calculator estimates telework savings based on a set of assumptions about the impact of telework on real estate, absenteeism, turnover, productivity, transit subsidies, continuity of operations and health care.
“Even existing levels of telework in government can yield savings,” said Kate Lister, president of GWA and lead author on the report. “If effectively implemented in concert with HR, IT and real estate and COOP strategies, the savings from the 8 percent (169,000) of federal employees who telework regularly could total over $1.7 billion a year.”
Still, while many reports have made a solid case for significant cost savings for agencies that expand telework, many managers and employees are still resistant to the concept. OPM’s status report showed that while 47 percent of feds in September 2012 had been notified of their eligibility to telework, just 21 percent of those eligible did so that month.
In fact, a Wired Workplace post last month that questioned why more feds are not teleworking yielded a number of comments, a majority of which pointed to managerial resistance and inadequate technology as the leading barriers to more widespread telework adoption. To be fair, some feds said they simply choose not to telework, mostly out of the desire to keep work and home life separate.
“Bottom line: Why aren’t more employees’ teleworking? Because management and supervisors will not allow it just because it is available,” one commenter noted. “ Too many micro-managers in the government. Those that abuse it, and it’s obvious to management, should not be allowed, but stop withholding from those who prove themselves.”
Do these updated figures on federal telework savings have the potential to change the mind of your agency leadership or supervisor? What can government do to at least inch closer to that potential $14 billion in savings?

Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture An Automated, Application-Aware Foundation for the Modern Enterprise

The Challenge

Enterprises have seen massive change over the last decade, but one thing has remained consistent: the enterprise network. Even as your network devices have become faster, more powerful, and more intelligent, the fundamental architecture of the network – and the way you provision and operate it – has stayed largely the same. Now, a series of sweeping trends is placing new requirements on the tried-and-true enterprise network model. IT is more relevant than ever before in addressing these trends:

  • Bring your own device: The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is reshaping the face of enterprise computing, introducing new mobile devices into the business environment that are owned by the user rather than the enterprise. BYOD users are accessing enterprise critical applications being served from the cloud on their devices and are demanding that the network and IT accommodate these new requirements on both wired and wireless networks. BYOD increases network complexity and raises challenges in managing access and assuring security and wired/wireless consistency.
  • Cloud adoption: Enterprises are evolving to a cloud-based infrastructure model, reducing the overall IT footprint by consolidating and virtualizing the data center. This includes implementing internal private clouds, adopting external public cloud services, and linking these resources over the network to deliver hybrid cloud services. Cloud capabilities will increase pressure to make your applications – and the network delivering them – more flexible, elastic, and scalable.
  • X-as-a-service migration: Enterprise applications are migrating to cloud-based delivery models, including software as a service (SaaS). This shift places new demands on the network infrastructure that delivers your applications and the way this infrastructure is managed. As XaaS services, including Salesforce and Cisco® WebEx® as examples, play a more important role in your business, you need a network that is “application aware” and capable of understanding data use, traffic, and prioritization in order to deliver cloud-based XaaS services to enterprise users anywhere and on any device with reliability, security, and great user experience.

Together, these trends introduce a number of new challenges for the enterprise IT departments. These include:

  • Growing complexity: Increasing network provisioning and configuration complexity impedes your ability to quickly respond to changing requirements, market trends, and customer demands through configuration, provisioning, and maintenance of the network.
  • Shrinking IT budgets: By moving to cloud-based models, lines of business are spending more on cloud providers than on their own IT. This affects IT budgets while placing increasing demands on the IT network. With shrinking resources, you need network capabilities that more readily accommodate cloud migration and support services in a more programmable, scalable, and on-demand manner .
  • Lack of visibility: As enterprise lines of business adopt more external cloud-based applications, IT struggles to retain the granular detail and control necessary to manage and operate them optimally. These public cloud applications can have a significant effect on the performance of your WAN, LAN, and wireless environment, problems for which IT will be held accountable. But without visibility into these applications, how can you support them effectively?
  • Business agility: Your ability to provide a compelling user experience is limited by the intelligence in your network. The network has become central to your ability to innovate. However, you might not have the network agility necessary to become an active force in rolling out new applications, services, and innovation to rapidly respond to business changes.

Solution: Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture

The Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) is Cisco’s overarching vision to bring more openness and programmability to all networks – across service providers, data centers, and enterprises. Now, you can begin making that vision a reality across campus and branch, WAN and LAN, and in both wired and wireless environments with the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture.

The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture transforms IT through an open and programmable platform for network services that brings networks and applications closer together. It creates a “feedback loop” between the network infrastructure and the applications running on top of it, allowing applications to access network intelligence at multiple levels and the network to be aware of the applications running on top of it. The Cisco ONE Enterprise Network Architecture goes beyond SDN by providing open APIs and programmability for deep access to network resources across the wider enterprise.

Combined with open and standard APIs, this architecture enables a rich ecosystem of third-party applications. With a high degree of programmatic access to your network, you can accelerate the deployment of enterprise services and applications. At the same time, these capabilities unlock new business opportunities by enabling sophisticated connected mobile experiences (for example, advanced location-based services), diverse cloud services, and user- developed applications, allowing enterprises to respond quickly to new business opportunities with faster time to market.

Built with the most comprehensive and best-in-class switching, routing, mobility, and security portfolio in the industry, the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provides a comprehensive portfolio for programmable, application-aware enterprise networks. At the same time, its openness and support for existing Cisco network infrastructure protect your network investments.
The Cisco ONE Enterprise Network Architecture consists of three integrated layers (Figure 1):

  • The Network Element Layer, which encompasses the industry’s broadest portfolio of devices, application- specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and Cisco IOS® Software across routing, switching, and mobility and provides programmatic access to the entire network through APIs
  • The Network Control Layer, which abstracts away network infrastructure elements from network applications and provides automated provisioning and policy control
  • The Network Application Layer, which consists of network-aware applications, developed by Cisco and third parties, that communicate with network infrastructure and services through the Network Control Layer in real time


Figure 1.               Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture

Network Element Layer

Integration with most of today’s networks requires device-by-device configuration and provisioning, making it harder to deploy new applications and integrate cloud services. The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture builds upon a common software data plane and ASIC data plane across multiple devices in the portfolio to provide a platform for enterprise wide automation and programmability.

Cisco brings together the industry’s broadest portfolio of enterprise routing, switching, wireless, and security devices and software. These infrastructure solutions feature programmable ASICs, a service-centric operating system, and open APIs to capture and export real-time network state and intelligence to higher layers of the network architecture. With these capabilities, you gain:

  • A comprehensive view of your infrastructure across routing, switching, mobility, and security: This architecture enables automated configuration and provisioning across all network segments, accelerates deployments, and simplifies change management of services and applications.
  • Deeper network intelligence through Cisco APIs and ASICs: Now you can access rich network information to enable innovative new third-party applications.

Maximum flexibility with support for three APIs: These include:

  • Cisco ONE Platform Kit (onePK), which lets you perform advanced provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting across enterprise, data center, and service provider platforms using a common API
  • OpenFlow, a standards-based protocol that allows you to employ advanced network orchestration and automation, supporting third-party network controllers and applications
  • CLI to support legacy device provisioning and configuration methods
  • Investment protection: The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture supports orchestration and automation to new Cisco devices as well as the existing installed base, providing deep investment protection.

Network Control Layer

Today’s networks do not provide end-to-end visibility into network analytics data, making it difficult for IT to support external cloud services and assure the user experience that users expect. The need to provision applications and services separately for each type of network device – branch router, firewall, wireless LAN controller, and so on – also makes new service and application deployments a slow and complex process.

The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provides a much more efficient approach. It features an intelligent Network Control Layer that links all network elements with the applications that need to communicate with them and facilitates the exchange of real-time network data. As a result, you can provision network services and policies automatically across all of your network devices, accelerate deployments, and enable advanced applications.

At the heart of The Control Layer is the Cisco network controller, which provides the bridge between open and programmable network elements and the applications that communicate with them. The controller maintains a real- time database of all network elements. Through APIs (Cisco onePK, OpenFlow, or CLI), it provides orchestration and automated provisioning of the entire end-to-end infrastructure.

These capabilities help you scale up services and applications more quickly and provision the network in a simpler and more automated way. They also allow you to respond more quickly to the needs of your lines of business, so they don’t need to bypass IT departments when deploying cloud applications for business growth. The Network Control Layer provides:

  • Broad openness: The Cisco network controller is OpenDaylight based and provides standards-based northbound and southbound APIs (RESTful, OSGI, OpenFlow).
  • End-to-end automation: The Network Control Layer abstracts individual network elements and enables end-to-end, zero-touch provisioning of services and applications. For example, the Cisco network controller accelerates the deployment of applications and services – QoS, access control lists (ACLs), policy changes, security and mobile services, and so on – across your environment.
  • Broad and deep networkwide analytics: The Network Control Layer provides rich network information and analytics across LAN and WAN, wired and wireless, users and applications, allowing you to optimize services and support new applications and business models.
  • Flexibility and investment protection: Like new Cisco network devices, the Cisco network controller supports onePK, OpenFlow, and CLI to support your existing infrastructure both today and as you evolve and grow.

Network Application Layer

In the past, a reliance on proprietary APIs meant that many enterprises were locked into siloed integration processes when rolling out new network applications. The need to deploy applications and collect ongoing analytics information on a per-device basis for each type of network devices made these tasks slow and complex.

The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture enables a more efficient and flexible network applications, providing open APIs to simplify operations and accelerate innovation. Network-aware applications (developed by Cisco or third parties) use these APIs to draw on the combined intelligence of Cisco network elements and Network Control Layer orchestration capabilities to communicate and interact with the infrastructure in real time. Whether you use Cisco applications such as Cisco Prime™ or third-party network management applications, the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provides the network intelligence these applications need to efficiently manage and continually optimize the network.

The Network Application Layer provides:

  • An open application ecosystem that includes innovative network applications from Cisco and an ecosystem of third-party developers. This openness lowers risks of integration and deployment and operating costs and allows you to rapidly deploy innovative services and applications.
  • A broad set of applications across all of the major areas that matter to enterprises, including cloud, mobility, security, and more. This provides a platform for innovation and faster, simpler service deployment.
  • Network analytics that are available to all applications. Drawing on this real-time network intelligence, you can continually optimize the network for the applications running on it and vice versa.

Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture Advantages

The combined capabilities of the Network, Control, and Application Layers of the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provide several important benefits. They unlock unprecedented innovation and simplify your network operations, while protecting your network investments.

With the ability to interact with network elements and The Network Control Layer using open network APIs, detailed network information becomes available to Cisco and third-party developers to create innovative network applications. This unlocks a world of possibilities to employ rich, detailed, real-time information about the network infrastructure to optimize services, gain valuable analytics, and support new business models.

For example, with real-time network state and intelligence information across the wired and wireless network, you can support a variety of advanced location-based applications and connected mobile experiences. These can include personalized, interactive digital maps of your venue for customers and guests, location-specific communications and promotions, and much more.
Simplicity and Agility

The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture simplifies provisioning and configuration, reduces complexity and risk, and makes it much faster and easier to provision or change network services. For example, if you want to institute a new QoS policy today to make sure live videoconferencing traffic always has the highest priority, you currently have to configure that on a device-by-device basis. With the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture, you can define that policy once, and the Cisco controller propagates that change across the entire end-to-end network, communicating with every wired and wireless network element to effect that policy change, from branch routers all the way to the data center.

These capabilities also simplify bandwidth utilization management and quality of service as you migrate to more complex private/public/hybrid cloud environments. The intelligent Network Control Layer and network infrastructure elements work together to automate the provisioning of network resources and configuration to support cloud- based applications and assure the applications have the bandwidth and performance they need.
Investment Protection

Even as you take advantage of the new generation of Cisco network solutions and new Cisco APIs, you can continue to use the network infrastructure you have in place today. In addition to supporting Cisco one PK API to enable new specific Cisco capabilities, the Network Control Layer also supports standardized Open Flow and CLI, so it can communicate and interact with your installed Cisco equipment. This investment protection holds true as you continue to evolve your network. As you add new network capacity, you can continue to use the same network and Network Control Layer intelligence to automate configuration and provisioning of services and applications.

Enterprise networks are more complex than ever before, and consumers of network services have never been more demanding. Expect your enterprise lines of business to continue adopting more SaaS applications, your users to bring new mobile devices into the environment, and the migration to cloud to continue to blur the lines between internally and externally delivered services. These shifts are imposing new requirements on enterprise networks and making them more complex to operate. To stay ahead of these enterprise trends, you need an adaptable and programmable network platform.

The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provides the open, programmable, and application-aware foundation you need for today’s mobile and cloud-connected world. By providing a platform for network infrastructure and applications to communicate with each other in real time, IT can automate and simplify today’s complex and time-consuming deployment, operation, and management tasks. IT becomes more relevant in unlocking a new generation of innovative network applications and services.

To learn more, visit http://www.cisco.com/go/enterprise.

Time to Get Ready for War in the Robotic Age


The United States military’s dominance in conventional warfare is virtually unparalleled in history. But defense planners are now confronted by a rapidly approaching future in which the technologies behind that superiority – guided munitions, sensors and networks – have proliferated widely and are employed by both state and none-state actors. However, that shift is just a predicate challenge to a potentially deeper revolution afoot — an entirely new war-fighting regime in which unmanned and autonomous systems will play a central role. The U.S. must begin preparing now for this not-so-distant future. The U.S. must prepare for war in the robotic age.

Unmanned systems are familiar to the U.S. military, which has employed them in extensive and sometimes dramatic fashion during the last decade. But these largely remotely piloted air and ground vehicles will soon be replaced by increasingly autonomous systems operating in all domains and across the full range of military operations. These systems will offer tremendous operational advantages and, because they can be built to take greater risk than manned systems, can be made cheap, expendable and numerous.

Unlike the technological advances of the Cold War, like stealth, advanced sensors and the global positioning system, the movement toward the robotic age is not being led by America’s military-industrial complex. While defense companies are developing advanced, stealthy drones and protected communications, commercial companies producing consumer goods and business-to-business services are driving the information revolution. Advanced computing, “big data,” autonomy, artificial intelligence, neural networks, miniaturization, additive manufacturing and high-density power storage are all being driven by the commercial sector. These technologies and the advanced robotic systems they enable will therefore be available to potential adversaries, state and non-state alike. From Hezbollah’s use of rudimentary drones to enter Israeli airspace, to China’s use of unmanned aircraft near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, the strategic and operational value of robotic systems virtually ensures their wide proliferation.

The robotics revolution will happen. Whether U.S. defense policymakers choose to invest in it and compete for leadership in the emerging regime is an open question.

We must begin now preparing for a world of widely proliferated military robotics and the operational, strategy and policy challenges they will bring. While many drones today are remotely operated, future systems will be largely autonomous, allowing human operators to control several drones or perhaps even large swarms of them at a time. In that fully-realized, robotic environment, mass once again becomes dominant. Cost-exchange ratios and salvo density will become more important than expensive, “baroque” multi-mission platforms. With military power decoupling from traditional drivers of power – like gross domestic product or population size – small technologically-advanced states or even non-state actors could eventually field robotic systems at a size and scale that could radically reshape military competitions in key regions.

Networked autonomous systems will be capable of faster, more coordinated maneuver than possible with manned systems, raising challenging issues about the balance of autonomy and human control. Unmanned systems may reduce the threshold for use of force, with attendant challenges in crisis stability, war powers and civil-military relations. Autonomous weapons could have profound advantages on the battlefield, but could spark an accidental war.

The U.S. defense community needs to begin exploring new concepts of operation, red and blue approaches, cost-imposing strategies and countermeasures. Advances in materials science, cyber, electric weapons and other technologies will have profound consequences for how this new regime emerges, but the most important factors will be the doctrine, training, and organizational structures needed to exploit these new capabilities.

These technological innovations will not make war cheap, easy or bloodless. Indeed, a world of widely proliferated unmanned and autonomous systems will be extremely dangerous for U.S. forces. Information age warfare will not ensure we can peer through the fog of war. Rather, networks and human controllers will be overwhelmed with the deluge of data from unmanned systems and sensors, and sorting the signal from the noise will be increasingly difficult. Units will have to fight for information without information. Commanders will need to be adaptable and flexible enough to operate with massive bandwidth or no connectivity at all. Command-and-control networks will need to be resilient against cyber intrusion and able to continue operation in the face of uncertainty and false data. Future conflicts may begin and accelerate quickly, but they may not end so quickly, and nothing about them is likely to be easy.

The Center for a New American Security has launched a new, multi-year initiative to explore these and other issues about how emerging technologies will shape the future of warfare. Dubbed “20YY” to avoid needless debates about when this regime will come to fruition, we aim to build a community of interest that will deliver actionable, practical recommendations to stakeholders today. U.S. and allied defense leaders will need to begin planning now if we are to succeed in meeting the challenges to come.

Defense One January 26, 2014

About the Authors

Shawn Brimley is the vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security. He served in the first Obama administration at the White House and the Pentagon, where he was the lead drafter for the 2010 QDR.   Paul Scharre is a fellow and director of the 20YY Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).