*** A career White House employee who works as an adjudications manager in the Personnel Security Office came forward as a whistleblower to complain to Congress about the politicization of the security clearance process, according to a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings stated that the whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, told committee staffers that clearances "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security." Newbold identified for the committee 25 individuals whose clearances were granted over the recommendations of professional staff. Cummings supplied that information to Cipollone along with a request for information on named individuals and a warning that the committee would begin authorizing subpoenas for documents and testimony at an April 2 meeting.
In response, committee Republicans released a document describing their take on Newbold's testimony, asserting among other things that the substance of her complaints had to do more with her former manager than any alleged politicization of the clearance process and that she lacked visibility into the actions of senior officials as they impacted (or did not impact) the award of security clearances.
*** The Department of Energy is looking for a vendor to run the Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Cybersecurity in Energy Efficient Manufacturing.
The Energy Department announced the creation of the institute in late February. Recently, agency chief Rick Perry told a House appropriations subcommittee that the institute, which has a proposed budget of $70 million, will be overseen by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by and the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response.
In an updated funding announcement, the department said it wants to initially work closely with the funding winner, but after five years, spin the institute out as a self-sustaining entity responsible for pursuing early-stage research and development to combat evolving cybersecurity threats to the emerging, next-generation energy technologies.
The institute will research cyber protections and standards for industrial control systems used in the emerging energy infrastructure and cyber protections and standards for the pieces and processes used in those systems.
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