News in Brief

DHS funded, finally -- plus data fusion and a Networx extension

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House funds DHS for FY 2015

Washington breathed a sigh of relief the afternoon of March 3 as the House passed a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the year.

The House voted 257-167 for the measure, which would not overturn President Barack Obama's plan to allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, ending weeks of anxiety at DHS over its operational situation.

Without the measure, DHS would have furloughed 30,000 workers and left thousands more working for no pay -- and possibly delayed new cybersecurity technology implementation.

House panel delves into cyber threat

Committees in both chambers of Congress are teeing up possible cybersecurity legislation with hearings exploring the ongoing threat posed by cyber adversaries to U.S. business, infrastructure and government institutions. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations got an overview in a March 3 hearing that featured academic experts and practitioners.

One important element that emerged from the oversight hearing is that businesses and institutions can do much more to protect themselves, even without legislation that would require minimum best practices for the safeguarding of data, or measures to allow the government to investigate attacks on commercial networks in real time. "We can make it a lot harder for the attackers," said Herbert Lin, a scholar at Stanford University. "There are known technology and procedures we can deploy to improve security, but we don't use them."

GSA aims to extend Networx contracts

Three days after the General Services Administration released a draft request for proposals for its next major telecommunications acquisition vehicle, the agency announced that the current edition will be sticking around a little while longer.

The Networx Universal and Networx Enterprise contracts, through which agencies spent $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2014, are slated to expire in March and May of 2017, respectively. Mary Davie, the assistant commissioner for integrated technology services in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, wrote in a March 3 blog post that her agency is "beginning discussions with current Networx contractors for three-year extensions" on both contracts, "to provide time for a phased and orderly transition to EIS."

EIS refers to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contracts -- the main vehicles for GSA's Network Solutions 2020 strategy. GSA hopes to have a final EIS RFP ready by July, and to award contracts by January 2017.

Army aims to speed up data fusion on battlefield

The Army's Communications-Electronic Research, Development and Engineering Center has issued a request for information to industry asking for ideas on building a common architecture to handle multi-modal data, Defense Systems reports.

With the military adding more sensors in battlefield scenarios, one of its next goals is better data fusion—the ability to combine data from multiple, sometime disparate, sensor systems -- satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, radar -- and create a near-real time operational picture that can be viewed from the field.

"The ultimate goal," the RFI states, "is to process all collected information, make it accessible and discoverable through a standards-based data management framework, and reduce the processing and exploitation time between sensor and analyst."

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