VA IT problems, HealthCare.gov successes, a Senate surveillance bill and more

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Shutterstock image: open lock.

GAO: VA must do more on IT security weaknesses

The Department of Veterans Affairs has not done enough to resolve information security vulnerabilities on its systems, according to a the Government Accountability Office report released a day ahead of the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing that will feature testimony from Stephen Warren, head of VA's Office of Information and Technology.

The report concludes that "shortcomings" in security programs, including untimely security patching, means that VA systems are prone to exploitation.

The agency's efforts to remediate security problems, identified in past GAO report and by the agency's inspector general, are lagging. The report also notes that VA does not have a finalized policy for subjecting its widely used web applications to source code scanning to detect vulnerabilities.

The VA agreed with the eight remedial actions proposed by the GAO.

HealthCare.gov opens for enrollment with few problems

The second open enrollment season under the 2010 health care law kicked off Nov. 15, and the HealthCare.gov website appears to be functioning well under the strain of the flood of visitors.

About 500,000 visitors logged into the site on the first day of open enrollment, with about 100,000 sending in applications for health insurance, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

It's going to be a busy season for the site – more than 7 million people are covered by private insurers under the law, and all of these plans will need to be renewed or changed during the open enrollment season.

There is an "auto-renew" feature for users who don't update or renew coverage during the open enrollment period. Officials, however, are encouraging users to try the site’s improved comparison-shopping feature rather than auto-renew, to avoid being taken by surprise by possible premium increases.

Scattered problems with the site were reported, including issues from users who forgot their usernames or passwords, and users receiving unexpected error messages. But the experience was a far cry from the HealthCare.gov launch in October 2013, when only six users were able to enroll on the first day because of massive problems with the design and infrastructure.

Senate could take up surveillance bill

The Senate is expected to vote Nov. 18 on a procedural motion that would set the stage for debate on a bill that would place new limits on the bulk collection of telephone metadata and other business records for use by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would require the FBI to specify targets using identifiers such as a name, phone number or email address. The bill also would change rules on the use of national security letters, requiring more clarity about investigative targets and providing some flexibility for disclosing the receipt of government requests.

A similar measure, by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has already passed the House.

A letter from the CEOs of leading tech firms -- including Google, Apple and Microsoft -- urged the Senate to pass the bill. Members of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, which examined surveillance policy in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, noted in a letter that the Senate bill is "broadly consistent with the recommendations we made last year in our report on how to safeguard both liberty and security in a rapidly changing world."

A 60-vote threshold must be cleared to open debate. There is a bipartisan coalition for limiting the authority of the government to collect and scan bulk records on Americans, but it's not clear whether this particular bill has 60 votes. It's also unknown if the House would back the Senate measure in time to get a finished bill to President Barack Obama before the end of the current Congress.

There is at least some deadline pressure for Congress, however. The current authorities on records collection as spelled out in the 2001 anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act expire June 1, 2015.

Naval Air Systems Command computer contract goes to Northrop Grumman

Defense giant Northrop Grumman will provide the Naval Air Systems Command with computers as part of a program to upgrade the Marine Corps’ H-1 helicopter, the firm announced Nov. 17.

The FlightPro Gen III computer integrates advanced mission, weapons and video processing capabilities into an airborne computer, the firm said. The computers will be part of an avionics system in the helicopters’ cockpits. Northrop Grumman said it provides the flight program software that controls that avionic system.

Deliveries under the contract will be finished by October 2017, the firm said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.