Bill to digitize more government services passes House

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  • The House passed a bill looking to push agencies to offer more digital services. The Integrated Digital Experience Act calls for reducing costs and increasing efficiency, and also sets minimum standards for dot-gov websites. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said the IDEA Act will help modernize government services to the public. A Senate version of the bill was introduced over the summer. (Congress.gov)
  • The Senate is encrypting all data stored on its network. The Senate Sergeant at Arms told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) the project started in October. Wyden said this new common-sense policy will better protect lawmakers’ data from nation state attacks. Wyden encouraged additional data security protections to the upper chamber’s network last summer. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
  • Individuals enrolled in the Office of Personnel Management’s free credit monitoring service will not see an interruption, and do not need to take action, while the agency recompetes its current contract. OPM’s existing contract with ID Experts expires at the end of the year, but it will extend those services through June to finish its solicitation and recompete the contract. Victims of OPM’s 2015 breaches who haven’t enrolled but still want to, can under the new contract. (Federal News Network)
  • One of the Department of Health and Human Services’ sub agencies is updating its “confidentiality toolkit” to promote data transparency. The Administration for Children and Families launched the toolkit a few years ago. It aims to promote a culture of data sharing. ACF is also hiring a privacy expert to focus on data issues after it recently hired a data security expert. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Background Investigations Bureau wants industry’s ideas for a new case processing system, to support NBIB’s transition to an entirely new IT network. The agency wants feedback on how it can train, implement and transition to the new National Background Investigation System. An industry day at NBIB’s field office in Boyers, Pennsylvania, is planned for mid-December. (FedBizOpps)
  • The Department of Homeland Security needs to hear from industry on what’s missing in policy and law to further combat the botnet plague impacting the public and private sectors. DHS is working with industry experts to figure out how to make it harder for hackers to find success. Jeanette Manfra, the DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity, said one thing the government can do is stop thinking IT is only in the purview of the CIO. She said everything the government buys is an IT product or service. This means agencies have to be more forceful and specific to ensure these products meet a certain level of cyber standards. DHS also needs to hear from the private sector on what laws or policies are restricting their ability to be more secure.
  • A new strategic plan for intellectual property is out. Andrei Iancu, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director, outlined three goals in the plan for 2018 to 2022. He hopes to optimize the quality and timeliness of both patent and trademark decisions, and have the U.S. lead the way in IP protection and enforcement worldwide. The plan includes detailed steps for improving the productivity of examiners, and enhancing the experience of patent and trademark applicants. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • President Donald Trump will reportedly move forward with asking Congress to establish a Space Force as an independent military branch. POLITICO reports a draft presidential directive said the new Department of the Space Force would be headed by a civilian secretary, and either a four-star general or admiral, who would also serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The force will be charged with protecting U.S. interests in space and the peaceful use of space for all responsible actors, deterring aggression and protection, and projecting power in, from and to space in support of the nation’s interests. (POLITICO)
  • It may cost more for the Navy and Coast Guard to build three new heavy polar icebreakers than originally thought. A new Government Accountability Office report said the $9.8 billion price tag is unreliable because the services did not use best practices in figuring out the range of costs for the program. They plan to award the contract in 2019 and will use the icebreakers for operations in the arctic and Antarctic. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Five people are headed to prison in what prosecutors said was the worst case of illegal dumping of military explosives in the nation’s history. The owner of Explo Systems was sentenced to four years and seven months, and ordered to pay nearly $35 million in restitution. Four other executives will serve terms between two and five years. The Army paid the company to demilitarize more than 1.3 million artillery charges and their components. Instead, prosecutors said the company improperly stashed them at Camp Minden in Louisiana, until they caused a massive explosion in 2012. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army and Labor Department are teaming up to help soldiers get nationally accredited apprenticeships while doing regular training. The expanded United Services Military Apprenticeship program lets soldiers receive nationally recognized journeyman apprenticeships in more than 120 occupations. The training is at no extra cost to the soldiers. (United Services Military Apprenticeship Program)
  • As the president continues searching for a permanent attorney general, one potential name is apparently out of the running. McClatchy reported Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is no longer being considered. This comes after a Miami Herald report said he oversaw a light plea deal for a wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing underage girls. (McClatchyDC)