Quick Hits for Oct. 17

*** Mark Kneidinger, deputy director of the newly created National Risk Management Center at the Department of Homeland Security, said the "revolving door" among CIOs and other federal IT executives in government must be addressed if IT modernization is going to succeed.  The average tenure of CIOs at major federal agencies has dropped from "about three and a half years" when he started working for the federal government to six to eight months now, Kneidinger said at an Oct. 16 event hosted by the Consortium for IT Software Quality.

"The tenure is really getting critical," he said. "If we don’t start working to expand that timeframe, if we don't start dealing with what is driving the CIOs and CISOs out, we're going to continue to have that revolution."

*** Cyber threats, a lack of suitably cleared personnel and lax contractor IT security are among the top management challenges facing the Treasury Department, according to the agency's inspector general. A new IG report highlights the need for further micro-segmentation of Treasury's networks to ensure that a cyberattack doesn't spread. Auditors called on agency leaders to pay more attention to contractors and subcontractors who touch their systems, with cloud providers a top concern.

Vacancies at many high-level positions and the lack of suitably cleared personnel are affecting Treasury's ability to handle and process high-value work. While the agency has improved its hiring pace, the problem remains a top concern for the Government Accountability Office, the Office of Management and Budget and Treasury's IG, which worries that agency officials will struggle to balance and align IT priorities on modernization, cybersecurity and other requirements in a time of budget uncertainty.

*** The Transportation Security Administration rolled out a four-step plan to incorporate biometric identification capabilities for U.S. travelers. In a technology implementation roadmap made public by TSA on Oct. 5, Administrator David Pekoske said the agency's plan initially capitalizes on joint work with Customs and Border Protection to implement biometric identification systems at U.S. airports. Last August, TSA began a test of facial recognition technology for international travelers at Los Angeles International Airport, after an initial test in 2017 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. TSA also plans to leverage existing travel data sources and biometric technology to push new opt-in capabilities for domestic travelers, then develop the infrastructure to support those features. The agency will collaborate with CBP, commercial airlines and aviation stakeholders to build on operational capabilities of each, to speed passengers through the entire trip process, from electronic reservations from home, to passenger "bag drop" and other boarding processes at the airport itself.

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