News in Brief

FedRAMP OKs IBM mobile, FAA warns drones and more

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IBM wins FedRAMP certification for mobility platform

IBM's cloud-based mobile management platform MaaS360 was authorized for use at all government agencies under the certification program that approves cloud providers after an intensive security check.

The service is the first mobile solution to get a provisional authorization to operate under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.

Maas360 allows for the management of smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs via the cloud, and it includes management of user-owned equipment attached to networks under bring-your-own-device policies.

Current government users include the General Services Administration, the Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

GAO wants better metrics on DOD/VA health record interoperability

The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs must do a better job of tracking their progress toward data interoperability, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DOD and VA are making progress toward the goal of ensuring that their electronic health record (EHR) systems work with one another and with systems outside government. Although the agencies have not met the deadlines established in the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, they have made progress on their data-sharing Joint Legacy Viewer and plan to extend it to private-sector medical providers, which increasingly provide care for veterans and the families of active-duty service members.

But full interoperability, which would allow clinicians to view data and make updates and changes to patient records hosted by either agency, will have to wait until VA and DOD deploy their new systems. A modernized version of VA's VistA EHR system is due to be deployed by the end of 2018, and DOD just made a long-anticipated award for its Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization, but that system won't be fully installed until 2022.

GAO's report recommends that VA and DOD identify and implement outcome-oriented metrics to assess the effect that improved interoperability is having on the delivery of health care. The report also seeks more clarity on how to measure the agencies' progress toward full interoperability.

In addition, GAO wants the VA/DOD Interagency Program Office to work on EHR interoperability and release new guidance that takes the revised metrics into account.

In their written comments included in the report, VA officials said those activities have been ongoing.

FAA issues stern warning to drone operators after close calls with planes

The Federal Aviation Administration has a message for drone operators: Don't fly near planes and helicopters.

The number of drones in the sky is way up this year. Pilots -- including those of large, commercial airliners -- reported spotting a total of 238 drones in 2014. This year, sightings had spiked to 650 by Aug. 9, according to the FAA.

Furthermore, 138 pilots in June and 137 pilots in July saw drones at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet.

In the statement announcing the new numbers, FAA officials said, "The FAA wants to send out a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time."

Drones have also been getting in the way of first responders. Firefighters battling wildfires in California have been forced to ground their helicopters for safety reasons when one or more drones were spotted in the sky near where they were fighting blazes.

Lawmakers have called on the FAA to act, and Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said in an Aug. 13 statement that "the proliferation of irresponsible UAS flights underscores the need for the FAA to finalize its small UAS rules and more aggressively enforce existing regulations."

Wyden asks intelligence org how it protected OPM records

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has sent a letter to a top U.S. intelligence official asking what his office has done to protect Office of Personnel Management records from foreign hackers.

In a statement released Aug. 12, Wyden said the National Counterintelligence and Security Center has "not publicly discussed the intelligence community's efforts to protect the more than 20 million federal personnel records and more than a million fingerprints that were breached by foreign hackers."

In a letter to NCSC head William Evanina, Wyden wrote: "The fact that such sensitive information was not adequately protected raises real questions about how well the government can protect personnel information in the future, especially as the security clearance process moves toward conducting ongoing evaluations and incorporating publicly available electronic information."

Navy CIO issues IT business case policy

Navy Chief Information Officer Robert Foster has issued a memo outlining Navy policy for assessing IT investments that exceed certain thresholds.

Navy officials must use either the Defense Department Enterprise IT Business Case Analysis template or an abbreviated Navy Business Case Analysis template when conducting such assessments.

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