DoD wants to declassify more intelligence to enhance private-sector cybersecurity

In today's Federal Newscast: The Defense Department wants to declassify more intelligence to enhance private-sector cybersecurity. GSA is taking new steps to ma...

  • The Defense Department wants to declassify more intelligence to enhance cybersecurity in the private sector. It said defense contractors need increased access to intelligence information to defend themselves against outside threats. Undersecretary of Defense Ronald Moultrie told a group at the Defense and Intelligence Space Conference that DoD plans to declassify some information, particularly from satellite images. He said the Pentagon may be overclassifying information needed by vendors and that DoD wants to have more transparency, and wants strategic partners to follow suit.
  • The Central Intelligence Agency is weighing the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence. The CIA has developed several AI tools it uses today, including an Amazon-type tool for helping ensure analysts do not miss a key piece of information. But Linda Weissgold, deputy director for analysis at the CIA, said AI and automation are unlikely to replace human analysts anytime soon. “I don’t envision the day where our work is going to be written by a chat bot,” Weissgold said. Still, the CIA is on the hunt for tech talent. The agency rolled out a new online jobs portal this month, with dozens of open positions across data science and other technology roles. (CIA official ‘doesn’t envision’ chatbots replacing human analysts – Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration is taking new steps to make sure the software it uses is secure. GSA will begin requiring vendors to provide an attestation letter by mid-June that their software meets the agency’s IT standards process and is approved by the chief technology officer. GSA issued a new acquisition letter detailing its process to meet the Office of Management and Budget’s secure software development memo from September. GSA said the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will issue a common form to collect attestations from vendors before June. As for GSA’s multiple award contracts it said vendors will have to prove compliance at the contract level where a new acquisition regulation under development will provide more specific requirements.
  • A bipartisan bill from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is targeting longstanding challenges within the VA’s health care workforce. The VA CAREERS Act would set higher pay caps for VA physicians, podiatrists, optometrists and dentists. The bill would expand eligibility for more health care staff to be reimbursed for professional education costs and it would also require the VA to fine-tune its workforce data and use the data to better inform long-term hiring plans. Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said the bill will help the VA recruit and retain health care workers as the agency brings more veterans into its care under the PACT Act.
  • A federal task force is bringing plans to create a shared R&D hub for artificial intelligence into focus. The congressionally mandated task force behind the National AI Resource (NAIRR) is telling Congress in its final report that it could reach initial operating capability within 21 months, if the project receives enough funding. The task force is asking for $2.6 billion in congressional appropriations over the next six years to stand up the NAIRR. Most of the funding would go to multiple federal agencies contributing AI resources to the NAIRR. The task force recommended a non-government entity handle the NAIRR’s day-to-day operations. But the National Science Foundation would serve as its “administrative home” and provide funding and oversight. (White House AI task force seeks $2.6B from Congress to create shared R&D hub – Federal News Network)
  • House lawmakers advanced a bill to reform the federal hiring process. Under the Chance to Compete Act, agencies would see an expansion of shared assessments and cross-agency recruitment options. The bill would additionally let subject matter experts conduct interviews. It would also place greater emphasis on job candidates’ skills, rather than their educational background or self-assessments. The House passed its version of the bill in a vote of 422 to 2 Tuesday evening. (Reintroduced bills aim to fix hiring process, Social Security benefits for feds – Federal News Network)
  • Halfway into the two-year effort to improve federal agency management, the Office of Management and Budget said agencies are making real progress. In its latest update to the President’s Management Agenda, OMB said a majority of agencies are on track to achieve their agency priority goals by September 30. Last year, agencies established 87 two-year priority goals. Among the accomplishments over the last year are the Treasury Department increasing the electronic payment rate to over 96%, and SBA certifying nearly 5,000 8(a)small businesses, 65% of which received at least one 8(a) contract last year.
  • The Treasury Department is partially suspending investments in the Thrift Savings Plan’s G Fund. Treasury’s suspension comes after the U.S. was projected to hit its debt limit last Thursday. Treasury also suspended some investments in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, in an effort to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said federal employees and retirees will be unaffected by the measures, because once the debt ceiling is raised, both funds will be made whole.
  • The General Services Administration is seeking nominations for membership on the Federal Secure Cloud Advisory Committee. The panel was created as part of the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. It will provide advice and recommendations to GSA on all aspects of the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). The committee will include at least five members from industry, with two slots reserved for small business representatives. Nominations are due February 9.
  • Construction of the Navy’s newest, biggest submarine is well underway, but the Government Accountability Office said it hasn’t done a schedule risk analysis. The first-in-class Columbia ballistic missile submarine faces delays as shipbuilder Electric Boat suffers challenges with design, materials and quality.  The company is adding workers to speed up the process. Without updating long-term planning, the Navy cannot be certain the fiscal 2024 budget request will be enough to fund the production schedule. GAO recommended the Navy conduct a schedule risk analysis and update long-term plans.


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