VA makes change to payment method for Forever GI Bill benefits

In today's Federal Newscast, the Department of Veterans Affairs was forced to change how it pays for veterans' education benefits after IT problems.

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  • Veterans will see another change in how the Department of Veterans Affairs pays their education benefits. Challenges with the current IT system meant VA couldn’t accurately pay them to comply with the new Forever GI bill. VA will revert back to the way it originally paid veterans before the new law, starting in December. That gives VA one year to finish IT upgrades. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • An Army file sharing system has been offline for several weeks because of cybersecurity concerns, and it’s creating challenges across the military services. The “SAFE” service was operated by the Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, but was widely used by all the of the military services — especially for files that are too large to send via email. The Navy told its personnel there’s no easy alternative to the AMRDEC service for sending large, unclassified files that require encryption. In the near term, its recommended solution is to burn those files to CDs and ship them via registered mail. (Navy)
  • Military criminal investigation organizations crack down on a sextortion ring targeting service members. Those arrested are accused of allegedly setting up online schemes which cost nearly 500 members more than half a million dollars. The suspects are charged with money laundering, extortion and wire fraud. (Naval Criminal Investigative Service)
  • Details are starting to surface regarding updates to how agencies can securely access the internet. Homeland Security’s Mark Bunn says the new Trusted Internet Connection or TIC guidance will contain multiple documents to make it easier to implement. It will address pain points from the 2007 guidance, like a list of security capabilities and use-cases for cloud services. It’s also designed to be flexible to accommodate new technologies as they’re adopted. (Federal News Network)
  • DHS is working on an algorithm to measure agencies’ progress towards implementing continuous diagnostics and mitigation, or CDM. CDM program manager Kevin Cox says the Agency-Wide Adaptive Risk Enumeration or AWARE algorithm will factor in 30 different controls before assigning a grade. They expect to start using it in fiscal 2020. (Federal News Network)
  • The Small Business Administration is preparing to launch a CDM pilot in the cloud with DHS. Sanjay Gupta, SBA’s chief technology officer, said the agency is working with CDM manager Kevin Cox’s team to kick off the 90-day pilot. He said SBA would be the first agency to run CDM in the cloud, though they’re not sure yet when it will kick off. SBA and DHS are still working on defining and scoping the pilot. (Federal News Network)
  • The number of bid protests is back on the increase, albeit only slightly. The Government Accountability Office reported a less than one percent increase in the number of protests of contracts it received in fiscal 2018. In its annual report to Congress, GAO said vendors submitted 2,607 complaints last year compared to 2,596 in 2017. At the same time, the number of protests GAO sustained dropped to 15 percent from 17 percent. But the number of protests that went to a full decision increased by 41 to 622. The small increase comes one year after GAO reported a seven percent drop in the number of protests it received in 2017 compared to 2016. (Government Accountability Office)
  • It’s taking the Defense Department two years or more to implement provisions from previous defense authorization acts. The slow process has created a gray area for industry and government officials on how to adhere to certain parts of the law. Some of the provisions still pending include acquisition measures to help DoD procure weapons at a faster speed to contend with countries like China and Russia. (Federal News Network)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee did not clear any of the president’s three nominees to fill the Merit Systems Protection Board. The decision made the prospects of a board with no members more likely. The president will likely need to re-nominate or find new nominees to fill the MSPB starting in January. The Senate will then have to vet and vote on those nominees within three months, before the term for lone MSPB Chairman Mark Robbins expires in March. MSPB has lacked a quorum since January 2017. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT at HHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services want to make it easier to use electronic health records. ONC and CMS released a new draft strategy focused on three goals based on feedback from healthcare professionals. Comments on the draft strategy are due Jan. 28. (Health and Human Services Department)

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