FCW Insider: Jan. 23

The latest news, quick hits and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

The Department of Homeland Security issued an emergency directive to counter exploitable weaknesses in the domain name system, which has impacted "multiple executive branch agency domains." The Jan. 22 warning applied to nearly all federal agencies and requires rapid action. Derek B. Johnson reports.

Agencies shuttered due to the shutdown sent out a second round of furlough notices in recent days, while the Office of Personnel Management updated guidance regarding leave accrual, retirement benefits and health care enrollment. OPM also warned feds working without pay about possible consequences for unauthorized absences. Chase Gunter has the story.

The Section 809 Panel has come up with some revolutionary changes to defense procurement. Steve Kelman suggests that the proposed source-selection changes, while not without risk, should be put to the test.

DHS acknowledged that the shutdown is hampering the ability of the agency to respond to contract solicitations. Mark Rockwell explains.

House Democrats are changing the structure of IT oversight. The IT Subcommittee is being scrapped and its duties folded into the Government Operations panel on the Oversight and Reform Committee. Adam Mazmanian has more.

Quick Hits

*** The FBI Agents Association released a 72-page report with feedback from agents on how the partial government shutdown has affected a range of FBI missions.

The report, which quotes agent anonymously, captures a handful of cyber and tech-related impacts. For instance, multiple agents relayed that due to the lapse in appropriations, they are unable to pay their confidential informants.

"In my situation, I have two sources that support our national security cyber mission that no longer have funding," said one agent. "They are critical sources providing tripwires and intelligence that protect the United States against our foreign adversaries."

Another agent said the bureau is currently unable to schedule interagency meetings to collaborate on cyber matters due to the shutdown, while another said Joint Terrorism Task Force officers from affected agencies are being locked out of FBI systems because their security clearance renewals aren't being passed on to FBI headquarters.

Earlier this month, the association expressed concern about the impact of accumulated debt taken on during shutdown, and some former national security officials have worried that the resulting financial instability may make some agents more susceptible to foreign compromise.

*** The House of Representatives passed a bill to use bug bounties to weed out vulnerabilities in State Department IT systems. The Hack Your State Department Act, from Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) passed the House 377-3. The bill tracks with a similar measure already signed into law that lets ethical hackers probe Department of Homeland Security systems for vulnerabilities.

*** The House Oversight and Reform committee announced a new crop of Democratic additions, including some of the most-watched progressive freshman lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is joining Oversight, along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Radisha Tlaib (D-Mich.), according to multiple press reports. Second-term California Democrat Ro Khanna, who sponsored the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, also is joining the panel.

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