problems not a cyber attack, GSA says

In today's Federal Newscast: The data breach at DC Health Link was a big one. also had problems, but GSA says it was not a cyber attack. And OPM is teac...

  • DC Health Link, the health exchange that serves the nation’s capital, had a big data breach this week. It is still not known how much information was stolen, but it was significant enough that House and Senate administrators warned lawmakers and their staffs that their own information might have been part of the breach. A broker on a dark-web crime forum claims to have records on 170,000 DC Health Link customers. The FBI is investigating the breach and officials say there is no indication that members of Congress were specifically targeted.
  • Maryland lawmakers made one final pitch to bring the FBI’s new headquarters to their state. The Maryland delegation is urging the General Services Administration to give equal weight to five criteria it will use to determine the best site for a new FBI headquarters. GSA is currently basing 35% of each site’s score on proximity to the FBI’s law enforcement training center in Quantico, Virginia, and the DOJ’s headquarters in downtown Washington. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said that scoring formula put Maryland at a disadvantage. "It showed a clear bias. It was not consistent with congressional intent," Cardin said.
  • A key technology leader is on the move just before her agency's busiest time of the year. Nancy Sieger is leaving the IRS after more than two years as its chief information officer. Sieger is heading to the Treasury Department to be its chief technology officer. Her last day is March 17. Jeffrey King, Treasury's deputy CIO, will replace Sieger on an acting basis. Sieger has been with the IRS for more than 40 years, having worked as the deputy CIO for filing season and tax reform, as acting deputy CIO for operations and the associate CIO for applications development. King has been with Treasury since September, but spent six years with the department between 2011 and 2017.
  • The General Services Administration is blaming day-long problems with the portal on software errors and not a cyber attack. Companies received emails from GSA's contracting site saying their entity registration had been updated. Additionally, some vendors received errant emails that were due to a software coding error. GSA said it is fixing the problems and users of can safely ignore both sets of emails. GSA said it has no evidence of any security breach and believes that no data was exposed.
    (Latest update on issues - General Services Administration)
  • Following last week's release of the new national cyber strategy, the Energy Department is looking to double down on its own efforts. DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) is overseeing a review of security in the electric distribution system. “We're going from large, centralized generation to more distributed, decentralized generation when we see all this solar and wind connecting," Puesh Kumar, the director of CESER Director said. "And so how does that change our cybersecurity risk going into the future?” DOE is also finalizing the first update to its own cyber strategy in five years.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is trying to help federal job candidates do well in interviews. OPM plans to share some insights on the federal government's interview process. In an upcoming event, OPM will cover information like how to prepare for an interview, different types of questions candidates might get, and how to respond to them. It's an effort to make the federal hiring process overall a little easier. OPM's presentation will take place on March 15 and is open to the public.
    (Event: Interviewing for Federal Jobs - Office of Personnel Management)
  • President Joe Biden is expected today to propose a 5.2% average pay raise for federal employees. The proposal, first reported Wednesday by the Washington Post, will be included in the upcoming White House budget request. Federal employees would see the bump to their paychecks starting in January of next year. If enacted, it would be the largest federal raise in over 40 years. House Republicans, though, would likely oppose the 5.2% request. Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has already criticized Biden's proposal. But Democrat lawmakers and federal unions are urging an even larger federal pay raise of 8.7%
  • The Transportation Security Administration is telling the aviation industry to get its cybersecurity house in order. TSA issued new cyber rules to airport and aircraft operators this week. The requirements follow similar standards announced for passenger and freight rail carriers last fall. TSA is requiring airports and airlines to develop a plan that describes how they are implementing different cybersecurity measures, like network segmentation, account access, and patch management.
  • The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is giving patients and physicians a new tool to access validated medical and health information. DHA launched a virtual education center based at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It designed the online portal to improve the quality of medical appointments and patient health by enhancing beneficiary education resources. The National Academy of Medicine found that over 90 million adults have limited health literacy. A Navy study recommended investing in individual patient education to include information about preventive health and hospital or clinic-specific resources.
  • A new military-civilian research initiative is looking to improve national security-relevant social science research and train future military leaders in social science methods. The effort will feature collaboration between military education programs and civilian research universities. Six Defense Department and university faculty teams will pursue fundamental social science research through the Defense Education and Civilian University Research Partnership. Projects funded for the joint research include one on a clean energy supply chain, a project on strategic competition in cyberspace and one on countering online extremism. Each project is funded for three to four years.
  • A bipartisan bill would require agencies to provide more public updates on their performance goals. The Federal Agency Performance Act would require agencies to provide regular updates to their performance goals and improve the public data that tracks progress toward those goals. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced the bill. They also introduced similar legislation that passed the Senate last year, but did not make it through the House.
    (Federal Agency Performance Act - Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee )

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