GAO: Agencies had trouble dealing with major cyber incidents in 2020

In today's Federal Newscast, a Government Accountability Office report on the federal response to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange exploits, shows agencies...

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  • Agencies struggled to respond to major cyber incidents last year because some failed to retain any network logging data. That’s according to a Government Accountability Office report on the federal response to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange exploits. Since those incidents, the White House has published new logging requirements for agencies. GAO also found information sharing between law enforcement, the private sector and intelligence agencies was difficult and time consuming. But the audit said agencies are making progress on that issue and other lessons learned as part of last year’s cybersecurity executive order.
  • What should the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency look like in 2025? One lawmaker aims to find out. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said CISA should be a $5-billion-a-year agency. “Not because I like to spend money, but because I know the need is there.” As ranking member of the House Homeland Security Agency, Katko is launching a new legislative push called “CISA 2025.” He’ll spend the next year developing a legislative proposal to boost CISA’s powers to both police federal network security and work with the private sector to reduce critical security risks. He said the workforce is also a key consideration. “It’s hard to compete with the private sector, but we have to appeal to people’s better angels, at least to come in and serve for awhile, because we need them.” (Federal News Network)
  • Democratic lawmakers propose a 5.1% average pay raise for federal employees next year. The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, would grant a 4.1% across-the-board pay raise to feds, plus a 1% increase in locality pay. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the bill. The bill has been reintroduced eight years running, but it has yet to pass. The annual pay raises federal employees actually get fall short of what the FAIR Act would offer. President Joe Biden signed an executive order grants feds a 2.7% pay raise that went into effect Jan. 1. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies spent more money through “best-in-class” contracts in fiscal 2021 than ever before. New analysis from Bloomberg Government found almost $51 billion went through these 40-plus governmentwide contracts that the Office of Management and Budget deemed best-in-class. Spending on best-in-class contracts has almost doubled since 2017 when agencies spent just under $27 billion. BGov said spending through BICs accounted for 8% of all procurement dollars in 2021. The Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Air Force were among the biggest users of these vehicles. NASA’s SEWP and GSA’s Alliant contracts were among the most used BICs last year.
  • The Marine Corps has granted COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions to two of its service members, making it the first military service to approve any religious exemption to the vaccine. The service has previously denied more than 3,300 exemption requests, and another 138 are still pending. Stars and Stripes reports the Marines declined to comment on the reasons behind the exemptions, citing privacy concerns.
  • A thousand more military medical personnel are set to deploy to civilian hospitals next week to help relieve staff who’ve been stretched thin by the omicron wave. That’s on top of 400 active duty troops the Pentagon has already sent. DoD said the medical teams will come from the military’s own treatment facilities, and head to facilities in Cleveland, New York, Providence, Detriot, Albuquerque, and Newark, New Jersey.
  • Military families get another win over privatized military housing landlords. Hunt Companies, one of the largest providers of privatized military housing, is agreeing to pay $500,000 to settle fraud allegations with the government. The company is not admitting fault. The allegations stem from Dover Air Force Base, where service members and their families say the company put profit over their welfare. The lawsuit alleges that Hunt Companies falsified performance records between 2013 and 2019 to receive incentive fees from the military. Tenants in the homes reported long wait times for maintenance and mold in their houses.
  • The Air Force is changing the way it prepares its enlisted airmen to better compete against adversaries like China and Russia. The service’s new enlisted force development action plan outlines 28 objectives for the next two years. Those include integrating wellness and resilience, increasing value on experience in the promotion system and providing a modern toolkit for frontline leaders.
  • The Office of the Federal CIO is staffing back up. The Office of Management and Budget is bringing in some much needed reinforcements to the Office of the Federal CIO. OMB named Drew Myklegard as the new associate deputy federal CIO, a new position in the office. He is on detail from the Department of Veterans Affairs where he worked for the past eight years, including as the executive director of product engineering. OMB also named Eileen Vidrine as the strategic advisor for data to Federal CIO. Vidrine comes to OMB after spending the last three-plus years as the chief data officer at the Air Force.
  • The head of the National Archives and Records Administration is retiring from government. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero will step down from his position in mid-April, after serving on the job for 12 years. During his tenure, Ferriero has helped NARA wean the rest of the federal government off paper records and move to electronic recordkeeping. By the end of this year, NARA will no longer accept paper records from any agency.

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