News in Brief

A cyber RFP re-do, USDA's new web portal, ITES-3S updates and more

Cybersecurity

Cyber Command to reissue RFP in FY 2015

A week after scrapping a request for proposals for contracting services worth up to $475 million, Cyber Command said May 28 that it plans to reissue the RFP before the end of fiscal 2015.

"Given significant interest along with technical and clarification questions from industry, U.S. Cyber Command is reassessing and amending the RFP to give industry better fidelity into cyber requirements," the command's public affairs office said. "In the evolving cyber environment, we will continuously assess our contracts to ensure that we get the best products and outcomes at the best price."

The command on May 21 abruptly withdrew the solicitation for contract services that would have been for a five-year period beginning fiscal 2016.

USDA launches conservation web portal

Farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can save a trip to a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

The USDA announced May 28 the launch of the Conservation Client Gateway, a web portal that will allow individuals to:

  • Request NRCS technical and financial assistance.
  • Review and sign conservation plans and practice schedules.
  • Complete and sign an application for a conservation program.
  • Review, sign and submit contracts and appendices for conservation programs.
  • Document completed practices and request certification of completed practices.
  • Request and track payments for conservation programs.
  • Store and retrieve technical and financial files, including documents and photographs.

"What used to require a trip to a USDA service center can now be done from a home computer through Conservation Client Gateway," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The portal is currently available to individuals, though the USDA said it plans to make it available to business entities such as LLCs soon.

Army moves forward with ITES-3S contract

The Army has released its draft request for proposals for the $12.1 billion ITES-3S contract and extended the deadline for questions for its upcoming industry day, scheduled for June 10.

ITES-3S aims to provide enterprise-level support services for IT integration to the Army and other Department of Defense agencies. Task areas include cybersecurity services, information systems security, information assurance and IT services. The final solicitation is expected to be released in September.

Commerce taps ex-Google exec

Alan B. Davidson, a former Google executive and the current director of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, was named director of digital economy at the Department of Commerce.

Davidson is the former director for public policy for Google's office in Washington, D.C., where he led the company's government relations efforts until his departure in 2012.

DHS ponders public opinion on info sharing

The Department of Homeland Security wants to know what the public thinks about plans to establish of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations that would share cybersecurity information among private companies.

DHS issued a formal notice May 27 in the Federal Register about the cyber ISAOs that it was directed to form under President Barack Obama's February executive order aimed at bolstering private sector cybersecurity.

In issuing the executive order in February, the White House said ISAOs could be anything from a "non-for-profit community" to a "membership organization" to a single firm.

In its latest notice, DHS is seeking public input on the value of ISAOs in sharing cyber-threat information among private-sector stakeholders, as well as how the ISAOs would share, store and analyze threat information and measures they should take to protect it.

Comments are due by July 10.

NSA chief calls for Law of the Sea for the Web

National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers called for a safe and open Internet governed by international rules like those for maritime activity, Reuters reported.

"Can we create a 'global commons,' so to speak, that enables open, reliable, safe and resilient communications, a flow of information and ideas?" the report quoted Rogers as saying at a cyber warfare conference in Estonia.

DHS breaks ground on bio-ag defense facility

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture broke ground May 27 on a new biological and agricultural defense laboratory in Manhattan, Kan., adjacent to Kansas State University.

The $1.25 billion project, which will replace the aging 1950s-era Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York, will house research facilities to monitor pathogens that could threaten U.S. livestock and crops.

When it becomes fully operational in 2022, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility's key functions will include basic research, sample receipt testing and diagnosis, veterinarian training, countermeasures and vaccine candidate development, and vaccine efficacy trials.

The planned 570,000 square foot facility will contain a first-of-its-kind maximum biocontainment (ABSL-4) laboratory space that will allow researchers to study some of the most dangerous diseases that affect livestock and other large animals that could also be passed on to humans.

Construction has been underway on a heating/cooling support facility, called the Central Utility Plant, near the NBAF site since 2014.

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