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More than 8.7 million people have signed up for coverage next year under the Obama-era health care law. The program labeled a “disaster” by President Donald Trump has exceeded expectations. HealthCare.gov enrollment reached nearly 95 percent of last year’s level, outperforming analysts projections that somewhere around 1 to 2 million fewer people would sign up for subsidized private coverage through the Affordable Care Act. (Federal News Radio)
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report described the attempt by multiple agencies to improve the government-wide background investigation process as “messy and fractured.” While the report recognized the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) for working all year to find new ways to make the current background investigation process more efficient, Congress has thrown a wrench into the works by authorizing the Pentagon to take back control of security checks for its own people. GAO said NBIB faces dozens of other challenges as it works to reduce the current investigative backlog of nearly 700,000 cases. (Federal News Radio)
Robert Storch was named the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new inspector general and the first presidentially-appointed IG. Until recently, Storch was the deputy inspector general at the Justice Department. The NSA post was vacant for nearly a year after the agency removed George Ellard for allegedly retaliating against a whistleblower. (NSA)
New Defense Department (DoD) contractors have been warned they must comply with new DoD cybersecurity rules. Starting in 2018, vendors must certify that any of their systems that hold or process DoD data fall in line with security controls published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 14 specific areas. They’ll also be required to report any cyber breaches to DoD immediately, and preserve forensic data from those breaches so Defense officials can inspect it. Vendors who don’t comply with the new rules risk losing their DoD contracts. (DoD)
Veterans Affairs Department Secretary David Shulkin said the future of veterans’ health care could require looking beyond VA resources. Shulkin specifically said partnering with the Defense Department, for example, is a good idea. He said the two departments working together could widen what’s available, while offering providers a larger patient pool. He called the idea of working with DoD “common sense.” (Federal News Radio)