DHS reminds agencies how to secure networks during the telework age

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  • With the surge in teleworking, the Department of Homeland Security wants agency chief information officers to double and triple check network security protocols. Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to agencies reminding them to ensure one of two encryption protocols is running over their networks. DHS also will begin providing regular reports to agencies highlighting if they are bypassing encryption requirements. CISA will work with those agencies to determine why it’s happening and what can be done to secure their networks.
  • A bipartisan coalition in the House sees public support for the Postal Service as leverage to give the agency emergency funding. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) joined colleagues Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) in standing up a Postal Preservation Caucus. The group supports the agency’s request for $75 billion in emergency relief, and urges House and Senate leadership to approve it. While the White House blocked cash relief for the Postal Service in the CARES Act, Connolly said the public has become more aware of the agency’s dire financial situation. (Rep. Carolyn Maloney)
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has concerns about the telework policy and working conditions for employees at a Justice Department office in Virginia. Norton says many employees at the Board of Immigration Appeals are still coming to work at the office. She says the building has been partially closed four different times over the past two weeks because of coronavirus concerns. Norton is asking Attorney General William Barr to change telework policies at the office or give employees a reason for why they can’t telework.
  • The Government Accountability Office is ready to grow its innovation lab. Launched in October, GAO is asking for industry input on how to create a new blanket purchase agreement for an assortment of cloud services. The request for information is looking for cloud service providers who can provide software- and platform-as-a-service, data analytic capabilities and access to emerging technologies like digital ledger, 5G, alternate GPS, and Internet of Things. Responses to the RFI are due May 7.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is tipping its hat to agencies working with state and local partners to turn former federal properties into valuable real-estate. The Energy Department, the National Park Service, the Navy and Army receive the EPA’s third-annual National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse awards. Revitalized sites include former military bases eliminated under Base Realignment and Closure, as well as former Superfund sites. The EPA has more than 170 federal facilities sites on its National Priorities List of Superfund sites that the agency is tasked with cleaning and putting up for sale or transfer.
  • Another familiar name is back at the Office of Personnel Management. George Nesterczuk is now a senior adviser at OPM. He was President Trump’s first pick to be OPM director back in 2017. But Nesterczuk withdrew his name after his nomination had been pending for several months. OPM says he’ll serve in the acting director’s office. Nesterczuk has worked at OPM before during the Reagan and George W-Bush administrations. He helped make the short-lived National Security Personnel System a reality. But Nesterczuk and NSPS weren’t popular with federal employee unions. (Federal News Network)
  • Trust with the Department of Veterans Affairs is at its highest point in several years. VA reports over 90% of surveyed veterans say they trust the department’s health care services. VA has been surveying veterans for almost three years. Trust among veterans sat around 85% back in 2017. VA says the improvements are partly due to its customer experience program. Over 95,000 employees at the Veterans Health Administration have gotten customer service training in the past three years.
  • Sexual assault reports in the military continue to rise, according to a new study from the Defense Department. There were more than 7,800 assaults reported in 2019, that’s an increase of 200 from 2018. Prosecution and conviction rates still remain very low. Last year 363 cases were prosecuted and there were 138 convictions. The numbers come after a recent report of a 32% increase in sexual assaults in military academies.
  • A new military contract for moving services will hopefully provide more accountability for service members who have had trouble moving household goods in the past. U.S. Transportation Command awarded its controversial $7.2 billion household goods contract yesterday. The agreement will put one company in charge of managing the more than 400,000 military moves per year. Part of the contract ensures at least 40% of that business goes to small companies. The Defense Department says the contract will help service members track their goods when moving. Critics fear subcontractors will not be paid in a timely fashion. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy’s procurement system is humming along  even with an acquisition workforce that’s mostly teleworking. The service has just awarded a multibillion dollar contract for a new class of frigates. The Navy awarded a contract worth more than $5 billion to Marinette Marine for the first ten ships. By shipbuilding standards, the contracting process has moved at light speed. The Navy released the final RFP just last June, and the final award came several months ahead of the date the Navy originally projected. Officials say the speed came mostly from the fact that bidders were asked to propose hull designs that had already been tested at sea. The Navy is also reusing many of the electronic systems it’s already preparing to deploy on other vessels.
  • One of the military’s largest contractors made a move to avoid taking money from the Congressional stimulus funding. Saying the pandemic has dealt a body blow to its business, Boeing launched the sale of $25 billion worth of bonds. In the first quarter, Boeing reported sales fell 26% from a year earlier and a $1.7 billion loss. The aerospace giant was already in trouble with its 737 Max. Boeing is also late with its Air Force tanker program and had a flawed NASA launch in December.