News in Brief -- Citizen Science, DSS modernization

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Shutterstock image: the White House.

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White House pushes crowdsourcing in science

Federal agencies should adopt more citizen science and crowdsourcing projects to address societal and scientific challenges, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In a memo released Sept. 30, the OTSP outlined what principles agencies should apply in order to encourage and support future projects.

In order to advance citizen science and crowdsourcing, the OSTP outlined specific actions for agencies to designate coordinators for crowdsourcing projects and the creation of a centralized website to announce upcoming projects and encourage participation. OTSP also released a first-ever Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit to guide federal agencies in the design and management of these projects. Included in the toolkit are tips for producing a successful project, agency case studies and best management practices. 

Child labor awareness? There's an app for that

The Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs pushed out a report and app aimed at spreading awareness of the global child labor situation on Sept. 30. The tools were unveiled at the "Power of Open Data: Ending Child Labor in the Digital Age" event sponsored by business incubator 1776.

The 2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report showed some 60 percent of the 140 countries surveyed with moderate to significant improvement on child labor issues. The app puts ILAB's extensive child labor information -- from raw data to laws to information on goods produced with child labor -- in one searchable, offline-available format.

"Whether facing economic instability, health epidemics, natural disasters, political conflict or chronic poverty, we as a global community have an obligation to protect our children," Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu said in a statement. "This report and the new mobile app are intended as practical tools to identify the problem and help governments around the world firm up the foundations of such protections, so that children don't fall through the cracks."

House panel approves slate of DHS bills

The House Homeland Security Committee on Sept. 30 passed on to the full House for its consideration 15 bills aimed at reforming and improving key elements of the Department of Homeland Security. The package of bills marked up and passed out of the committee includes:

-The DHS Science and Technology Reform and Improvements Act of 2015, which aims to tighten up management and organization at DHS Science and Technology directorate.

-The Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act, which would authorize a National Computer Forensics Institute.

-The DHS Cybersecurity Strategy Act of 2015, which tasks the department secretary with drawing up strategic and operational goals and priorities and provide details on the cyber programs, policies, and activities that are required to successfully fulfill those goals.

-The DHS Clearance Management and Administration Act, to make DHS designate the sensitivity level of national security positions requirements consistently across its component agencies.

-The DHS Insider Threat and Mitigation Act of 2015, to bolster training and education efforts to identify, prevent, mitigate, and respond to insider threat risks.

-The Department of Homeland Security Support to Fusion Centers Act of 2015, which would assess DHS personnel deployment levels at fusion centers nationwide.

Leidos wins $16.7 million Defense Security Service contract

The Defense Security Service has awarded Leidos a contract related to the agency's move to a modernized National Industrial Security System, an automated information system that is replacing the agency's legacy database. The award is for $16.7 million, with an initial task order of $6.8 million, according to an award notice.

DSS, the defense agency charged with working with industry to protect classified information, made clear in its description of the project that its approach to enterprise IT is not working.

"DSS currently conducts its critical missions without an integrated enterprise information technology architecture," the agency wrote. "The lack of an enterprise IT solution results in cumbersome, inefficient and exceedingly manual processes that jeopardize the success of DSS missions." The new industrial security system is supposed to change all of that by enabling "stronger and timelier synthesis of information," the agency said.

Code for America recognize 13 gov tech newbies

Some new and innovative government tech applications are getting a moment in the spotlight.

The 13 inaugural Technology Award winners were announced at the 2015 Code for America Summit on Sept. 30, with the nonprofit and Google for Entrepreneurs working together to shine the spotlight on new entrants into the government technology space.

"As governments struggle to meet the public's needs in a digital era, the tools and platforms that public servants use must do a better job, and the marketplace for suppliers to government must change," Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, said in a statement. "These examples, which include the work of companies, public servants, and engaged citizens, set a higher bar for government technology to which the whole sector must aspire."

Winners include Casebook, a streamlined child welfare management software; App 2.0, which underpins HealthCare.gov insurance applications; Open Justice Broker, a criminal justice information-sharing platform; and SimpliCity, an Ashville, N.C., communication platform connecting municipalities and citizens. Details on all 13 winners are available here.

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