News in Brief

Squeezing Defense IT, dinging FDIC and arguing for better access to space

capitol dome and bills

Appropriations Committee confirms $500 million Defense IT hit

The Senate Appropriations Committee on July 17 approved by voice vote a bill that would spend $500 million less on defense IT than requested by the Obama administration, while maintaining a keen focus on cybersecurity.

A committee summary of the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill justified the reduction to the administration’s request by saying that “trimming IT funding will help prioritize and better target non-cybersecurity IT investments in an era of fiscal constraint.” The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee had approved the bill, including the $500 million reduction, on July 15.

The bill would put $75 million toward the Rapid Innovation Fund, which helps small businesses develop advanced national security technologies. It would also boost investment in DOD medical research by $789 million, or 5 percent more than the fiscal 2014 Senate bill. Subcommittee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) hailed the legislation for protecting “America’s leadership at the cutting edge of innovation.”

There is no scheduled date for the full Senate to consider the bill, a committee spokesman said.

More work left for information security at FDIC

Much of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s information may be at risk because the agency has not fully implemented its information security program, a Government Accountability Office report suggests.

Despite having acted on 28 of 39 recommendations issued from 2011 to 2013, the FDIC did not fully implement controls for identifying and authenticating the identity of users, restricting access to sensitive systems and data, encrypting sensitive data, completing background reinvestigations for employees and auditing and monitoring system access, according to a report released July 17.

Specifically, GAO found the FDIC was not thorough enough in fully documenting and implementing information security controls, ensuring that employees and contractors received security awareness training, conducting ongoing assessments of security controls for all systems and remediating agency-identified weaknesses in a timely manner.

Lawmakers worried about getting U.S. into space

Talk of a new cold war has some lawmakers worried about U.S. reliance on Russian-made rocket engines for access to space.

“The United States is scrambling to maintain access to space and has no immediate options if the current supplier in Russia decides to cease export, or if geopolitical circumstances dictate that the U.S. is no longer able to engage in a partnership with its supplier,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said at a July 16 hearing.

At issue is the Russian RD-180 engine embedded in the Atlas 5 rocket, which the U.S. military uses to launch spacecraft.

While acknowledging that “long-term U.S. national security interests would be enhanced by shifting from the RD-180” to American-made engines, Alan Estevez, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, insisted at the hearing that “the United States is not dependent on Russian technology to launch our critical space assets.”

Army enterprise apps march into core data centers

GCN reports that the Army has been eliminating unused applications and migrating other enterprise applications and systems to designated core data centers as part of a Defense Department-wide initiative and the Army's consolidation of more than 1,100 data centers. About 800 unused apps have been terminated to date, out of about 11,000, saving on licensing fees and upgrades. Fewer apps also mean less potential for malware.

Air Force loses NetCents 2 protests

Washington Technology reports that the Government Accountability Office has recommended the Air Force re-evaluate proposals from Abacus Technology and D&S Consultants for the $5.8 billion NetCents 2 small business contract. Two other firms' protests were dismissed.

NetCents 2 covers network operations and infrastructure solutions for the Air Force. Nine losing bidders filed protests when the Air Force made awards to 12 companies in March. Decisions on the remaining protests are expected later this month.

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