News in Brief

HealthCare.gov report, cloud working groups at NIST, DynCorp wins again and more

Healthcare.gov start page

Senate Republicans release critical HealthCare.gov report

GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa charge that the developers of the HealthCare.gov website inside the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "ignored countless red flags" in the run-up to the Oct. 1, 2013, launch of open enrollment under the 2010 health care law.

In a report issued June 19, the GOP lawmakers argue that a lack of coordinated project management inside CMS or a vendor acting as general contractor led to the failure of key components of the site. According to the report, contractors and IT personnel inside CMS, "were aware for months of gaping holes in testing, critical security concerns, and failures under the most modest simulations."

The report aggregates pre-launch reports and other government and contractor documents that have been obtained and previously made available by congressional committees, but it provides a useful timeline of the events leading up to the Oct. 1 launch, efforts by vendors and officials to explain the failures, and a current price tag for HealthCare.gov-related IT expenditures. The federal government obligated $834 million on IT contracts related to HealthCare.gov and other IT through February 2014, according to the answers supplied by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The fiscal 2015 budget request from the Obama administration includes $200 million for IT that supports the health care law, including new development and operations and maintenance for the system.

NIST to host cloud working groups

With the FedRAMP deadline in the rearview mirror, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cloud Computing Program is turning to industry and government alike to tackle the biggest cloud-related issues government-wide.

The cloud working groups will address requirements NIST laid out in its “U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap 1.0” in 2011.The NCCP has identified three target areas on which to focus: cloud services, federated community cloud, and interoperability and portability.

The Interoperability and Portability for Cloud Computing working group aims to demystify the issues behind interoperability and portability needed for cloud computing, and also what connections exist between the two.

The second group will look at the roadmap’s Requirement 5, “Frameworks to support seamless implementation of federated community cloud environments.” This group will define the term “federated cloud” and develop a path to its implementation.

The third group will work with the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture to establish consistent categories of cloud services to help customers get a better understanding of the service and hardware they’re purchasing.

NIST is hosting a teleconference June 25 to kick start the effort, and will be discussing group goals, member roles and responsibilities, meeting schedules and deadlines for those interested in any of the working groups.

DynCorp wins State Department contract -- again

ManTech International and URS Federal have lost their second bid to unseat DynCorp International from the State Department’s $165 million Vanguard 2.2.3 contract, Washington Technology reports.

DynCorp now has won the contract twice. ManTech and URS protested after the first award in July 2013, which led State to pull back the award and re-open the bidding. State uses the contract to support its IT modernization and consolidation program.

Los Alamos gets new system for unclassified research

GCN reports that Los Alamos National Laboratory has installed a new high-performance computer system, dubbed Wolf, that will be used for unclassified research. Initial science research projects to use Wolf include climate, materials and astrophysics modeling.

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