House, Senate approve bills calling for more security measures on IT supply chain

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  • A bill requiring agencies to apply more stringent oversight to their IT supply chains gained broad support in Congress. The House joined the Senate in passing the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act. Among the provisions, is one to create a Federal Acquisition Security Council. The council will develop policies and processes for agencies to use when purchasing IT. The Senate must agree to the House cyber omnibus before the bill would go to the president. (Sen. James Lankford)
  • The Senate passed a seven-week continuing resolution late Wednesday night. It’s the first step to avoiding a partial government shutdown by the end of week. The bill would fund all of the government through at least Feb. 8. The CR headed to the House on Thursday but it doesn’t include a pay raise for federal employees in 2019. A few Senate Democrats had tried to include a raise as an amendment or anomaly to the CR, but no additional amendments made it through. (Federal News Network)
  • There is new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management, after President Donald Trump gave federal employees the day off on Christmas Eve. OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert reminded employees they will get paid for the day off next Monday. Employees who already took paid-time off for Christmas Eve, will have the leave returned. Federal employees who do have to work on Christmas Eve will earn holiday premium pay. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • A District Court judge ordered the General Services Administration to conduct “a more comprehensive” search of its records on the FBI headquarters. The ruling stemmed from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. GSA must search for records beyond the CIO’s office and for non-electronic records, and to include new keywords. (Federal News Network)
  • GSA issued a draft solicitation for the next generation of its leasing support services contract, GLS Plus. The contract includes new services, to increase the government’s ability to carry out leasing projects. Public Building Service Commissioner Dan Mathews said GLS Plus aims to attract the best talent for high value projects. (FedBizOpps)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent 51 letters to the White House and federal agencies asking for documents that cover outstanding bipartisan inquiries. Cummings said Republican members had asked for many of these documents earlier this year but got no response. The letters cover agencies’ handling of whistleblower protections security clearances, hurricane response and others. Cummings is poised to take on the committee chairmanship in the new Congress. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • A new Air Force report painted a picture of mass confusion when officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force base wrongly believed they were dealing with an active shooter incident earlier this year. It’s at least the third incident this year in which a false alarm at a military base triggered a massive law enforcement response. But in this case, Air Force investigators said a cascading series of misunderstandings could have caused serious injuries. It started when an injured jogger phoned base hospital for medical help. An active shooter drill was happening at the same time. Security forces wrongly concluded there was a real shooter inside the hospital, fired shots through a locked door, and stormed the facility with more than 50 armed personnel. (Federal News Network)
  • The leader of U.S. Central Command said the White House’s newest cyber strategy does not go far enough. General Joseph Votel said in an Army journal that the Defense Department needs to give offensive capabilities to more military officials. Current authority to conduct cyber attacks is in the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Votel said the military must normalize cyber attacks and electronic warfare into daily operations. (Cyber Defense Review)
  • NASA’s cybersecurity woes continue with another major incident. Current and former NASA employees are at risk of identity theft after the space agency discovered a cyber attack. On Oct. 23, NASA found one of its servers containing personal data, including social security numbers, suffered a data breach. NASA said it will provide identity protection services to all potentially affected individuals. The agency didn’t say how many current and former employees may have been impacted. The good news is NASA does not believe that any agency missions were jeopardized by the intrusions. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs overpaid recipients in the Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program by $4.5 million dollars this past school year. The VA inspector general said some veterans regional offices had 3,100 unread emails which would have alerted claims representatives to adjust recipients’ educational assistance benefits. The IG said some VA regional offices weren’t checking the inbox that handled DEA claims for a notification to stop paying an additional allowance to a veteran. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Federal actuaries might need to adjust their long range forecasts for program outlays. New Census Bureau figures show that in the year ending July 1, the U.S. population grew only six- tenths of a percent, the lowest rate since at least 1960 according to the World Bank. The small growth is uneven throughout the country. Nevada and Idaho grew the most at 2.1 percent each. Nine states lost population, led by New York, which lost nearly 46,000 people. (U.S. Census Bureau)

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