News in Brief

Spectrum incentives, reseller rules, NOAA hacked and more

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Matsui to reintroduce spectrum incentives for agencies

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) has announced plans to revive the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act in the 114th Congress. The legislation, co-sponsored with Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Matsui's partner in the Congressional Spectrum Caucus, would allow agencies some flexibility to spend 1 percent of funds obtained in the commercial sale of spectrum they give up for auction.

In a speech at the Americas Spectrum Management Conference, Matsui touted the example of the Advanced Wireless Services band, which was relinquished by the Department of Defense after years of wrangling with industry and legislators. This highly desirable swath of spectrum, the 1755-1780 megahertz band, goes up for auction beginning Nov. 13.

Under current practice, agencies are compensated for spectrum relocation costs, which may not benefit agencies that are relinquishing underutilized spectrum holdings. Matsui noted that under her legislation, the Defense Department could have realized $100 million if the auction generates $10 billion -- a figure well within industry estimates.

"I believe we have a real opportunity next Congress to inject more licensed spectrum into the marketplace and help achieve our spectrum goals," Matsui said.

SBA's IT reseller rule change sparks lawsuit threat

The chairman of the House Small Business Committee warned the Small Business Administration that its proposal to change rules governing small IT reseller contractors will likely land the agency in court.

The proposed changes, announced by the SBA in August, would take away an exemption for Information Technology Value Added Resellers (ITVAR) under North American Industry Classification System rule 541519. Under the proposed change, IT businesses with annual sales of more than $27.5 million would be considered large, and thus ineligible for small business preferences.

In a 12-page letter sent to the SBA on Nov. 10, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said the agency's reasoning for the changes ignores fundamental differences in how the federal government treats IT purchasing. IT, he wrote, "is the only category of goods and services to have its own regulatory framework for purchases -- the TechFAR -- since the purchases of technology involves commercial item procurements, commercial services procurements, noncommercial procurements, procurements involving sensitive and classified information, data rights issues and numerous other legislative and regulatory anomalies."

Graves urged SBA to withdraw the proposed rules, and wrote that it "is legally insufficient and subjects the SBA to substantial litigation risk." Graves also warned that Congress would consider "appropriate legislative action" if the SBA went ahead with the rulemaking.

Four NOAA websites hit with cyberattacks

A cyberattack hit four websites run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in recent weeks, a NOAA spokesman told FCW.

NOAA detected the attacks and "incident response" began right away, spokesman Scott Smullen said in an email, declining to say which websites were hit. The websites are fixed and running normally, and maintenance did not prevent the agency from issuing weather forecasts to the public, the statement said. Federal authorities are investigating the cyberattack.

The Washington Post first reported the incident, citing "hackers from China" as the likely perpetrators, and noting that "the agency did not notify the proper authorities when it learned of the attack."

Poll: Americans very concerned about government monitoring

New research makes clear that most Americans feel they have "lost control" of their personal information, and that government monitoring of online information is a serious concern.

Polling released Nov. 12 by the Pew Research Center showed that 91 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that companies now have too much control over data that details consumers' online searches, purchases, social media participation and other activities. Seventy-nine percent agreed that U.S. citizens should be concerned about the government's monitoring of phone and internet traffic, and 71 percent said they were personally concerned that their social-media postings might be tracked by government agencies.

Yet while agencies face a significant level of distrust from citizens -- particularly when it comes to sensitive data like social security numbers and medical information -- it's also clear that online citizen services will have to adapt and expand. Eighty-nine percent of respondents report going online at least once a day, and 63 percent are using mobile devices to do so, at least some of the time.

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