Nextgov's Critical Update explores the future of government technology. Each episode, we dive into how the government is using the latest tech and more importantly, you’ll hear from some of the people who are trying to make change possible.
NASA’s Big Plans For the Moon and Beyond
NASA’s iconic Apollo program was about landing humans safely on the moon and returning them back to Earth. The agency’s contemporary missions—like Artemis, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon—are focused on one thing: going beyond. This episode explores what those forthcoming missions will entail, the evolution of commercial companies’ roles in NASA’s missions, what water ice on the moon could mean for the future of our journeys deeper into the solar system—and more.
Why a Government Vulnerability Disclosure Program Is a Big Deal
Can federal agencies and hackers work together to improve security? Vulnerability disclosure programs—a path for security researchers to report bugs and issues—are old hat to the tech industry but would be new ground for most of the U.S. federal government. Nextgov spoke to some seasoned vulnerability disclosure coordinators, and Rep. Jim Langevin, to get a deeper understanding of what’s behind CISA's pending policy and give implementers a glimpse of what lies in store.
GSA's Centers of Excellence Program Evolves
How does an agency know where to start modernizing its outdated systems? That’s one of the things that the Centers of Excellence program can help agencies figure out. The CoE, which operates out of the GSA and is backed by Jared Kushner and the Office of American Innovation, works with customer agencies on their needs and matches them with vendors. The program started out working with agencies one at a time, but in less than three years, it sped up, staffed up and spread out across government.
Reinventing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s mission is no small feat: The agency maps and models activity on Earth from the sea to space to support combat missions and disaster response. NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp discusses the agency’s recently unveiled 2025 priorities, where technology and partnerships fit in, and how the coronavirus helped the agency rethink its operations.
How Veterans Shaped a Coronavirus Chatbot
“What do you need help with today?” That’s how the Veterans Affairs Department’s first chatbot starts a conversation with a user. The department launched the bot to help vets navigate health care and benefits during a surge of coronavirus-related inquiries. CTO Charles Worthington and Presidential Innovation Fellow Dr. Kaeli Yuen discuss creating the bot with vet input and under an intense time crunch.
COVID-19 Challenges Test Veterans Affairs' Customer Experience Office
As the coronavirus interrupted the daily lives of millions of Americans and shuttered the offices of most federal agencies, the Veterans Affairs Department relied on technology to help meet the moment. Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer Barbara Morton explains how her office is using data, customer experience tools, technology and engagement to help VA—and the veterans the agency services—meet new challenges.