News in Brief

18F builds cloud platform, FirstNet tweaks RFP and more

18F hacks a path to the cloud for agencies

The U.S. Digital Service and the General Services Administration's 18F have built a new Cloud.gov platform-as-a-service option to give agencies a stable, secure infrastructure that already complies with federal rules for building and deploying cloud applications.

Noah Kunin, director of delivery architecture and infrastructure services at 18F, told the audience at the Code for America Summit on Oct. 1 that he recognized the need for such a platform when he had to read through 4,006 pages of regulatory volumes.

The platform, which Kunin said will launch soon, is built as a true production cloud that will give agencies a ready-to-use infrastructure to build on.

Agencies will not have to wait for approvals or juggle requests when creating applications. They can gain authority to operate faster and easier, use the provided documents to generate system security plans and "develop, run and manage web applications without the complexity and cost of building and maintaining infrastructure," according to the site.

FirstNet board moves toward final RFP

The FirstNet board of directors tweaked its final request for proposals for an interoperable national public safety network for first responders to incorporate the national and regional partnerships that would ultimately build and operate the network.

Based on feedback from the public safety community and the private sector, the FirstNet board made changes to the draft RFP that was released in April; the changes were announced after meetings held Oct. 1 and 2.

The board also approved a resolution authorizing FirstNet management to release final interpretations of 64 statutory provisions that will have an impact on the final RFP and contribute to operations and network policies.

The approval provides, for example, a final definition for the term "rural" and confirms that any states or territories that deploy their own radio access networks must reinvest all resulting revenues into the nationwide network.

Board members also clarified that FirstNet would make the final selection among the bidders that respond to the final RFP, which is due out in December.

ITAPS requests meeting over DOD cyber contracting rule

The Information Technology Alliance for the Public Sector has called for the Defense Department to hold a public meeting to clarify an interim cyber breach reporting rule that ITAPS said has caused "a great deal of confusion" among contractors.

The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement rule on network breaches and cloud services issued Aug. 26 tightens restrictions on how contractors sell cloud services to the Pentagon, said Erica McCann, director of federal procurement at ITAPS.

"The sudden nature of this interim rule has left IT solutions providers scrambling to understand how this regulation fits into a whole host of other activities governing how a company protects its networks and data while providing cloud computing services to the government," McCann wrote in a blog post.

ITAPS wants DOD to hold a public meeting on the rule before the comment period closes on Oct. 26.

GAO opens Center for Audit Excellence

The Government Accountability Office launched its Center for Audit Excellence on Oct. 1. The center will offer training and services to auditors at the state and local levels and to international customers. Services include tailored training and technical assistance as well as needs assessments and mentorships for mid-level managers. The fees collected from those products will support the center's operations.

The center is primarily staffed by former senior-level GAO auditors and managers and overseen by the managing director of GAO's Strategic Planning and External Liaison Office, which leads collaboration efforts with worldwide accountability organizations, including the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions.

"The center will allow us to leverage GAO's broad institutional knowledge to help audit shops hone their skills," Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a statement.

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