FCW Insider: March 14

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

Chris Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency told Congress that policy changes will help agencies move to the cloud and accommodate teleworkers while still protecting federal networks. Derek B. Johnson has more.

Right now the CIOs at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are working through how to make their shared electronic health records software accessible via two different credentialing systems. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that funds VA is concerned that access issues could impact interoperability. Adam Mazmanian explains.

Now that they're in the majority, House Democrats are pressing for answers on why a planned move by the FBI to a suburban campus was derailed. Emily Murphy, who is the government's senior landlord as administrator of the General Services Administration, told a congressional panel that the FBI made the call to scuttle the move. Mark Rockwell explains.

As the Pentagon prepares to absorb background-checking responsibility, the Defense Digital Service is turning to industry for help. Chase Gunter takes a look.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) want to change the way the institution talks about its cybersecurity problems and see data on the scope of the threat – and be more transparent about past intrusions. Derek explains.

Quick Hits

*** The Army has spelled out a few more details on its enterprise-IT-as-a-service plan. The service is about 90 days into its test run, Army Cyber Command head Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty said during the March 12 AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Va. The Army is seeking to largely mimic the Air Force's approach to as-a-service.

Starting this year, Fogarty said, the Army will lean on industry for transport, end user devices, cloud services and others to facilitate network modernization. Army Futures Command is the first pilot for as-a-service but others are possible; a contract is expected to go out mid-summer.

*** The Transportation Security Administration plans a March 29 request for proposals from contractors that want to provide the agency with custom software development through its Flexible Agile Scalable Teams multiple award contracts.

The agency's Office of Information Technology plans to award FAST contracts through general and small business Blanket Purchase Agreements under the General Services Administration's IT Schedule 70 that will support integration and customization of mission support software-enabled systems.

*** Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced the formation of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus on March 13. Other caucus members include Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Cory Gardner (R-Col.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

In its March 13 statement, the Senate's AI Caucus called AI a "transformative technology' that could ripple into a number of fields from transportation, and health care to agriculture and national security. The group said it will connect members and staff with AI experts across industry, academia and the executive branch to help form substantive AI discussions and smart, tech-savvy policy.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Feb. 11 directing federal agencies to invest more money and resources into the development of AI technologies. The order created the American AI Initiative and is aimed at preparing the federal government for what many experts believe will be a global race around the technology over the coming decades.

*** The federal office charged with implementing FOIA policy last year launched an online portal to streamline FOIA requests, and since its debut almost exactly a year ago, has received about 9,000 requests. That represents about 1 in 10 of all FOIA requests. Melanie Pustay, who heads the Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy, told lawmakers at a March 13 House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing that the portal to date is "a definite improvement in efficiency."

Pustay said the portal's next iteration looks to ease agency reporting of FOIA requests and will include a feature to guide users to the right agency, among other improvements. She added that funding for these updates has been secured.

Agencies that are not currently interoperable with the portal are required to eventually integrate their FOIA process with the DOJ's central FOIA site. Justice's OIP is supposed to release its annual FOIA report Feb. 1, but Pustay said the shutdown has pushed that date back and that the governmentwide report would come out "within the next month or so."

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