Pentagon oversight, cyber sharing, a DISA departure and a SOTU preview

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) at a July 2012 joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee for Veterans Affairs (DOD Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)

Thornberry promises 'fair, aggressive' oversight of Pentagon

In his first speech as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Texas Republican Mac Thornberry made the case that Congress is the only government body capable of significantly reforming the Pentagon's bureaucracy, and promised "fair, aggressive [and] thorough" oversight.

Program managers at the Defense Department are all too often hamstrung by "the accumulation of regulations and bureaucratic processes" imposed by Congress, Thornberry said in an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Thornberry takes the Armed Services gavel at the same time that Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall is finalizing guidance for his latest round of acquisition reform.

In an interview with FCW last May, Thornberry said he was concerned that restrictions on communication between the Pentagon and industry were hurting the acquisition process.

Obama, Cameron agree to cyber defense, academic exchanges

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have agreed to several bilateral cybersecurity measures, from establishing a joint cell for intelligence agencies to founding academic exchanges on cybersecurity.

British intelligence agencies, the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are setting up a "joint cyber cell" in each country where the agencies can share data and delve deeper into cyber defense, the White House said.

At a White House press conference, both leaders made a point of acknowledging privacy concerns that might come with closer collaboration in cyberspace. "We're not asking for backdoors," Cameron said. "We believe in very clear front doors through legal processes that should help to keep our countries safe."

Top DISA cybersecurity official to retire

Mark Orndorff, a top cybersecurity official at the Defense Information Systems Agency, will retire after more than 30 years in government, according to multiple media reports. The former Army officer recently assumed the title of risk management executive after an agency reorganization. His last day at DISA will be Jan. 31, according to a Federal News Radio report.

Digital Service shares in State of the Union spotlight

Every president since Ronald Reagan has seated special guests with the first lady for the State of the Union address, and then given them shoutouts during the speech. This year, Kathy Pham of the U.S. Digital Service is among those expected to get a moment in the spotlight.

The White House announced that Pham, a second-generation American who is working on digital healthcare for veterans, would be in Michelle Obama's box for the Jan. 20 event.

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