Senator asks intelligence community to look into Jeff Bezos phone hacking

In today's Federal Newscast, after one of the world's wealthiest individuals had his phone hacked, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wants intelligence agencies to begin...

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  • After one of the world’s wealthiest individuals had his phone hacked, one senator wants the intelligence community to begin an investigation. A UN report saying Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked by officials from Saudi Arabia surfaced last week. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is asking the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to find out if they agree with the report’s findings, and what they know about the software that was used. He’s worried about other U.S. citizens who may be targeted. (Sen. Chris Murphy)
  • A whole-of-agency effort to protect the Super Bowl from threats is taking place at the Department of Homeland Security. The agency has stood up a Joint Special Operations Center in Miami, where the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will conduct cyber threat assessments. The Secret Service and Coast Guard has also sent personnel. Meanwhile the Transportation Security Administration has deployed a surge workforce to screen additional passengers at airports. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • Employees at the Veterans Benefits Administration are responding well to some incentives designed to improve their performance, according to VBA Undersecretary Paul Lawrence. He said extra days off are pushing employees to meet and beat quarterly performance goals. Lawrence also said VBA is experimenting with small bonuses and other employee recognition programs. VBA is measuring the number and timeliness of its claims process. (Federal News Network)
  • Vacancies on another federal oversight board could soon stop it from voting on key issues. Like the Merit Systems Protection Board and others, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has only three of five board members, and with current commissioner Bernard McNamee planning to step down in June, it soon will no longer have a quorum. Sen. Ron Wyden (R-Wis.) wrote to the White House asking the president to nominate two FERC commissioners as soon as possible in order to keep FERC functioning. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
  • The General Services Administration filled an important opening in its executive ranks. It named Julie Dunne as commissioner of its Federal Acquisition Service. She joined GSA in May and before that was staff director for the House Government Operations Subcommittee. An attorney, Dunne was associate general counsel at DHS and the Commerce Department. Dunne succeeded Alan Thomas, and will have to deal several front-burner projects. These include consolidation of the multiple award schedules, establishing an electronic marketplace, expanding shared services and modernizing information technology. (General Services Administration)
  • After three years, the Federal Aviation Administration has a permanent chief information officer. The FAA stayed in-house for its new chief information officer. Kristen Baldwin, the Transportation Department’s deputy CIO, will take over a role that has had an acting IT executive since 2016. Sources told Federal News Network that Baldwin will start at the FAA on Feb. 17. She replaced Sean Torpey, who had been acting CIO since December 2016. Torpey became the FAA’s executive director of its National Engagement and Regional Administration in October. Melanie Boteler, the FAA chief information security officer, has been acting since Torpey moved to a new role.
  • The Labor Department is moving its four procurement offices to a shared services model. Labor already consolidated 19 separate human resources offices to shared services late last year. Labor Deputy Secretary Pat Pizzella said the move to shared services was deliberately slow. The department spent 18 months learning about the organization of its IT, procurement and human resources offices, before moving anything to the new model. Pizzella said the procurement consolidation will begin this quarter.
  • Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten said the military will need to be more transparent in the way its spends money on space assets now that the Space Force is a military service. Hyten said if too much of the budget is hidden from Congress then it makes it hard for lawmakers to explain spending to their voters back home. Most space funding is hidden in the Defense Department’s classified budget. However, the Pentagon wants to expand its space spending. The 2021 budget is expected to come out early next month.
  • The Naval Supply Systems Command Weapons Systems Support is working on a new five year plan, but it’s doing it a little differently. The command broke some of its employees into six groups based on supply chain initiatives it wants to work on. The teams presented ideas shark tank style on which projects the command should focus on between now and 2025. Groups chose 11 projects focused on IT, communications, processes and other areas. The clusters of employees are now finalizing their ideas and building action plans. (Navy)
  • U.S. Transportation Command plans to award a contract to overhaul the military’s multibillion dollar moving system by the end of April. TRANSCOM wants to hire an end-to-end service provider to manage all of the military’s household goods moves, but Congress has asked DoD to clear a few hurdles first. The command said it submitted a business case analysis to Capitol Hill last week. A GAO report examining the current system is due by mid-February. Defense officials said the current system is unworkable, because it doesn’t let it hold moving companies accountable for bad performance. (Federal News Network)

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