News in Brief

DHS funding, election-season API, spectrum sharing and 'secure enough' mobility

Terry Halvorsen

Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen

Halvorsen emphasizes "secure enough" mobility

Data has a shelf life, and it is impractical to secure everything. That was the paradigm pushed by Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen at a July 9 industry event in Washington, D.C.

Like food, the Pentagon's IT boss said, data should come with an expiration date, because after a couple months, data is generally less valuable and therefore less worth securing.

"I think it's becoming a whole lot less about the devices and a whole lot more about…intelligently understanding the data," Halvorsen told a mobility conference hosted by AFCEA's D.C. chapter. "And I really do think you all can help us with that."

A self-described history buff, Halvorsen appealed to the data specialists in the audience to collaborate more closely with DOD, as he said industry did during World War II. "We've gotten away from some of those partnerships, and we definitely need that back today." The cyber threats of today make that all the more urgent, Halvorsen added, because cyberspace is both "the new warfare area" and "the new economic area."

18F releases beta API for FEC data

The General Services Administration's 18F pushed out an application programming interface, currently in beta, for Federal Election Commission data this week.

The initial release focuses on financial data, 18F said.

"Releasing the API before it's complete allows 18F and FEC to get public feedback and ensure the project will continue to grow and adjust to better serve the people," 18F's Lindsay Young wrote in a July 8 blog post announcing the release.

The FEC API fits neatly into the API-heavy vision of U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, and is part of the broader OpenFEC initiative at 18F.

"With [the beta] API, searching for candidates and committees will be easier and more interactive," wrote 18F's Young. "Information is organized around concepts like candidates, which are more welcoming than navigating buckets of information based on forms."

DHS appropriations bill moves forward

The House Appropriations Committee's Department of Homeland Security subcommittee, on a voice vote, favorably reported out a $39.3 billion fiscal 2016 discretionary funding bill to the full committee on July 9.

The funding total in the legislation is $337 million less than the fiscal 2015 enacted level and $2.1 billion less than President Barack Obama's request.

The bill, released July 8 to the subcommittee by the full committee, aims to trim funding for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while boosting cybersecurity and infrastructure funding. During the July 9 markup of the legislation, subcommittee Chairman John Carter (R-Texas) said the cybersecurity provisions were "fully funded," but there was some contention in the mark up over border security issues. The bill includes $1.6 billion for the National Protection and Programs Directorate -- $82.2 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level -- to protect critical infrastructure and prevent cyberattacks. That total includes $798 million to fund deployment of the third-generation EINSTEIN system to help secure .gov network traffic, and to improve the Federal Network Security program to detect and prevent cyberattacks and foreign espionage.

NIST looks to open research data

The National Institute for Standards and Technology funds a fair amount of scientific research. Now, as an outgrowth of the administration's Open Data policy, data from NIST-funded research is going to be opened up to the public. Beginning in October 2015, NIST plans to include standard language in its grants and contracts to let researchers know what they must do to open up their data.

NIST is not looking to present trade secrets or other confidential commercial information, or personal or medical information, or preliminary results and analyses from experiments or drafts of scientific papers. But NIST does plan to open academic and research papers, and their underlying data to the public. NIST posted its plans in a July 8 request for comment. NIST plans to use PubMedCentral, a free archive for medical research journals and other scholarly publications hosted by the National Institutes of Health, as the repository for articles presenting NIST-funded research. Additionally, NIST unveiled a plan to require a consistent and detailed means of locating articles through the use of metadata and other identifiers.

Administration nearly halfway on spectrum goals

Ubiquitous mobile broadband is a key plank in President Obama's technology policy. In 2010, the White House released an ambitious plan to repurpose 500 megahertz of federal and commercially licensed spectrum for use by providers offering high-speed mobile Internet access.

The administration is about halfway to meeting its goal, per a blog post by Paige R. Atkins, associate administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management at the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. Over five years, NTIA -- in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission -- has freed up 245 MHz of spectrum for use in licensed and unlicensed mobile broadband. In the last year alone, Atkins wrote, the move to free up commercially desirable Defense Department spectrum in the AWS-3 auction attracted about $45 billion in bids, and efforts to share the 3.5 GHz band have resulted in the availability of 165 MHz of spectrum.

More will come next year, as a planned reverse auction of existing broadcast TV spectrum licenses could yield as much as 144 MHz, according to government estimates. It's not clear what the path is to 500 MHz, and Atkins noted that the process "only increases in difficulty." He wrote that regulators would continue to look to government and commercial users to "identify additional spectrum for potential repurposing, including through shared access, while ensuring federal agencies have access to spectrum needed to perform their critical missions."

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