The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
In today’s Top Federal Headlines, a House Committee wants to know if the Office of Personnel Management actually paid a cybersecurity company that helped it during 2015 cyber breach.
The Office of Personnel Management may have snubbed a cybersecurity company that helped it during the 2015 data breach, and the House Oversight Committee would like GAO to find out. In a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said OPM used software from CyTech Services last year and never paid them, which he said is a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
A political appointee at the Commerce Department was a bit loose with agency funds. The Department’s inspector general said the employee spent thousands to upgrade his office and stay at luxury hotels while being reimbursed at higher than normal per-diem rates. The Washington Post identified the appointee as Stefan Selig, who left the agency in June. (Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General)
President Obama has appointed a new leader for the Pentagon’s Strategic Command. Gen. John Hyten served for just over two years as the commander of Air Force Space Command. That position made him responsible for most of the military’s space launches and critical missions like the Global Positioning System. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, the promotion would put him in charge of a much broader set of weapons systems — including nuclear deterrents. STRATCOM, for example, also oversees U.S. Cyber Command, although Congress has proposed splitting CYBERCOM into a separate unified command. Hyten would replace Adm. Cecil Haney, who’s set to retire. (Department of Defense)
No one knows how much money the government has spent fighting Freedom of Information Act suits. The Government Accountability Office said at least $1.3 million dollars was spent between 2009 and 2014, but that only covers about half of the suits during that time because the Justice Department doesn’t require its attorneys to keep track of costs for them. GAO is leaving the decision to Congress on whether it’s worth the extra time and money to track money spent fighting FOIA suits. (Government Accountability Office)
Help is coming for agencies making end-of-year IT buys. Tomorrow at 1 p.m., the General Services Administration will hold a one-hour, online Q&A session for people planning to buy desktop and notebook PCs. Agencies can submit the quantities they plan to buy. GSA will aggregate them and conduct a reverse auction, pick vendors and issue a blanket purchase agreement. After that, agencies can log into the acquisition gateway and buy from the BPA. (General Services Administration)
The General Services Administration seems to have found a sweet spot for cloud computing. So far, 23 vendors have qualified to provide cloud computing services under the new special item number on the IT schedule. Mary Davie, GSA’s assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services, said the goal of the SIN was to make it easier for agencies to buy cloud services. The SIN allows for consumption based billing, full service cloud solutions and a better technology refresh cycle.
The Senior Executives Association has reminded career executives about their personnel rights during the presidential transition. SEA updated its transition handbook, saying new political appointees and leaders have guidelines they must follow before asking their career executives to switch positions or for conducting their performance reviews within a 120-day “get acquainted” period. (Senior Executives Association)
The Defense Department is building cybersecurity into acquisition. It plans to release new policy in the next two months to give program managers more detailed direction on systems security engineering so security can make its way into contracts. Systems security engineering uses engineering and management principles to optimize security through all stages of a system lifecycle. (Federal News Radio)
The Census Bureau looks to beef up cybersecurity for the 2020 count. Chief IT security officer Tim Ruland said the agency completed two employees phishing exercises. He’s working with Carnegie Mellon University to improve the agency’s responses to insider threats. Ruland said the challenge is protecting personal information while ensuring easy access to shareable data. (Federal News Radio)