News in Brief

Counting cloud contracts, defense approps, net governance and info sharing

Shutterstock image (by ra2studio): young businessman looking at a cloud concept wall.

Deltek: Federal cloud awards rebound

Federal cloud spending is rebounding in the first two quarters of fiscal 2015, compared to the same period a year ago, according to an analysis by contracting intelligence firm Deltek.

The big bump is due in part to the Defense Information Systems Agency's Enterprise Storage Solutions II contract. Overall, Department of Defense cloud awards totaled $563 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2015. That contributed to an overall first-quarter cloud spend of $668 million.

"We can say based on contract award data that fiscal 2015 has already been and will continue to be a strong year for federal agency cloud adoption," Deltek analyst Alexander Rossino wrote in a blog post. Agencies awarded $126 million in cloud contracts in the second quarter, up from $95 million in fiscal 2014. The uptick brings cloud awards back in line to the first two quarters of fiscal 2013, when the government made almost $800 million in awards, including several large vehicles with multi-billion dollar upsides.

The awards are just a signal for spending increases, but whether 2015 is a banner year for cloud will depend on how much agencies actually spend against these contracts.

Senate panel approves $575.9 billion in defense appropriations

The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved a measure June 9 that would allocate $575.9 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2016.

The bill includes $200 million for assessing cyber threats to defense equipment and $400 million for the Rapid Innovation Fund, an acquisition vehicle designed to increase the Pentagon’s collaboration with small businesses. The bill would also provide $400 million for a new “technology offset fund” for investments in “cutting-edge technologies,” according to a subcommittee summary.

The full committee is set to consider the bill June 11.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of a defense appropriations bill on June 2. That bill awaits the full chamber’s consideration. 

House panel agrees on Internet governance bill

After a few months of wrangling, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce committee will vote on a bill designed to make sure Congress has oversight of the planned handover of the Internet Domain Name System – essentially the address book of the Internet -- and certain other Internet governance authorities by the U.S. to a global multi-stakeholder group.

The panel will vote June 10 on amendments to create a new version of the Dotcom Act, an Internet governance bill that had previously only had support from subcommittee Republicans. The new language would require the National Telecommunications and Information Agency, which oversees the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority Contract, which is critical to the functioning of the global Internet, to certify that organizational changes to the International Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers required by the U.S. under the transition have taken place, and would give Congress 30 days to review NTIA's report on the transition before the U.S. can cede its role in the IANA function.

An earlier version of the bill proposed a one-year waiting period before the transition could begin, while the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress on the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed transition agreement.

"Congress has a role to play in its oversight of the NTIA, and this legislation properly balances respect for the multi-stakeholder process with our role in the U.S. government process," subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said.

After OPM hack, Senate could pair cyber, defense bills

After the disclosure last week of a massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management, Senate leaders are striving to pair a cybersecurity measure with the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.

On June 9, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attached his information-sharing bill as an amendment to the defense measure. Further, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled his intent to tackle cybersecurity through the course of the defense debate, according to multiple media reports.

Burr’s committee in March voted 14-1 to advance his bill, known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. The bill offers incentives for private firms to share more cyber-threat information with the government via a “portal” housed at the Department of Homeland Security, according to the committee.

But privacy groups and at least one likeminded lawmaker oppose the bill.

“Last week, the Senate made history when it passed the USA Freedom Act, taking a major step forward for Americans’ privacy. Passing CISA would be like taking two steps back,” Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute, a digital rights group, said in a statement.

Privacy hawk Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) put out a statement slamming the pairing of the two bills and vowing to make sure the Senate “has a full debate and a chance to offer amendments to add vital protections for American privacy and address the threats to our cybersecurity.” 

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