FOIA portal, VistA bid, Army cyber and SANS templates

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Shutterstock image: digital record infrastructure.

18F developing government-wide FOIA portal

The federal web development team 18F is building a one-stop portal for requests for government documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The move advances a key goal of the Obama administration's open government action plan -- the creation of a consolidated online FOIA service.

18F is developing the portal in collaboration with a FOIA Task Force with representatives of the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency (an early participant in FOIAonline.gov, a FOIA request portal that covers multiple agencies), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget.

18F has released an early prototype on what a government-wide FOIA portal might look like. According to a blog post, the new tools are designed to streamline the request process, and to provide access to records and materials that have already been released under previous FOIA requests. There's no timeline yet on when a portal might be ready for beta testing or public launch.

Report: VA's VistA will factor into the military health record procurement

The Department of Veteran Affairs' homegrown VistA electronic health record will play a part in the scrum to win the military's planned $11 billion health record modernization contract.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is leading the bid, which will be joined by General Dynamics, VistA integrator DSS Inc. and electronic health record provider MedSphere.

The bid will be the first entry involving an open source system. PwC is proposing what it calls an "open architecture" system that it says will support integrating with the Defense Department's legacy systems, but also be responsive to changes in technology.

"Given the rapid evolution of today's new health economy, technology driven disruption is inevitable. Our approach fosters continued innovation and adaptability, without the need to be being locked in to one technology," PwC's Kelly Barnes said in an emailed statement.

The inclusion of VistA should be no surprise. Christopher Miller, the program officer leading the procurement told a Senate panel in April that, "based on current market research, a VistA-based solution will likely be part of one or more potential solutions proposed in response to the DoD solicitation."

Army set to launch cyber branch

A new cyber branch the Army has been mulling could be up and running as early as next month, the Army News Service reported Sept. 5. Such a branch would equate cybersecurity with other Army career paths like infantry.

Command Sgt. Rodney Harris, part of Army Cyber Command, told the news service the new branch could be announced at an annual networking forum for the Army, to be held Oct. 13 to 15.

Col. Carmine Cicalese, the Army's chief of cyberspace and information operations, said recently that the branch would help build the service's cybersecurity expertise in the long run. Harris echoed that aim in the Army News Service report, saying the Army needed to double its amount of cyber specialists over the next two years.

SANS Institute offers updated security policy templates

Security education provider SANS Institute released 27 updated information security policy templates government agencies can use to ensure their security policies are practical, up-to-date and reflect real-world experience, GCN reports.

The update was produced by a team of security industry professionals chaired by Michele D. Guel, a senior security architect at Cisco Systems, and a 26-year veteran of the cybersecurity industry.

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