FCW Insider: Jan 8

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

The Department of Homeland Security's nascent Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is short-staffed during a key growth year because of the partial government shutdown. Can the new agency get off the ground operationally while responding to cyber 911 calls inside and outside government with 45 percent of staff on furlough? Derek B. Johnson reports.

The leadership shuffle in the top ranks of the Pentagon has outside observers focused on budget, acquisition and business reforms. Defense reporter Lauren C. Williams looks at what we should expect from Pat Shanahan's DOD.

Air gaps are considered a secure way of isolating sensitive IT systems, but they're inconvenient and carry their own set of risks. DARPA is looking for hardware and software security innovations that can better track and protect sensitive data as it moves from highly secure systems to insecure ones. Derek has more.

What's keeping some private firms from pursuing government contracts? Steve Kelman found out that the barriers to entry in the federal marketplace aren't what you think.

Quick Hits

*** The first leader of the General Services Administration's Emerging Citizen Technology Office is leaving the agency. Justin Herman started up ECTO in February 2017 as a gathering place for federal, state and local government agencies to collaborate and compare notes on innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics process automation, blockchain, social media, virtual and augmented reality.

In that role, Herman also spearheaded the GSA Future Services Now Symposium, at which 250 participants from government, industry and the public demonstrated and discussed a range of emerging technologies. Before standing up the ECTO office, he spent five years as GSA’s inter-agency SocialGov lead. Herman leaves GSA at the end of this week for a D.C.-based position with Twilio, a San Francisco-headquartered cloud communications platform-as-a-service company. No word from GSA on a potential replacement to run ECTO.

*** Mike Flynn, the House Homeland Security Committee's senior staff and counsel, will be moving over to the Senate. Flynn has accepted a new position as senior counsel on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he will focus on cybersecurity policy. He spent the past year and a half supporting the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, where he helped shape a number of cyber-related bills, including legislation to codify and reform the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation cybersecurity program run out of the Department of Homeland Security.

*** Oracle and Amazon Web Services are continuing their legal wrangle over the Pentagon's $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement, even as the federal court system faces a financial crunch arising from the partial government shutdown.

In the latest tit-for-tat in Oracle's lawsuit against the Department of Defense (which AWS joined as a defendant), AWS sought successfully to block an effort by Oracle to have its in-house counsel included in information protected under a court order. AWS called the request "extraordinary and unusual" and objects to an Oracle officer, rather than an attorney from an outside firm, having access to proprietary information included in the source selection process. Oracle countered in its own filing that its in-house lawyer was a specialist in litigation and not involved in other spheres of business decisions that would trigger her exclusion under precedent. 

Judge Eric G. Bruggink in the Court of Federal Claims sided with AWS on Jan. 3, ruling that "the hazards flowing from an inadvertent disclosure are an unwarranted risk." 

A Pentagon spokesperson said the ongoing trial isn't expected to interfere with DOD's plans to make an award in the JEDI procurement.

NEXT STORY: FCW Insider: Jan. 7

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