FCW Insider: May 17

Top stories, quick hits and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

*** Rep. (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, is asking White House Counsel for copies of any ethics waivers granted to administration officials, including 10 waivers never made available to the Office of Government Ethics. Cummings is making a similar request of the heads of 24 major agencies. 

A supply chain task force is laying groundwork for new restrictions targeting foreign-directed threats to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure. Co-chair Bob Kolasky said at a conference that a big part of the effort includes creating a list of critical functions. Derek B. Johnson takes a look.

At his confirmation hearing to take the job of deputy secretary on a permanent basis, Jim Byrne suggested that there was a path to finishing the agency's 10-year, $16 billion electronic health record modernization project ahead of schedule. Adam Mazmanian reports.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford called the coming data strategy, expected in the next 60 days, "one of our top IT-related reform efforts." Lauren C. Williams has more.

Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, said that a planned online acquisition marketplace is a key part of the agency's push to become more efficient and customer focused. Mark Rockwell explains.

Quick Hits

*** The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed two election security-related bills on May 16, the Defending Elections against Trolls from Enemy Regimes (DETER) Act and the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act.

The DETER Act, offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Judiciary chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would allow the government to promptly deport any non-U.S. citizen residing in the United States who has been found by the Departments of Justice, State or Homeland Security to be engaged in improper interference in an American election. The bill is separate and distinct from a bill sporting the same acronym -- the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act, another bill that has been introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act is designed to fix a loophole identified by Justice Department lawyers, who believe the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act may not explicitly prohibit the hacking of voting machines that aren't connected to the internet. The legislation would fix that loophole, making it a federal crime to hack into a state voting system whether it's connected to the internet or not.

Despite unanimously passing the committee, neither bill may go much farther. In a May 15 Senate Rules Committee hearing, Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had relayed he was unlikely to approve floor debate for any election security-related bills, because he has found "this debate reaches no conclusions."

Elijah CummingsPat Cipollone

Cummings is especially concerned with any waivers that authorize political appointees to conduct government business despite potential conflicts of interest.

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