Federal Drive Interviews — Dec. 3, 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:

Jim Bradleyassistant public printer, Government Printing Office

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The Plum Book comes out today. It’s a book that lists more than 8,000 federal positions in the executive and legislative branches that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment. And for the first time, it will be available as an app.

Find The Plum Book app here.

John Pistoleadministrator, Transportation Security Administration

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It’s the holiday season and that means heavier airport traffic and longer lines at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is trying to keep both its own screeners and the passengers from tearing their hair out. One way to make the screening process faster and easier is TSA’s new PreCheck program and the latest technology that goes with it.

Dr. Patricia Hayeschief consultant for Women’s Health Services, Office of Patient Care Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

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The Department of Veterans Affairs wants female vets to know VA is the right place for their healthcare needs and not just or male vets only. The Women’s Health Services office has a new public service announcement to spread the word nationwide.

Mike Swetnamboard chairman and CEO,Potomac Institute

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The government’s hodgepodge approach to cybersecurity is no way to prepare for that worst-case scenario: a cyberwar. A new book says it’s time for some cohesion in the form of a national cybersecurity doctrine. Mike Sweetnam is the editor of #cyberdoc, No Borders, No Boundaries published by the Potomac Institute Press.


DoD Report

  • If you can’t handle your financial affairs, should you be able to buy a gun? The controversy over gun rights has popped up in the debate over a massive defense spending bill. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Veterans Affairs should stop putting the names of mentally incompetent veterans on a blackout list. He said a judge should decide whether someone is unfit to have a gun. Now, whenever the VA deems a patient to be mentally incompetent, it appoints someone to oversee their benefits and it sends their name to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (Federal News Radio)
  • The most male-dominated military service is evaluating an experiment in diversity. The Marine Corps assigned 45 female troops to all-male combat battalions earlier this year. Lt. Brandy Soublet said when she joined her unit, they looked at her as if she were wearing a costume. But she said they stopped staring after a while and now treat her as an equal. The battalion is now in San Diego but will go to Afghanistan this spring. Women make up about 7 percent of the Marine Corps, compared to 14 percent for the entire military. The Marine Corps has opened its infantry officer training school to women, but so far only two female Marines have volunteered. Both failed to complete the course this fall. (Federal News Radio)

Cybersecurity Update

  • It hasn’t yet released its cybersecurity executive order, but already the White House is making changes. The Hill newspaper reports, the pre-publication changes are the result of strong industry objections. One change states that the cybersecurity guidance does not prescribe any particular technology. Another change softens language about which commercial information technologies are to be identified as critical infrastructure at greatest risk of an attack. A third change assures that federal agencies don’t create regulations they are not entitled to by law. The Hill obtained a copy of the draft order. (The Hill)
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has promoted an insider to chief information security officer. Todd Scharf has been with the agency three years and has had several senior cybersecurity roles. The SEC said he has implemented industry-leading security measures. His promotion comes less than a month after the inspector general issued a damaging report on the agency division that monitors cybersecurity on Wall Street. The IG found Trading and Markets employees failed to encrypt sensitive information, brought their laptops to unsecured locations and downloaded personal apps onto their SEC devices. Before Scharf joined the SEC, he worked in information security at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.