GSA hires Ad Hoc, Fearless to upgrade search.gov portal

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  • After more than 12 years, the government’s main search portal is getting a facelift. The General Services Administration said it has hired the web developer Fearless and the digital services agency Ad Hoc to upgrade the Search.gov platformSearch.gov is both a portal for searching information across all federal agencies, and also a tool that is embedded to enable search and provide analytics on nearly 2,000 agency websites.The two agencies are also partnering under a contract with the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services to work on Blue Button, which will allow Medicare patients to view and download health records. (Technically Baltimore)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) said it wants to make sure agencies understand the added challenges of cybersecurity for internet of things. NIST is producing a new guidance document on the subject. A draft of the proposal opened for public comments last week, and will remain open for 30 days. James St. Pierre, deputy director of NIST’s IT laboratory, said it’s the first in a series of documents that will consider cybersecurity alongside privacy. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General said the agency was unaware that incident tickets handled by help desk technicians contained employees’ personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers, home addresses and Thift Savings Plan account information. Employees and contractors could view this data through the agency’s incident tracking system. The agency’s Office of Inspector General said such exposure could lead to identity theft.   (EPA)
  • Homeland Security Department (DHS) Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa said her procurement innovation lab will be piloting a new procurement strategy roadmap. The plan will involve a questionnaire that will get key stakeholders involved in the procurement process before an acquisition plan is written. Correa said this process has already been used successfully to speed up procurements, such as with DHS’ border wall prototypes. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army said it is considering putting its cyber soldiers through a Title 10 cyber-operations course and then determining what soldiers have the skills to go on to higher training. The consideration comes after the service found about half of its cyber soldiers in the National Security Agency’s remote interactive operating training program were failing out. (Federal News Radio)
  • A dispute with Homeland Security (DHS) is preventing the Defense Department from restarting a key recruiting program for immigrant servicemembers. Federal officials told the Associated Press the Pentagon has been looking to restart the program, called Military Accessions Vital to National Security, especially for immigrants with critical medical and foreign language skills. But even after beefing up security screening procedures, the Pentagon was told by DHS that troops could be deported because of stricter Trump Administration immigration policies. In past years, DHS has been willing to extend those members’ temporary or student visas while they were serving in the military. The Pentagon has used the MAVNI program to recruit roughly 10,000 servicemembers over the past decade before it was temporarily halted over security concerns in 2016. (Associated Press)
  • President Trump on Friday signed into law a spending bill that will provide full-year appropriations for the departments of Defense, Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. It also includes a continuing resolution providing funding at fiscal 2018 levels through Dec. 7 for agencies that have not yet received regular appropriations. It does include $1.6 billion for President Trump’s southern border wall, but that’s significantly less than the $5 billion proposed by the White House.  What the spending bill doesn’t provide is significant funding for President Trump’s southern border wall. He will now push for it in the lame-duck session of Congress, as the Homeland Security Department is one of the agencies that will be operating on a continuing resolution.
  • Negotiations over a pay raise for federal civilian employees have stalled. The Senate proposed and passed a 1.9 percent proposal, but the House hasn’t agreed — and won’t return from recess until Nov. 13. A House Democratic aide said lawmakers may not know the status of federal pay until after the current continuing resolution runs dry on December 7. (Federal News Radio)
  • Ten DC-area members of the House have joined calls for the Justice Department’s Inspector General to review the decision to keep the FBI headquarters in the nation’s capital. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va), Mark Warner (D-Va), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) have already called on the IG to investigate. Last month, the General Services Administration IG found plans to keep the FBI in DC didn’t fully consider the costs. The IG also claimed GSA Administrator Emily Murphy omitted key details in her testimony to Congress about the White House’s involvement in the decision. (Democratic Whip)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) is struggling to pay community providers on time. It also said VA  is discouraging those providers from participating in the VA Choice Program. GAO said VA’s third party administrators take anywhere from one to seven weeks to pay community providers’ claims. Community providers are a key part of VA’s Choice Program, and are expected to play an important role under VA’s consolidated community care program under the MISSION Act. (GAO)

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