Federal Drive Interviews — Oct. 15, 2012

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

David Goldmanassistant administrator, Public Health Science

If there’s something wrong with your food, the Agriculture Department said it wants to hear from you. The Food Safety and Inspection Service has launched an online consumer complaint form. That means it’s relying less on state and local health departments and more on you to report data. The agency said the online process will remove constraints like office hours and even human error that might have slowed down its reaction in the past.

Electronic Consumer Complaint Reporting Form

Read the story.

Martin Libickisenior management scientist, Rand Corp.

Political leaders of both parties have called for tougher cybersecurity measures. But they’ve been unable to pass legislation. When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took the stage in New York last week for his first public speech on cyber issues, he may have shifted the center of the debate from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon. He warned that cyber-terrorist attacks could paralyze the nation.

John Mahoneychairman, labor and employment practice group, Tully Rinckey

President Barack Obama has pushed agencies to hire more people with disabilities and they have. But that doesn’t mean agencies are making workers with disabilities feel welcomed. Discrimination complaints have ticked upwards over the past five years. That’s according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s latest report on the federal workforce.

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Brenda Farrelldirector of defense capabilities and management issues, Government Accountability Office

The cost of the Military Health System is projected to reach nearly $95 billion by 2030 according to the Congressional Budget Office. Everyone agrees it needs to get better at controlling cost. The Government Accountability Office analyzed the department’s report on governance options.


DoD Report

  • Pentagon officials are asking China if it wants to share resources. U.S. officials said it a groundbreaking development for logistics. They have invited Chinese officials to visit Washington early next year. They’ll discuss sharing fuel, food, supplies and even ship parts to support joint operations. Those include counter-piracy, humanitarian assistance and disaster-response missions. The Pentagon has considered the arrangement before but did not pursue it because of strained relations with China. Now may be different. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently visited China to promote closer cooperation.
  • A Navy cruiser and submarine have collided off the East Coast. Both vessels are back in port so they can be examined for damage. The Aegis Cruiser USS San Jacinto and the submarine USS Montpelier were on routine training operations. No one was injured, according to the Navy. A spokesman said the nuclear propulsion system of the submarine was not damaged. The surface ship headed to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., under its own power. The sub went to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in southern Georgia. The Navy is investigating the collision, which it called rare, but did not release more specifics.

Cybersecurity Update

  • Microsoft is planning to launch Windows 8 a week from Friday. By all accounts, it will be the most radical rewrite since Windows 95 first appeared nearly two decades ago. Information Week reports, Windows 8 will have several security improvements over Windows 7 and Windows Vista now running on most PCs. Windows 8 will have an antivirus program activated by default on new machines, meaning it’s on until the user manually turns it off. It will also have built-in resistance to root kits and boot kits to prevent malware from embedding itself. Windows 8 is designed so that when a machine is turned on, anti-malware applications load before any others. That will help prevent infections. One reseacher called Windows 8 the most secure version of the operating system yet.
  • Tech companies get the chance today to show the Pentagon how they can help the military win a cyber war. The research agency DARPA is hosting the so-called “proposers’ day workshop” on “Plan X.” DARPA had scheduled the workshop as a two-day event last month. It pushed the date back and expanded it to three days because of what the agency calls “an unanticipated and overwhelming response from industry and academia.” Plan X focuses on helping the military build cyber-attack strategies and tools. DARPA said it will create revolutionary technologies for cyber offensives and will help the military develop winning strategies and tactics. Contractors will develop tools that deploy weapons and monitor battle damage in a cyber war. DARPA said it will release this month an official announcement about Plan X.


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