News in Brief

DHS approps, CISPA returns, Senate Web and more


DHS bill would fund testing of mobile biometric exit app

The fiscal 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill released by the House Appropriations Committee on Jan. 9 would fund testing of a mobile biometric exit app for Customs and Border Protection to track visas.

Overall, the bill would provide $39.7 billion in discretionary funding for DHS for the remainder of the current fiscal year, an increase of $400 million compared to the fiscal 2014 enacted level, according to a summary of the legislation released by the committee.

The bill also would fully fund the E-Verify program, an online system that allows companies to verify that their employees are legally permitted to work in the United States.

The bill includes $753.2 million for cybersecurity operations in the National Protection and Programs Directorate and would increase funding for cybersecurity investigations conducted by the Secret Service.

The Science and Technology Directorate would get $1.1 billion, which is $116.3 million below the fiscal 2014 enacted level but $32.1 million above President Barack Obama's request, according to the summary.

The measure is expected to be considered on the House floor next week.

Ruppersberger revives CISPA

Citing the need for better cybersecurity after the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, on Jan. 8 Maryland Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger introduced a bill to encourage businesses to share cyber threat information with the government.

An earlier version of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act passed the House in 2013 but has stalled in the Senate in the face of opposition from privacy and civil liberties groups.

Lawmakers in favor of more cyber legislation hope the massive hack of Sony Pictures in November will rally public support for their cause. "The reason I'm putting [the] bill in now is I want to keep the momentum going on what's happening out there in the world," Ruppersberger told The Hill newspaper.

Some Senate sites slow to reflect GOP leadership

There's no switch that is flipped when a new party takes over the Senate to elevate the minority leadership into the majority where Senate committee websites are concerned. So for now, the newly constituted Senate, under the leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), looks pretty Democratic, to judge by certain committee sites.

Historically, things move slowly in the Senate, and website updates appear to be no different. Although the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Finance, Foreign Relations, and Armed Services committees' sites have been changed to reflect Republican leadership, the Appropriations and Labor committees, among others, still show Democrats wielding the gavel.

CIO functions are handled by the Senate's nonpartisan Sergeant at Arms office. The CIO maintains contracts for the content management systems used to create Senate websites, but office and committee staffs are in charge of communicating changes to websites, according to a Sergeant at Arms spokesperson. The Senate CIO doesn't play a role in supplying or altering content on the sites.

Tiny components could help secure the IT supply chain

Military researchers are moving ahead with their plan to protect the IT supply chain with tiny, inexpensive components, known as dielets, that can be added to electronics parts to validate their authenticity.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded a $4.1 million contract to Charles Stark Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Mass., to develop the dielets, under DARPA's Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense program.

Dan Hurley dies at 69

Dan Hurley, a longtime Commerce Department executive deeply involved in IT and telecommunications, died Jan. 2 at his Virginia home. He was one day shy of his 70th birthday.

Hurley retired in 2011 after 36 years of government service. Dun and Bradstreet's James Payne, who worked with Hurley on a variety of issues over the years, told FCW that Hurley was an official government representative in international discussions on cybersecurity and played a key role in "negotiations [over] the emerging model of governance for the Internet."

Hurley, who was also a Navy veteran, opened a consulting practice after leaving government and continued to work through AFCEA and other organizations on cybersecurity, Internet governance and other issues. He will be buried at Arlington Cemetery at a date to be determined. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.

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