Federal Drive interviews – Oct. 23

George HalvorsonChairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Integrated electronic health records sound like something that makes the lives of doctors, nurses and medical office staff easier. But EHRs also benefit patients. Kaiser Permanente, the health care system, has been developing electronic health records for decades. It works with the Veterans Affairs Department to establish standards for compatible records for patients on both systems. In some ways, Halvorson said, high-quality records enable health care organizations to deliver the kind of care people remember from the days when doctors with black bags made house calls.

Richard SteinTechnology Analyst, Bloomberg Government

Exactly how small is “small”? The Small Business Administration is trying to determine that when it comes to companies. Millions of federal contracting dollars are at stake. Stein says SBA is reviewing size standards for different industries.


Joe PetrilloProcurement Attorney, Petrillo and Powell

Bid protests have long been the bugaboo of federal contracting. Now a court ruling has made things more complicated. An appeals court ruled that a protester can sue the government over corrective action even before it knows who wins the protest.

Arati PrabhakarDirector, DARPA

The new director of the Pentagon’s research arm, DARPA, has started speaking publicly on the direction in which she wants her agency to go. Arati Prabhakar says DARPA is working on new weapons systems and its goal is to create new surprises in military technology and prevent others from surprising our military. Prabhakar made her comments at the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference in Arlington, Va.


DoD Reports

The Office of Naval Research is supporting projects to create robotic sea creatures. There are battery-powered eels that check for mines…robotic jellyfish used for surveillance…and even intelligence-gathering robotic sunfish. O-N-R says the goal is to make underwater devices that can’t be detected by sonar or radar. Propellers and jets currently used are easily detectable. (Associated Press)

Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno held a love-in with military reporters. He says that in an age of instant and ubiquitous communications, the Army and the media need to trust one another. Odierno says information gets transmitted so fast now that 50 percent of first round stories contain errors. He pledges the Army will get facts out as fast as it can and generally cooperate with the media. But, he says, the trust has to run both ways. Odierno says that in 36 years of military service, he’s never felt as if a reporter burned him. He’s glad to do off-the-record sessions, but asks the press to respect the need for operational security. (Defense Department)

Cybersecurity Reports

The Labor Department may be exposing critical data to cyber attacks. A memo from the inspector general details weaknesses in the agency’s Personal Identification Verification system, also known as PIV 2. It says administrators are violating federal security guidelines. And that Labor has assigned someone without the right training or expertise to oversee security. Auditors tested the system and found problems at nearly every turn, from account management to system logins, user privileges, system assessments and contingency planning. The IG warns that hackers who exploit these weaknesses may gain access to the Department’s data, other systems and people. (Labor Inspector General)

The Homeland Security Department wants to establish a blanket purchase agreement for cybersecurity tools and services. The BPA would be available governmentwide, and use the General Services Administration’s multiple award schedule contracts. D-H-S has selected 26 products. In a draft solicitation, it asks vendors whether the products are enough to let agencies establish continuous network monitoring. The BPA would support a new program DHS wants to launch. It’s called Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation, and it’s aimed at getting agencies to deter cyber threats. (Federal News Radio)

You’ll be able to register your smartphone in a federal program by the end of this month. The FCC initiative may stem the rise of cell-phone theft. It lets people register their devices in a database that police can use to identify and disable the phones if they’re stolen. That may deter theives since it makes it harder to sell the smart phones on the black market. Cell phone carriers are cooperating on the initiative. It comes as local police are struggling to stop cell-phone theft. In the District, cell-phone robberies have risen 54 percent over the past five years. (Associated Press)