News in Brief

18F's API standards, GSA's newest dashboard, FCC's cyber-obligations and more

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18F releases API standards

GSA's 18F innovation incubator has released the first version of its application programming interface standards -- a set of guidelines and recommendations for API production.

The standards are part of a living document and emphasize a focus on goals rather than specific tools. The standards incorporate some opinions, but tend to stay technology-neutral. For example, the 18F standards don't allow for the use of JSONP because of the security and performance concerns it raises, according to an 18F blog post.

"It is our intention that every 18F API meet these standards, to help us ensure a baseline quality and consistency across all APIs we offer now and in the future," Alan DeLevie and Eric Mill said in the blog post.

18F began drafting its standards after forking, or creating an alternate version, of the White House's API standards. "By publishing their standards in the open so others could benefit, the White House set an important example," DeLevie and Mill said. The authors of the standards encourage users to fork GSA's API standards and modify them to meet their agencies' needs.

New dashboard for GSA purchasing program

The General Services Administration launched an interactive, real-time dashboard for its Connections II purchasing program over the Fourth of July weekend.

In a July 14 blog post, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Services' Office of Integrated Technology Services, said the tool allows users to view and analyze non-classified data on federal IT purchasing activity awarded under GSA's Connections II. Connections II covers network and telecom equipment, labor, building, and campus infrastructure solutions.

The dashboard creates a single point of access for all data on Connections II task order obligations, number of awards, agency/bureau, and industry partner activity.

The shared data, said Davie, can be turned into actionable information that will help agencies make better buying decisions and lead to smoother bid and proposal processes. It can also be used to better understand purchasing trends and conduct market research.

Disease detection project tested at World Cup

Soccer wasn't the only thing Brazilians were watching last week. GCN reports that public health experts from Brazil's Ministry of Health, using tablet-based software designed by the Centers for Disease Control, tested a disease detection system that gives researchers the ability to identify outbreaks earlier and with more precision.

The tablet-based system and the Epi Info software driving it are seen as an important advance in helping to identify outbreaks earlier and with more precision.

Info sharing recommended to combat grid threat

A yearlong study of the U.S. electric grid's vulnerabilities to cyberattacks recommends that the Federal Communications Commission increase its information sharing with utility companies.

The report, produced by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said the FCC should give utilities access to "spectrum and communications necessary for information sharing and service restoration" during a cyber incident.

An exchange program in which government employees temporarily work for private utilities would be another way to improve public-private cooperation on cybersecurity, said the report, which was co-chaired by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.

SpaceX a go to compete for DOD launch vehicle

Defense Systems reports that the Air Force has certified the three successful launches required for SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch system, amid disputes over the length of the certification process and an ongoing court challenge to a contract award.

The company is now qualified to compete for the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, the Defense Department's space launch program.

Note: This article was updated on July 16 to correct Alan DeLevie's first name.

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