Agencies ordered to prepare for GPS outage

In today's Federal Newscast, the departments of Commerce, Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security are on the clock to figure out how best to secure the sy...

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  • The White House directs agencies to take initial steps to protect GPS systems in a more hole of government approach. The departments of Commerce, Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security are on the clock to figure out how best to secure the systems that support global positioning satellites and related critical infrastructure. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Wednesday detailing a series of deadlines to protect positioning, navigation and timing services and the associated critical infrastructure. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is first out of the gate with a one-year deadline to develop foundational cybersecurity profiles to help manage risks to systems, networks and assets that depend on positioning, navigation and timing services. The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council also will develop new rules for products and systems that use GPS and similar services.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is considering some new voluntary benefits for federal employees. OPM will ask Congress this year for authority to contract for emergency child care, short term disability insurance and prepaid legal assistance, among other benefits. Employees would have to pay for these benefits themselves. But OPM said they’d likely be cheaper because the agency could harness the purchasing power of the federal workforce. Some agencies have been offering similar benefits for a fee on their own. (Federal News Network)
  • A month out from when the 2020 Census internet self-response platform goes live, the Government Accountability Office has flagged new cybersecurity weaknesses. GAO auditors found that the bureau identified a recent scalability issue with the platform that prevented it from having up to 600,000 users on the self-response site at any one time. As a result, the bureau decided last week that it would use its backup systems to help manage internet self-response. Auditors said last-minute IT changes like that could introduce new vulnerabilities and risks. (Federal News Network)
  • Brian Whittaker has been selected to be the new acting executive director of the General Services Administration’s 18F organization. Whittaker replaced Angela Colter, who left last week after four years with 18F, including the last 21 months as its executive director. Before taking over as the acting executive director of 18F, Whittaker was the deputy executive director of the centers of excellence program since November 2017.
  • The House Natural Resources Committee has agreed to give its chairman subpoena power over the Interior Department for certain documents. The committee said it still hasn’t received the documents it asked for on the Bureau of Land Management relocation and other topics. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the department has responded to the committee’s information requests and that Interior has sent members nearly 22,000 documents in response to their questions. He finished off his response by calling the effort part of a witch hunt.
  • A federal judge is expected to rule Thursday on whether to temporarily block the Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud contract from getting underway. As part of its bid protest lawsuit, Amazon Web Services is asking the Court of Federal Claims to stop Microsoft and DoD from getting to work on the contract, which is scheduled to kick off tomorrow unless it’s blocked. In new court filings, the Pentagon said any more delays would create serious national security concerns. Officials also argue costs could increase, because they might be forced to buy cloud services via other contracting vehicles at almost double the prices they’ve negotiated under JEDI. (Federal News Network)
  • With the creation of a new Space Force, the National Guard wants to set up a Space Guard. Since it does conduct space operations important to homeland and civil duties. Brig. Gen. Patrick Cobb, deputy director of space operations for the National Guard, said the Space Guard would only be in states where there are already space components. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army is slowing down its plan to increase the length of basic training for some occupations. The service originally wanted to give most new soldiers six more weeks of initial training. Now engineers, cavalry scouts and armor crewmen will be spared the elongated 22-week course. The Army did not give a reason for why it decided to put the plans on hold. The service increased its training to make soldiers better prepared for combat with near-peer competitors like China and Russia.
  • Reconstruction of Afghanistan has been costly, and not just in US dollars. It’s also cost at least 5,000 human casualties, including more than 1,000 kidnapped or missing. That’s the assessment from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in a report on the human cost of the nearly 20-year effort. Casualties include at least 284 Americans killed, 68 of them civilians. Most of the mayhem occurred between 2008 and 2011, during what SIGAR calls the height of the reconstruction effort.
  • After the two deadly collisions involving Navy ships in 2018, the service launched efforts to reach out the sailors involved to gauge how the incidents effected them mentally. ProPublica reported the Navy was able to contact about two-thirds of the sailors and about 20% requested mental health treatment. It was part of a long-term pilot program called Project ORION.

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