News in Brief

Latest NIST security guide, open CRS, GSA spins up portal offerings and more

NIST seeks input on identity management guide for electric companies

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is seeking comments on a security guide for power companies.

The "Identity and Access Management for Electric Utilities" guide aims to help energy companies keep their systems safer by using better, centralized identity management.

NIST cited a Department of Homeland Security report that says nearly 10 percent of its cybersecurity incident responses for industrial control systems in fiscal 2014 were related to weak authentication or abuse of access authority.

NIST's draft guide touts the advantages of single-console facility access control.

Comments are due by Oct. 23 and can be submitted online here or by emailing

Transparency groups want open CRS reports

The Congressional Research Service provides detailed reports that guide lawmakers and staffers on key issues. Those reports, however, never see the light of day unless they are released by congressional requesters -- or if they are leaked.

Leaks are frequent. CRS reports on a variety of topics can be found online via subscription-based specialty news services, and they often find their way into the mainstream media. Now a group of government transparency advocates from across the political spectrum want CRS reports to be open by default.

The Sunlight Foundation, the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight, FreedomWorks, the Data Transparency Coalition and others have cosigned a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Rules Committee and the House Administration Committee seeking a "systematic solution that provides timely, comprehensive free public access to and preservation of non-confidential reports while protecting confidential communications between CRS and members and committees of Congress."

Funding for CRS exceeds $100 million annually, and the petitioners argue in their letter that the current system of distribution favors insiders and creates a system of "inequitable access to information about government activity that is produced at public expense."

GSA offers monitors, laptops via IT portal

The General Services Administration will introduce two products on its IT commodities web portal in August and September via GSA AdvantageSelect.

The tool lets agencies buy pre-competed items via the flagship IT portal, GSA Advantage.

In an Aug. 26 post on GSA's "Great Government Through Technology" blog, Erville Koehler, commissioner of GSA's Region 4, said the agency plans to test two GSA AdvantageSelect offerings this fiscal year: a 22-inch monitor this month and a 14-inch laptop in September.

According to GSA, contracting officers and purchase cardholders can enter the quantity they require on the GSA Advantage site and proceed straight to checkout, which turns a complex commodity-buying transaction into click and pay.

Iowa tests mobile driver's license app

Iowa's Department of Transportation launched a mobile driver's license trial program on Aug. 26, according to technology vendor MorphoTrust.

The company said Iowa DOT employees are the first in the nation to use its secure, smartphone app-based mDL software.

A test version of the software was delivered to a group of Iowa DOT employees who will assess and validate its use in situations in which physical licenses are typically presented. The software has visible and covert security features that are layered in the digital image seen on screen.

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