News in Brief

e-QIP returns, appropriators back credit protection, senators prod SEC on open data

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e-QIP background check system back up

After nearly a month of downtime, the Office of Personnel Management began re-enabling user access to the background check system e-QIP on July 23, the agency announced.

The loss of e-QIP sparked widespread concerns when it was yanked offline because of security concerns, but OPM said the preemptive move has bolstered security. The system had been down since June 26, the agency noted in a statement. (OPM had announced the move the following Monday, June 29.)

"This action was not the direct result of malicious activity on this network, and there is no evidence that the vulnerability in question has been exploited," said OPM spokesman Sam Schumach in an emailed statement. "OPM took this step proactively, as a result of our comprehensive security assessment, to safeguard the ongoing security of the network."

The system isn't completely usable yet, as the e-QIP website noted on the afternoon of July 23 that user access will be restored via "limited user testing."

"OPM is working closely with agencies to re-enable e-QIP users incrementally in an effort to resume this service in an efficient and orderly way," Schumach said. "During the time that the system was offline, OPM worked with cybersecurity experts from the Office of Management and Budget's Office of e-Government and Information Technology, the Department of Homeland Security, and other interagency partners to implement security enhancements [which] further enhanced password protections, secured the transmission of data within the application, and implemented additional protections against external threats."

Senate panel votes to extend credit protection to feds in OPM hacks

The Senate Appropriations committee agreed to a measure that would extend to 10 years credit monitoring and credit protection for feds whose personal information was compromised in the hacks of the Office of Personnel Management databases.

The protection was proposed as an amendment to the General Government and Financial Services appropriations bill by ranking member Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) The bill would provide $264.5 million in funding for OPM, which is $7.5 million below the level requested by the Obama administration, but $24.3 million more than was included in the fiscal 2015 appropriation. The bill would fully fund the administration's request to improve IT security at OPM.

The General Government bill allocates $25 million to the federal CIO and the IT policy team at the Office of Management and Budget, a budget line formally known as Information Technology Oversight and Reform. That amount is $5 million more than in fiscal 2015 but $10.2 million below the administration's request. The White House is looking to expand the ITOR budget to fund the U.S. Digital Service. A House version of the bill funded ITOR at $20 million.

Senators prod SEC on double data standard

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission to simplify its open data requirement.

Since 2009, the SEC has required corporations submit disclosures in both traditional document form and in an open data format: Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).

In a July 21 letter, the Virginia Democrat and Idaho Republican noted the positive effects of XBRL, but said the dual requirement has left corporations spending unnecessary resources on two separate documents, while SEC examiners tend to focus on the traditional, non-searchable disclosures, potentially missing errors in the XBRL filings.

Warner and Crapo called on the SEC to move to an XBRL-only requirement.

"We believe that the Commission's adoption of inline XBRL will allow the original goals of the XBRL rule to be realized," the senators wrote. "The Commission seems poised to use open data to democratize access to financial information and enhance transparency."

The Data Transparency Coalition noted the letter in a July 23 blog post, with Justin Duncan writing that the dual requirement was "the central reason [that the SEC's] open-data corporate financial reporting has failed so far." Duncan also noted that "[t]his marks the first time a Republican Senator has spoken out in support of open data in financial regulatory reporting."

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

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