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GCN : October and November 2016
54 GCN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM A government cloud solution at Silicon Valley speed Rather than modify existing systems, the Labor Department rapidly developed a cloud-based platform that integrates grants’ performance and financial systems Nothing motivates like a deadline. Even though the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law in July 2014, the technical and business requirements were not spelled out until May 2016. That left the Labor Department with barely one month to deliver working technology to support the program. Rather than simply modify existing systems, the Employ- ment and Training Admin- istration (ETA) developed a cloud-based platform that integrates systems for track- ing performance and manag- ing the financial aspects of grants: the Workforce Inte- grated Performance System. Before WIPS, there were gaps in the data reported by grantees about the perfor- mance of their employment programs, and the data’s ac- curacy was difficult to verify. WIPS standardizes the re- porting of data, identifies er- rors, and helps stakeholders make data-driven decisions and find ways to improve job-seeking services. WIPS integrates a cloud- based business process management service from Appian that complies with the Federal Risk and Au- thorization Management Program. It has managed components in Amazon Web Services, such as storage, a data warehouse and user- authentication tools. The so- lution allows users to submit legally mandated quarterly reports containing raw pro- gram and performance data for every participant that a particular grantee supports. WIPS validates the data and aggregates it for quarterly reports. According to Peter Le, who runs ETA’s Enterprise Solutions Services Division, the initial release was done in about 70 calendar days, the Labor Department’s fast- est IT development timeline for such a complex system. Besides avoiding the costs of a new data center, the cloud- based solution lets ETA ad- dress utilization spikes with on-demand access to comput- ing power and storage and OPIF replaced a paper-based public file system with a cloud- hosted repository that makes the records more readily available For more than 50 years, broadcasters have kept “public files,” paper records of community-relevant information that people could view if they went to a broadcast station to get them. The On- line Public Inspection File (OPIF) project changed that. In a series of 25 two-week sprints, the Federal Communications Commission replaced the paper-based system with a cloud-hosted repository, which aligns the agency with federal digital and transparency requirements and makes the records more readily available. It also eases the burden on broadcast entities by automatically uploading FCC data. Major TV networks and cable services also automated their processes using FCC’s application programming interfaces. The files include disclosures about political advertisement purchases, sponsorship information for political matters and ownership reports from about 22,000 broadcast service entities nationwide. Because OPIF collects and man- ages files in myriad formats, the FCC developed an in-house enterprise file service based on Aspose, a file formats API provider, that could be used across the portfolio. It also takes advantage of several managed services from Amazon Web Services, plus microservice APIs. Additionally, an automatically scaling cloud infrastructure means the reposi- tory can easily adapt during peak — typi- cally political — periods. “ The entire OPIF application was built using the same set of APIs we published to the public,” Hossein Hashemzadeh, deputy chief of the FCC’s Video Division, told GCN. “Entities can upload docu- ments directly to the website or using the APIs.” The FCC used agile and DevOps processes to build the repository so that it could receive and incorporate constant feedback from stakeholders. The agency also built the project with users in mind, beginning with a Section 508-compli- ant, responsive HTML5 prototype. With OPIF, the FCC has reduced broadcasters’ reporting burden and em- braced the spirit of open, public access. — Stephanie Kanowitz FCC MOVES BROADCASTERS’ DISCLOSURES INTO THE CLOUD 1116gcn_032-055.indd 54 10/6/16 10:25 AM
August and September 2016
January and February 2017