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Blog Posts by Dr. David A. Bray

Modernizing the FCC Enterprise

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
April 28, 2014

According to the Government Accountability Office, Federal agencies are currently spending over 70% of their Information Technology budgets on maintaining legacy systems. Government-wide, these maintenance costs amount to over $54 billion a year spent on existing legacy systems, and delays needed transitions to newer technologies. Moreover, this cost only captures those legacy processes automated by IT; several paper-based, manual processes exist and result in additional hidden, human-intensive costs that could benefit from modern IT automation.

Upon my arrival to the FCC, I began a series of collaborative discussions with our Chairman, Managing Director, the FCC Bureau and Office Chiefs, and all members of the FCC to listen, learn, and identify ways to modernize the Commission’s IT enterprise. These discussions resulted in a variety of existing, long-standing issues, historically thorny challenges, and strong perspectives about how FCC could improve its IT. After rigorous prioritization, focused foremost on the FCC’s mission, we narrowed our IT modernization focus to seven specific tracks.

In the spirit of openness, I’d like to share our seven tracks as we embark on our journey to modernize the FCC enterprise. These tracks and supporting goals represent our focused efforts to bring the FCC into the 21st century and ensure the Commission has some of best IT in government supporting its mission. Like an iceberg where a majority of the ice is hidden underwater, modernizing manual, human-intensive processes at the FCC will reduce legacy “sunk costs” at the Commission. The result will be a more agile, responsive, IT-enabled FCC enterprise able to work faster and float “above water”. Our workforce will be more effective, efficient in their time and energy, and better able to deliver the highest quality public service to the U.S. public and FCC partners.

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Envisioning the IT Future for FCC Enforcement Field Offices

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
February 4, 2014

During my first 120 days at the FCC, I have enjoyed several opportunities to listen and learn from the different views and perspectives at the FCC. Each Bureau and Office has critical missions and IT needs, and I'd like to share some of what I've learned about the Enforcement Bureau's need for mobility.

Shortly after my arrival at the FCC, the Enforcement Bureau reached out to me with a broad vision for leveraging technology to future-proof the agency's on-scene, investigative capabilities. One of EB's key initiatives in this broad effort was a “mobility strategy” for its Field Offices. This included a discussion of what technologies could help personnel collaborate securely in any time, in any place. “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question” is a quote attributed to e.e. cummings, and our search for what technologies could assist FCC Enforcement Field Offices similarly presented a terrific opportunity to develop a high-level storyboard of the technology solutions for which we are searching.

At the end of this blog are three pictures – each with text captions – that show a brief story of what the FCC is interested in pursuing for the IT future of FCC field office mobility. We hope to use a similar process of storyboards for other FCC endeavors in the future. Developing storyboards helps programmatic and technical teams across FCC reach common understanding. This allows us to dive deeper into additional details on workflows intended for automation as well as identify potential modular, enterprise reuse opportunities across initiatives. We also can share the storyboards with industry consortia for thoughts on what new technologies might help us address our needs.

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On Secure Mobile Health Devices and a Better Future for Us All

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
December 13, 2013

Over the last week, we paused to remember and commemorate the leadership legacy of Nelson Mandela and his inspiring hope for both South Africa and our world. I personally found myself reflecting upon 1998, when I was in Cape Town, South Africa as a volunteer, visiting journalist with several others covering news stories post-apartheid. My focus was on efforts to educate and reduce the spread of HIV in the region.

Photos from Khayelitsha, South Africa in 1998
Photos from Khayelitsha, South Africa in 1998.

As the Truth and Reconciliation Committees started to heal a fragmented nation, South Africa also was facing an influx of HIV cases from sub-Saharan Africa, rising from an estimated 5000 cases in 1994 to over 2.4 million cases in 1998 within a country of roughly 40 million people. Having built a computer simulation of the historical and estimated exponential future spread of HIV, I became impassioned about spreading awareness of the threat  since, unless greater education of HIV occurred, the nation was facing a dire future.

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A Visit with the Fantastic Folks at FCC-Gettysburg

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
November 18, 2013

I recently was fortunate enough to visit the FCC's Gettysburg facility and meet several dedicated, hard-working, creative, and caring folks committed to serving the public. The visit began with a tour of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau's Consumer Center and a demo of a tool they use to follow-up on telephone calls into the center. Part of the tour included a hands-up component where I was able to watch and listen in on a phone call they had received, which was extremely helpful in aiding my understanding of all the different programmatic and IT efforts underway at FCC.

David Bray visit to FCC's Gettysburg Facility

I also met with folks from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) who gave a tour of the "war room" where spectrum auctions are held, showing a mock auction including the software supporting the online bids. After that visit I also met with folks from WTB's Technical Systems and Innovation Division who handle elements of FCC's Universal Licensing System and other important national endeavors. My tour included meeting with advanced technical experts on FCC's land mobile, microwave, and public safety/homeland security telecommunications endeavors. In all instances, I was impressed with the drive and commitment to serving the public that the FCC employees and contractors presented in their actions and in spirit.

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On Cyber Trick-or-T(h)reats

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
October 30, 2013
David Bray

Last week, I started a public conversation on the importance of communication.  This week I want to discuss another side of digital communication:  the spread of viruses, malware, and advanced persistent threats on the internet. The timing of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with Halloween is appropriate, because sometimes when engaging in professional or personal communications on the internet, we also run the risk of cyber tricks-or-threats.

Cyber tricks-or-threats can come from visiting sites that do “drive by” infections, opening malicious file attachments, or downloading supposedly “free” software that compromises our computer’s security.   Don’t forget that in the mobile broadband age, the threats you normally associate with your home or office computer can easily be found on your mobile device:  the same cautionary principles apply.  For those of us who use the internet to engage in public and personal transactions, it is a quality assurance concern that our digital communications on the public infrastructure be kept both secure and private.

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On the Importance of Communication

by Dr. David A. Bray, Chief Information Officer
October 21, 2013
David Bray

Our modern world teems with communication. Most of us have cell phones or smart phones that allow us to be reached 24/7 by almost anyone as we move about the planet. We can access the Internet and catch-up on global and local news, share our thoughts via blogs, wikis, instant messages, or uploaded media files. Digital images, sounds, music, and video all can be accessed through the Internet to communicate ideas, share perspectives, and convey emotions from events both at home and halfway around the world.

I am so excited to join the FCC family as the new CIO. I realize I have much work to do to learn the full breadth and depth of the FCC's existing and historical IT efforts both internally and in collaboration with the public and private sectors. Everyone has been friendly and excited to communicate the Commission’s great endeavors. There is a palpable sense of purpose and mission here at the FCC. I am impressed by the number of people who have been here for fifteen, twenty, and thirty years or more, all who say they are here because of the role the FCC plays in enabling communication to support our national growth, prosperity, security, safety, and freedom.

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