“In all walks of life, our most trusted colleagues and friends have this in common: We can count on them. No matter what the situation or challenge, they will be there for us. Booz Allen Hamilton is trusted in that way. You can count on us.”
- Dr. Ralph W. Shrader
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
Welcome to the Booz Allen company blog. Here you will find ongoing updates to news and information intended to help you learn more about Booz Allen’s business and involvement in the community. Blog authors will vary to provide the best input on the subject at hand. If you would like to receive blog post alerts via email or RSS you can register here.
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As we begin the second decade of the 21st Century, the virtual and interconnected nature of today’s world is forcing us to rethink some of our fundamental assumptions about leadership – in particular, what is it , where and how do we do it, and how do we develop it? One of those foundational assumptions has to do with boundaries. We often assume that acts of ‘leadership’ occur within the context of a particular agency, with everything else treated as part of the external environment – to be scanned, sensed, navigated, manipulated, etc.
How do leaders succeed in an operating environment that is boundary-less, where missions require mastery of complex, interconnected networks of agencies and other organizational and individual stakeholders to succeed? To survive and thrive in this complex, chaotic, fractal environment, Federal agencies require net-centric leaders who can build, sustain, and above all, leverage social and cybernetic networks to take successful collective action across the ‘whole of government’ enterprise – in other words, enterprise leaders.
The US military recognized the need for this kind of leader over 25 years ago, when a few visionaries realized that to effectively fight, and more importantly, win the wars of the next century, our armed forces needed to do so in a far more integrated way. They made ‘jointness’ part of our officer corps’ genetic code. Tragically, that lesson was re-learned by the US Intelligence Community on September 11, 2001 (the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act subsequently mandated a similar, ‘joint’ approach to developing the IC’s civilian leadership) and again during Hurricane Katrina.
While these lessons were all learned in extremis, they may be applied to other Category 5 challenges our Nation faces today, like global economic recovery, healthcare reform, international trade, cyber security, etc. What is their common denominator? These challenges are all ‘inter’ in nature – interagency, intergovernmental, international – and they demandleaders who can leverage an integrated, enterprise-wide effort to be successful.
Michael A. Farber
Executive Vice President
The White House last week released an Executive Order that takes steps to “promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public.” Under the terms of the Open Data Policy released by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, all newly generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, greatly enhancing their accessibility and usefulness, while ensuring privacy and security.
Booz Allen Executive Vice President Michael Farber, who is a leader within the firm’s Strategic Innovation Group, made these observations:
“The Executive Order (EO) on Open Data is another indication of the U.S. Government’s realization of the inherent power in data that can be tapped and analyzed to transform the way federal agencies – and the public – handle, share and use information. And as we pass the one-year milestone of President Obama’s digital government strategy, we should celebrate the progress to-date, but, more importantly, focus on the opportunities to fully adapt and adopt to the roadmap. It’s this approach that brings into sharp focus a new way of thinking about big, diverse volumes of data: as a driver of new insights.
“Disruptive’ change brought about by innovations in data management and technology has already revolutionized the way ordinary Americans communicate and perform everyday transactions. With a truly digital government, agencies can effectively and efficiently manage access to huge and ever-increasing amounts of data to make better decisions and enhance mission success, without breaking budgets.”
One of the joys of being a member of Booz Allen’s Community Partnerships team is seeing firsthand the impact we make in the communities we serve. April 27 was National Rebuilding Day, the day when Rebuilding Together kicks off its efforts to improve the homes of veterans and other deserving families across the country. For almost 25 years they have made it possible for low-income homeowners nationwide to receive critical home repairs and renovations. Rebuilding Together is one of Booz Allen’s largest—and oldest—volunteer projects: we’ve worked with them since 1995. Companies like ours contribute the funds to cover the costs of materials and skilled labor.
Last Saturday, as many as 900 of my Booz Allen colleagues donated their time and efforts in nearly 30 communities across the country to freshen paint, patch roofs, install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors, make homes handicapped accessible, and much more.
I spent part of Saturday afternoon at Versey McLaughlin’s home in the Grant Park neighborhood in NE Washington, DC with volunteers from Booz Allen’s Armed Services Forum. A large framed photo of Versey’s deceased husband, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, is the first thing you see when you enter her home, it is clearly a source of pride for her entire family. But while the image stands strong, the rest of her home was in need of serious repairs. To pay her and her family back for her husband’s dedicated service, a team of Booz Allen volunteers helped fix damages sustained in the 2010 earthquake along with patching walls and painting the house from top to bottom. Versey was moved to tears when meeting Volunteer Captain Joelle Zarcone who greeted her and introduced the other volunteers onsite.
Booz Allen founding partner Jim Allen once advised, “Choose wisely, but participate.” Almost a century later, I take pride in the fact that employee volunteerism is still the heart of our corporate identity. Rebuilding Together is just one of several employee volunteer programs we organize each year. Those programs have made a lasting impact on both the community and the volunteers involved. The transformation Versey’s home underwent after just the first day of repairs was remarkable, I can only imagine the positive impact Rebuilding Together had on all its projects across the country.
In these challenging times, the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), like their counterparts elsewhere, are being subjected to cyber attacks. While strong diplomatic ties, oil wealth and forward-looking leaders have managed to propel the GCC nations onto the global economic stage, these same factors have drawn the unwanted attention of cyber activists who successfully infiltrated critical infrastructure installations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the neighboring gas-rich State of Qatar. The intent for these destructive attacks -- likely motivated by political concerns -- appears, on the surface, to be nothing more than a desire to communicate that ”we can do this” – but will it end there?
The high-profile attacks in 2012 have prompted organizations and governments in the GCC to start looking at cyber security in a whole new light. Arab Gulf Governments, responding to the increasing frequency and severity of cyber intrusions and attacks, have started to shift their cyber preparedness from a reactive stance of ‘if it happens’ to a more proactive enquiry into ‘who, why and what next?’ At the core of this evolution is the important discussion of information sharing. The Middle East and United States have only just begun to examine their laws and regulations to allow for more information sharing, and governments and industry participants have much more work to do before the we strike the right balance between too much and too little.
At a recent conference hosted by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Booz Allen’s Vice Chairman Mike McConnell shed light on the challenges and threats to the Kingdom’s economic stability from cyber attacks. His words of warning to organizations and governments in the Middle East are perfectly captured in this TV interview on Emirates 24/7 on Dubai One.
If all of your data were in a big pile, what would you ask it?
I often tell clients to begin with questions that can get to mission-driving insights. In the case of an organization monitoring for fraud it might be “who is most likely to commit fraud in the future and how?” That predictive analytic causes us to think about modeling fraud behavior instead of just building signatures, or rules, to detect fraudulent patterns. Once we create several behavioral models of fraudulent activity, each potentially with hundreds of variables, we can begin to use data science tradecraft and advanced technology to understand and predict the complex ways fraud is perpetrated.
Applying the scientific method to data —observe, question, hypothesize, test, and analyze –is the foundation of an emerging science to create value from data. The data science team responsible for excavating your insights, so to speak, is critically important to the process.
We’ve found that the “right” data science team is a trio of computer scientists, mathematicians and statisticians, and domain specialists. Together, these experts can not only exploit big data’s seams to discover key pivot points, but apply knowledge of the organization’s mission to convert traditional 0’s and 1’s into “big analytics,” – the game-changing insights buried within data.
It’s only with the right data science team that big analytics become possible – and it’s the domain specialists who build the bridge from the client’s mission to the data. Our approach also calls for something a bit unconventional: a rotation of domain specialists in and out of their data science role. The rationale behind this? The more employees who know how to consume analytics within an organization, the greater the impact.
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