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Intern Season is Here

May 31, 2017

Every summer, the nation’s best and brightest college students flock to Capitol Hill and government offices all around the country to explore careers in public service.  Because internships on the Hill and in high profile government offices are so competitive and demanding, the average intern is not only sharp and capable, but also ambitious and eager to contribute on Day One.  That’s why it’s so important to start your interns off right with a structured onboarding plan, clear expectations and well-defined benchmarks for success.  In this blog, we’ll explore a few strategies that will help your interns contribute in a real way and walk away with highly valuable experience at the end of the summer.

 

1)      Dress Code

Things you take for granted as an experienced professional, like what to wear to work, may not be as obvious to a college-aged intern.  If possible, connect with him/her before the first day about the dress code in your office.  Something as simple as showing up on Day One dressed appropriately can set the tone for a productive experience for you both.  Every office has its own unique culture so don’t be afraid to be specific about the do’s and don’ts.

 

2)      IT Training

With roughly ten short weeks to make an impact, it’s important for interns to get up to speed on your core IT systems as quickly as possible.  One way to get ahead of the game and get your interns working on real tasks right away is to schedule their IQ training now.  We offer a variety of convenient training options including classroom training in our Capitol Hill training center (directions here)webinarseLearning videos and Quick Reference Guides.  Not sure where to begin?  Just ask your IQ Consultant for recommendations.  All online and DC-based sessions are totally free of charge so don’t be shy about loading up your interns’ calendars with IQ training!

 

3)      Social Media Policy

We’ve all seen the consequences of poorly managed, high-profile social media accounts.  It rarely ends well.  If you plan to have your intern help out with social media, make sure your office’s approval/publication policy is crystal clear before they begin posting.  Do your best to develop a dynamic where your interns always feel comfortable asking for feedback and input so you can avoid any social media surprises.

 

4)      Make a Project List

In most offices, there’s no shortage of work to be done and projects to be tackled.  However, it can sometimes be difficult to find time in your busy schedule to clearly define where your intern can help most.  Invest the time up front to work with your whole team and make an “intern project list” so there’s never any doubt about what your interns should be working on.  By establishing clear project goals, milestones, deliverables and due dates both you and your interns will be able to stay focused and have a productive summer together.

De-Mystifying FedRAMP

April 11, 2017

If you work in—or anywhere near—government IT, chances are you’ve heard the term FedRAMP a few times in the last year or two.  Or more likely, you’ve heard the term a few dozen times…this month.  FedRAMP is quickly becoming a buzzword among public sector professionals, particularly those in highly technical or security-centric roles.  In this post, we’re going to try to pull back the curtain and explain, in layman’s terms, what FedRAMP means and why it’s so important.

What is FedRAMP?

FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a government-wide program that acts as a standardized model for security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud-based IT products and services.  In other words, FedRAMP is a government-sanctioned stamp of approval indicating that a cloud service provider has met a specific set of stringent cybersecurity and performance benchmarks.  When a government agency selects a FedRAMP certified (or FedRAMPed) partner, they benefit from the highest possible levels of data protection but also from significant cost savings across the entire enterprise.  Working with a FedRAMPed cloud solution can cut costs by 30-40% and save staff time and energy by eliminating redundant security assessments.  When you see that a potential service provider is FedRAMPed, you can rest assured that they’re serious about keeping your data safe. 
 

Why Does it Matter?

Considering the nature of the work and the senstive information so often involved, it goes without saying that cybersecurity is vital to everday government operations.  It’s also true that faster processing speeds, increased computing elasticity and on-demand cloud-based solutions are becoming more and more attractive to government agencies.  Cybersecurity experts at the NSA, DoD, GSA and in the private sector agree that this migration toward the cloud will continue to grow expontentially in the coming years.  With that in mind, these experts have concluded that a standardized replacement for inconsistent, costly cloud assessment techniques is vital to maintaining a secure government IT infrastructure across the country.  That replacement is FedRAMP.  And for the last several years, government agencies are legally required to select FedRAMPed solutions if they wish to migrate core systems to the cloud.

 

How Does it Work?

Every cloud service provider that seeks FedRAMPed status for its products and services is required to undergo a comprehensive, three-step evaluation process, sometimes spanning a year or more. 

1.       Security Assessment.  The FedRAMP security assessment uses a standardized set of requirements in accordance with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) using a baseline set of NIST 800-53 controls to grant security authorizations to cloud service providers.
 

2.       Leveraging and Authorization.  Government agencies view security authorization packages in the FedRAMP repository and leverage the security authorization packages to grant a security authorization at their own agency for an individual cloud service provider.  This step is known as the Authority to Operate (ATO).
 

3.       Ongoing Assessment & Authorization.  Once an authorization is granted, cloud service providers are subject to a series of stringent, ongoing assessments and authorizations in order to retain FedRAMPed status.

 

How Does Leidos Digital Fit In?

As of April 2017, Leidos Digital Solutions is pleased to offer a new way for government agencies to purchase IQ, our industry leading CRM solution.  IQ FedCloud and IQ GovCloud are now available on a secure, stable and scalable FedRAMP certified cloud platform and can be acquired quickly and easily on our GSA Schedule 70, Contract GS-35F-0636K.  To learn more about IQ, browse our website or contact us with any questions you may have. 

Visit our YouTube channel for a preview of how IQ really works!

In recent days and weeks, the term "town hall" has taken on a new meaning in American politics.  Elected officials from all over the country are facing increasingly vocal constituents during town hall meetings, and in some cases, the crowds' passion and energy has gotten in the way of productive dialog.  Of course, personal engagement with constituents is critical to a productive relationship between the Member and his/her community and traditional town hall meetings are an excellent way to connect.  However, there are many other ways elected officials can forge strong relationships in their states and districts while maintaining control of their message.  Telephone town halls are one of the most affordable, efficient and effective ways to connect personally with constituents.  From the comfort of the office, the Member can conduct live streaming, moderated Q&A sessions broadcast over the phone, his/her website, Facebook, YouTube or all of the above.  Click here to read about other ways to promote engagement during your event. 

Making oneself visible, accessible and accountable is a big part of why personal connection with constituents is important, but what happens after the event is over?  A non-partisan study done by the Congressional Management Foundation found that telephone town halls yield significant increases in constituents' perception of the Member's trustworthiness, accessibility, fairness and approval rating on specific issues:

TRUST

  • Prior to the telephone town hall meeting 38% of constituents trusted the Member to do the right thing "all or most of the time".  
  • After the meeting, 52% of attendees agreed with this statement.

ACCESSIBILITY

  • 82% of constituents who attended a telephone town hall meeting described the Member as "accessible".
  • Only 48% of the control group, who did not attend a meeting, described the Member in this way.

FAIRNESS

  • 82% of participants in the telephone town hall meeting said the Member was "fair".
  • Just 52% of the control group agreed with the statement on fairness.

APPROVAL RATINGS

  • Prior to the telephone town hall meeting only 20% of participants approved of the Member's handling of a specific issue.
  • At the conclusion of the one-hour meeting, the same group reported 58% approval on the exact same issue.

What's a 38-point increase in approval ratings worth to you?  Contact us today to get a quote for your next telephone town hall event!