IT problems cause delay in veterans receiving GI Bill benefits

In today's Federal Newscast, thousands of veterans are waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay their education benefits.

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  • Tens of thousands of veterans are stuck in a months-long backlog, waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay their education benefits. The problems stem from outdated IT systems which weren’t ready to implement the Forever GI Bill. NBC News reports the claims backlog has more than doubled over the past year. The House Veterans Affairs Committee plans to call VA officials to testify about the problems in a hearing on Thursday. (NBC News)
  • The General Services Administration is losing its chief technology officer, and the Cyber Threat Intelligence Center is looking for a new director. GSA’s CTO Navin Vembar is off to become CTO of CollabraLink. He’s been with GSA since 2011 and its CTO since 2016. Tonya Ugoretz’s two-year detail at CTIC ends in November and she will return to the FBI. She has been director of CTIC since 2016. (Federal News Network)
  • Another military service changes the role of its lead technology executive. The Air Force is the second military service to restructure its chief information officer’s role by moving it to a higher level in the organization. The service named Undersecretary Matt Donovan as its new CIO to go along with his current role as the chief management officer. Donovan now oversees technology, the chief data officer and the business transformation effort across the service. The Navy Department was the first military service to transfer its CIO role under its undersecretary in March. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy is extending the federal government’s biggest IT contract for another eight months. The extension comes after several delays in determining the successor to the Next Generation Enterprise Network contract. The current iteration, worth $3.5 billion, went to HP in 2013. Following that five-year agreement, the Navy has now had to issue two extensions to keep current services up and running. The new $485 million contract will keep the current agreement with the current contract holder, Perspecta, in place through the summer of 2020. (Department of Defense)
  • The Office of Management and Budget issued more details on getting the most out of data centers. Jake Wooley, IT sustainability program manager for the Energy Department, said the guidance will include realistic goals for agencies, as well as how to optimize large, inefficient data centers. OMB last issued guidance on data center optimization in August 2016. (Federal News Network)
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the latest agency to detail its plans for closing data centers and migrating to the cloud. Chief Technology Officer Mason McDaniel said the bureau will turn off its primary data center and migrate applications to the cloud by the summer, when final tests are completed. The bureau first created a backup copy of the assets it has in its physical data center, and migrated that copy to the cloud. McMason said the bureau will swap the main version for the cloud after it finishes testing.
  • The Government Accountability Office commended the IRS’ accuracy in its past two financial reports, and said it continues to make improvements in its internal controls and financial reporting to enhance the quality of its data. However, GAO did say IRS faced significant financial management challenges which put its systems and data at risk. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said all agencies made some good progress on developing insider threat programs over the past year. Agency leaders are seeing their value and are funneling resources to the cause. ODNI said most of last year’s success comes from having trained more insider threat personnel. ODNI had previously cited cultural, legal, privacy and resource challenges as roadblocks to meeting insider threat goals. (Federal News Network)
  • The U.S. is not among the 51 nations to sign the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace. The Call, launched during the UNESCO Internet Governance Forum in France, was signed by the European Union and all but two NATO nations. Signatories also included dozens of technology companies and nonprofits committed to working together to boost resilience to malicious online activity, including interference in elections. Non-signers also included Russia, China and Iran. (France Diplomatie)
  • Federal benefits and retirement expert Tammy Flanagan said feds need to double-check their plans during open season, regardless of whether they like or want to keep them. Premiums are increasing on average1.5 percent in 2019, and some plans will go up much higher. Flanagan said certain specific benefits, like prescription drug coverage, may change as well.

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