Federal government lacking expertise in AI and cybersecurity, GAO reports

In today's Federal Newscast: CISA is taking new steps to make your email even safer. The Defense Department is looking to expand private in-home childcare. And ...

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  • The Pentagon wants to incentivize defense contractors to take their cybersecurity more seriously. Having good cybersecurity could result in higher profit margins for defense contractors. Or it could help differentiate their proposals from the competition. Those are a couple of incentives the Defense Department is considering before the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification becomes a reality. Getting a CMMC certificate will eventually be a requirement in some defense contracts. But it will not be effective for at least nine months as it works through a lengthy rulemaking process. So DoD is looking for ways to encourage network security practices in the meantime. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is looking to expand private in-home childcare as one way to deal with staffing shortages at military-run day care centers. DoD started a pilot program earlier this year that vets private providers against the same standards it uses for its own child development centers. If they are approved, parents get a subsidy to help pay for the care. DoD is also expanding its outreach efforts to certify more private child care centers for fee assistance.
  • The Defense Intelligence Agency just inked a massive IT contract. DIA awarded General Dynamics Information Technology an $829 million contract to provide IT help desk services for the entire agency. GDIT beat out four other competitors to win the award. The deal runs through January 2032. GDIT is already on contract to provide cloud-based email and collaboration tools across the Defense Department. That’s under the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions contract, which provides Microsoft 365 services to 3.2 million DoD users.
  • As the physical and logical security systems come closer together, the General Services Administration is giving agencies some help. GSA issued a new self-assessment toolkit based on the NIST standards for local or enterprisewide physical access control systems. Agencies can use the assessment to obtain recommended changes to a physical access control policy or PACS configuration that meets the intended federal identity and credential access management end state. This end state for PACS encompass secure, auditable and interoperable physical access controls based on authentication mechanisms available via the PIV card.
  • The Defense Department’s multibillion-dollar household goods moving contract faces another bid protest. Connected Global Solutions challenged the $6.8 billion award at the Government Accountability Office. They join another losing bidder, American Roll-On-Roll-Off Cargo, who also filed a GAO protest last week. GAO has until early March to decide whether to uphold one or both protests. This is the second time DoD has awarded the Global Household Goods contract, but GAO sustained a protest to the first award last year, prompting the department to start again.
  • CISA is taking new steps to make your email even safer. More than four years ago, the Department of Homeland Security mandated the use of DMARC or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance standards. Now, DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency is looking to go even further with protective email services and by conducting threat and incident hunting. CISA, through GSA, released a request for information seeking industry feedback on these capabilities. CISA outlined three possible approaches to protective email services, the initial set of general and core capabilities of the services and asked vendors to describe their current approach, risks and to make recommendations. Responses to the RFI are due Dec. 20.
  • The Space Force is considering outsourcing some of its spying capabilities. The service put out a sources sought to see if a private company could maintain and operate its space-based space surveillance system. The contract is currently handled by Boeing. The Space Force is only considering the option at this time. Responses are due by early December. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is working on a new portal for medical patients. Some private medical practices have started using mobile communications to stay in contact with patients between appointments. Now the Military Health System wants to do the same thing. The Defense Health Agency is prototyping a Virtual Education Center that allows health providers to answer questions any time and send it to a patient’s phone or email account. The portal also provides important health resources. The Defense Health Agency’s next step will be to pilot the program at several hospitals. It hopes to fully launch the portal by 2023. (Federal News Network)
  • GAO is reporting that the federal workforce is falling short on expertise in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. To fill that gap, the Government Accountability Office is telling Congress how standing up a federal academy to train employees on digital skills could help address this talent shortage. GAO finds many workers with these in-demand skills are not willing to endure the lengthy federal hiring process and that agencies do not offer competitive pay.  The chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), requested the GAO study.
  • A proposed rule ending sub-minimum wages for certain federal contracts gets more time for public comments. The AbilityOne Commission is allowing more time to comment on a rule that would bar federal contractors and subcontractors who participate in its program from paying a “subminimum wage” to workers who are blind or have a physical or mental disability. Members of the public now have until Dec. 12 to weigh in on the proposed rule. The Federal Register notice from October said the rule would affect more than 40% of nonprofits in the program. But the rule would only improve wages for a small number of employees with disabilities who get paid less than minimum wage.

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