News in Brief

Counting down to Dec. 11, DHS' Einstein award and more

A snag for the spending bill?

Funding for federal agencies runs out later this week, and congressional leaders had hoped to have compromise legislation ready to release today.

But Roll Call reported that "negotiators are running into a host of issues, according to GOP aides, and there are enough sticking points that it now seems likely the plan's release will slip to Tuesday."

That could mean a House vote on the measure would be delayed until Thursday, Dec. 11 -- the same day that funding runs out.

"The playing field of questions is much larger than we previously realized," Roll Call quoted a senior Republican aide as saying.

DHS taps CenturyLink for Einstein work

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications has chosen CenturyLink for a one-year task order under DHS' intrusion detection and prevention program for federal civilian agencies, the firm announced Dec. 8.

CenturyLink will provide "managed security services and cybersecurity capabilities" in addition to its current Einstein 3 Accelerated service, which the telecom firm said is the first such intrusion-prevention service to reach initial operating capability at DHS. The task order is under a four-year contract CenturyLink won in March 2013.

E3A is the accelerated version of Einstein 3, the third iteration of the agency's automated intrusion-detection program that went live in July 2013. E3A builds on previous iterations' capabilities for analyzing traffic and detecting intrusions by contracting with Internet service providers to offer intrusion-prevention services and then sharing sensitive information with those ISPs.

As of Oct. 1, DHS was providing E3A services to nine federal civilian departments and has memoranda of agreement with 29 other agencies, a DHS spokesman said.

Administration expands support for computer science education

The Obama administration is celebrating Computer Science Education Week with a series of initiatives designed to enhance opportunities for K-12 students, with a special focus on programs for girls and minorities to improve their representation in technology fields.

The White House helped secure commitments from more than 60 school districts to offer computer science curricula, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. A host of technology firms have put up $20 million to help train computer science teachers.

Additionally, the National Science Foundation is backing efforts to create new advanced placement courses and a standardized test for high school students who want to accelerate their studies, with the first tests to be administered in 2017.

White House efforts also include plans to provide training and stage hackathons aimed at girls and minority youngsters.

ICYMI: Feds to get a four-day weekend over Christmas

President Barack Obama issued an executive order over the weekend to close the government on Dec. 26, making the day after Christmas a paid holiday for federal employees.

As with most things in life, however, the order came with exceptions. Agency leaders "may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty for reasons of national security, defense or other public need," the notice states.

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