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White House fellows, dire debt predictions and more

White House

White House Fellows include a few techies

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program isn’t the only place bringing innovators into government. The White House Fellows program -- which predates the PIF program by nearly a half-century -- has an impressive line-up for its 2014-2015 class, including a few fellows of particular interest to the federal IT community.

Jonathan Dorsey is co-founder of the Impact Careers Initiative at the Aspen Institute, which does research to recruit talented people to public-impact work. His resume includes several different initiatives working to encourage and bolster public service, and he was awarded the Next Generation Award from the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Scott Handler, a U.S. Army major, was second-in-command at the 782nd Military Intelligence (Cyber) Battalion. He also served as special assistant to the senior leadership team that created the U.S. Cyber Command.

Edward Sheen is the course director leadership/strategies for Healthcare Delivery Innovation at the Stanford Healthcare Consulting Group, as well as an internist and former clinical fellow at Stanford University. He’s advised senior leadership at the Office of Management and Budget, Blue Shield and various start-up companies.

CBO forecasts near-term improvement, then climbing deficits and debt

The Congressional Budget Office released new federal deficit projects on Aug. 27, estimating that fiscal 2014 will close with a deficit of $506 billion -- $170 billion lower than the fiscal 2013 shortfall. Despite the downward trend in recent years, however, CBO predicts the annual deficit will increase at steady rate for the next few years and then escalate sharply after fiscal 2019 -- provided that federal tax and spending laws remain as they are.

CBO also projects that by fiscal 2024, the federal debt held by the public could equal 77 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. As recently as fiscal 2007, publicly held debt equaled just 35 percent of GDP.

Many fiscal policy experts argue that debt levels greater than 60 percent of GDP threaten a nation's economic stability. CBO warns that the projected levels are likely to “[restrain] economic growth in the long term, [give] policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges, and eventually [increase] the risk of a fiscal crisis.”

GSA announces contract for its own cyber protection

The General Services Administration's Office of the Chief Information Officer has tapped a Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) small business in a $33 million contract to defend the agency from cyberattack.

Valiant Solutions, GSA announced, will provide enterprise-wide IT security for the agency's IT operations. Valiant became a provider under GSA IT Schedule 70 in the spring of 2013.

The agency said its OCIO and Valiant will work together to improve GSA’s security posture through real-time security operations and proactive policy, training and governance activities.

A key component of the contract, said GSA, will be providing the forensic services to carry out a full investigation of major security events and prevent attempted attacks from disrupting agency priorities.

The contract comes just over a year after GSA helped the Department of Homeland Security secure blanket purchase agreements with 17 contract teams to provide Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation services to agencies. Valiant is also subcontractor awardee on the DHS CDM, Tools and Continuous Monitoring as a Service (CMaaS).

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