IG: Still more OPM can do to improve cybersecurity standards

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  • The Office of Personnel Management and its inspector general are still locked in battle over OPM’s progress in improving the agency’s cybersecurity controls. The IG said OPM has improved its security posture, but six of 54 OPM systems still lack two-factor authentication, and rely on unsecure user passwords. The IG said the agency’s leadership has yet to give its chief information officer adequate resources to comply with security recommendations. It also said OPM hasn’t historically valued the proper role of a federal CIO. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • Four agencies fall well short of giving their CIOs total budget authority. The departments of Justice, Energy, Treasury and Health and Human Services fail to meet the eight requirements to give their CIOs more IT budget oversight under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA. The Government Accountability Office finds in a new report released yesterday that those four agencies met or partially met six of the eight requirements. Justice was most successful, fulling meeting five of eight and partially meeting two more. Energy and HHS met only one of the criteria and partially met five others. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Federal Salary Council will issue a range of opinions to the president’s pay agent about how it might review and compare federal pay with the private sector. The council’s members say the current comparison model is flawed, and support possibly comparing pay, and benefits with the private sector, while also adding more human capital data to the mix. Federal employee unions say the current methodology shouldn’t be changed. (Federal News Network)
  • OPM and the Federal Salary Council are confident employees in Norfolk, Virginia, and Burlington, Vermont will see locality pay in time for their first pay check in January 2019. The council also approved another locality pay area recommending Des Moines, Iowa get its own locality pay designation as well. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration may have a huge opportunity to drive down the inventory of leases it manages over the course of the next five years when about 4,000 agency leases will expire. Those lease agreements add up to about $3 billion in annual rent payments for more than 100 million square feet of leased federal real property. Dan Mathews, the commissioner of GSA’s Public Building Service, said the agency will focus the bulk of its attention in the coming years on right-sizing about 1,100 leases that make up the “vast majority” of the federal real property spend. (Federal News Network)
  • President Trump nominated Neomi Rao, the administrator in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB, to fill the seat vacated by Brett Kavanaugh on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Rao has been OIRA administrator since July 2017. Before that, Rao was an associate professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School where her research and teaching focused on constitutional and administrative law.
  • More janitors are needed at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, according to the Government Accountability Office. GAO said there’s a known shortage of qualified cleaning and janitorial staff at many facilities, which affects their ability to correct problems in areas veterans receive care. There is also a shortage of engineering staff at many centers. (Government Accountability Office)
  • It’s taken nearly a year, but Senators have come to an agreement on a bill to authorize the Coast Guard for 2018 and 2019. The bill establishes $10.5 billion for the Coast Guard in 2019. It also gives the Coast Guard Commandant new acquisition tools like multiyear funding to procure a future cutter. (Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee)
  • The Homeland Security Department would gain a new agency under a bill that has passed the House. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency bill passed unanimously. It already passed the Senate, so it’s awaiting the president’s signature. The new agency would reorganize and essentially replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate. The CISA’s main mission would be to lead federal efforts in cyber and physical security. Undersecretary Chris Krebs says the new name would reflect what the agency actually does. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • It’s been two years since Congress ordered the Pentagon to tighten up its regulations on Lowest-Price Technically Acceptable contracts. But, DoD is just getting started. The 2017 defense authorization bill gave DoD eight separate criteria to use, aiming to rein-in the use of LPTA contracts. The Government Accountability Office said acquisition officials seem to be complying with most of them, but not all. For one thing, contracting officers aren’t providing written justifications of their decisions to use LPTA. DoD said regulations telling its personnel how to comply with the law won’t be ready until late next year. (Federal News Network)
  • An Air Force pilot is dead and another one injured in a jet crash at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. The base said a T-38C Talon crashed yesterday evening during a training exercise. The crash is under investigation by a board of officers. The Air Force launched a review a couple of months ago after seven flying incidents over the spring. (WTOP)