Two lawmakers move to unalterably slam the door shut on government shutdowns

  • The White House is measuring the nation’s progress on cybersecurity. The Office of the National Cyber Director is developing a new cyber posture report to help evaluate the current state of cybersecurity. The White House has already released a new national cyber strategy and associated implementation plan earlier this year. On Sept. 5, at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden said the White House is using data to track implementation of the cyber strategy. “But then we’re going to publish and be held accountable for what’s the posture of the nation so we can advise the president on the next thing in advance,” Walden said. And Walden’s office is specifically analyzing the cyber defenses of space systems as part of the report.
  • Two Democrats in Congress are trying to put an end to government shutdowns once and for all. A new bicameral bill from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) would kick in an automatic continuing resolution every Oct. 1, in the case that Congress doesn’t come to a full-year government spending agreement. Under a continuing resolution, agencies would see their funding temporarily set at the previous fiscal year’s levels. And the bill would keep that stopgap measure in place until Congress reaches a full-year agreement. In the meantime, the Senate would also be blocked from working on other legislation. The bill’s introduction comes just a few weeks ahead of Congress’ Sept. 30 deadline to reach a funding agreement for the government or otherwise face a possible shutdown. Kaine and Beyer said the goal of their legislation is to protect federal workers and maintain critical government services.
    (End Shutdowns Act - Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.))
  • Verizon is paying a fine to settle cyber violations, but it's a lot smaller than it could've been. Verizon blew the whistle on itself in how it was protecting the data and systems at the General Services Administration. That admission likely resulted in a smaller penalty from the Justice Department. Verizon agreed to pay just over $4 million to settle claims that its Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS), under the Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative, failed to completely satisfy certain cybersecurity controls. From October 2017 to August 2021, Verizon failed to implement specific requirements under TIC 2.0, including domain name security extensions and certain encryption requirements as required in FIPS 140-2 Standards.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a full review of its main website after IT problems delayed benefits for veterans. The VA recently uncovered two IT issues with that may have delayed disability claims for tens of thousands of veterans. One IT error affected about 56,000 veterans who tried to add or remove dependents on their VA disability benefits profile. VA said impacted veterans will receive backdated benefits if they were underpaid. The VA also identified a technical issue on that prevented about 900 veterans from appealing the department’s decision on their applications for disability benefits.
  • Federal employees would likely see reduced effects of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) under a new bill. The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, introduced by Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), would replace the Social Security funding formula for WEP. Arrington said the goal is to better reflect individuals' work experiences. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) said the legislation would be a good first step toward correcting Social Security reductions that many feds experience. But NARFE also noted that the bill does not include a repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which reduces benefits for the spouses and widows of federal employees.
    (Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act - Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas))
  • Veterans and others effected by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have a new way to resolve their claims. The Navy and the Justice Department established a new "elective option" that allows a faster review of claims by narrowing the scope to a few key categories, like the type of alleged injury and the time the claimant worked at the Marine base. The new recourse option supplements other methods of seeking relief. So far the Navy has gotten more than 93,000 claims based on exposure to chemicals at the base between 1953 and 1987.
  • The U.S. Digital Corps (USDC) marked its second anniversary with plans to hire its next cohort in the data science and product management supervisors areas. It will also soon begin the hiring process for its next cohort of fellows scheduled to start in Summer 2024. Since the Biden administration launched the USDC in August 2021, almost 90 early-career technologists worked across 19 agencies on high-priority projects including improving the customer experience of government and modernizing America's public health system. As part of its two-year anniversary, USDC also published its first agency impact story highlighting its early contributions to the Administration for Children and Families, within the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
  • House Republicans are pushing back on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new cybersecurity rules. In a Sept. 1 letter to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, members of the Homeland Security Committee urged the commission to delay its new cyber disclosure requirements. The rules, finalized in July, will require public companies to disclose any cybersecurity incidents they determine to be material to the business. But the lawmakers argued the SEC rules conflict with other cyber incident reporting laws, and should be delayed until agencies have time to determine how to harmonize the different requirements.
    (SEC cyber disclosure rule letter - House Homeland Security Committee)
  • Top members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are leading a bill to improve the VA’s disability claims process. Committee Chairman Jon Tester (R-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act. The bill would require VA contractors to contact a veteran’s representative, in addition to contacting the veteran, when scheduling medical disability exams. The bill would allow veterans to save time by filling out the VA’s Disability Benefits Questionnaires before showing up for a medical exam. Under the bill, the VA would also establish an internship program at the VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals.
  • The Navy has an app for information on science and technology. The Office of Naval Research mobile app can be downloaded onto personal phones as well as Navy work phones. The app allows STEM students and university researchers to learn about research initiatives and internship opportunities, and contains links to the Navy's Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions programs. Small business and potential industry partners can find Broad Agency Announcements and Funding Opportunity Announcements, as well as information on the Navy Technology Transfer program.

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