Bill to create new cyber agency at DHS to be introduced this week

  • The effort to create a new cyber agency at DHS has taken an important first step. Rep. Mike McCaul’s (R-Texas) goal of elevating the cybersecurity mission of the Homeland Security Department got its first big test this week. McCaul, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is expected to introduce and have the committee mark up on July 26 the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017. The much-anticipated bill would change the name of the National Protection and Programs Directorate to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The bill also would transfer the Federal Protective Service and the Office of Biometrics under this new organization. (House Homeland Security Committee)
  • Congress wants more information from the Veterans Affairs Department about the senior executives it reassigns and how much it spends on employee bonuses. The House Veterans Affairs Committee passes the VA Bonus Transparency Act and the VA Senior Executive Accountability Act. It wants annual reports from VA on both topics. The VA secretary would have to personally approve any SES reassignments. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee have selected 12 defense experts to serve on the Defense Strategy Commission. The commission was created last year by Congress to evaluate the effectiveness of the Defense Department quadrennial defense review. This latest group includes former acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
  • A new report says it’s getting easier for science and technology companies to work with the Defense Department. The Government Accountability Office said DoD is addressing challenges non-traditional companies face when doing business with it. One of the measures that helped is the establishment of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. (Government Accountability Office)
  • One Defense Department agency is fooled into selling surplus military gear to unqualified people. Investigators posing as buyers from a fictitious federal agency obtained 100 controlled items from the Defense Logistics Agency. DLA’s Law Enforcement Support Office is supposed to ensure only qualified law enforcement get their hands on the used gear. Auditors from the Government Accountability Office created a fake agency, complete with website. DLA sold it $1 million worth of guns and other items. (Government Accountability Office)
  • President Donald Trump has picked the new head of the Office of Government Ethics for the time being. Dave Apol will step in as the acting director at OGE. Apol previously served as the ethics office’s general counsel. He replaces former director Walter Shaub, who stepped down in early July. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department’s backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests continues to grow. DHS FOIA officer Jonathan Canton reports a 16 percent increase in the number of received FOIA requests from fiscal 2015 to 2016. The rise added roughly 10,000 more cases to the backlog. Canton said a majority of the requests stem from questions around immigration-related records. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • Pentagon cyber officials explain how they were able to stave off global ransomware attacks. Top officials say U.S. Cyber Command and its military service components were able to inoculate DoD systems against the WannaCry and Petya attacks very quickly — partly because of close intelligence relationships with other nations where the attack was more severe than in the U.S., and because of new authorities that let cyber leaders order immediate fixes to IT networks. Nonetheless, they say the attacks were a major learning experience — and that their defensive measures may not have been as effective against a sophisticated nation state adversary. (Federal News Radio)
  • The State Department’s inspector general said it has no idea how much time or money it takes to process security clearances because of errors in previous reports. State conducts security clearance investigations for its own employees. The department may have lost millions in dollars in reimbursements because it failed to collect payments for investigation work that happened overseas for other agencies. (Department of State Office of Inspector General)

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