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NDAA would change cyber acquisition, Gross tapped for CIO post at FDIC and more

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NDAA would change cyber acquisition

The fiscal 2016 defense policy bill that has cleared the House and Senate but faces a likely veto from President Barack Obama would make significant changes to how the Pentagon can acquire cyber technologies.

The National Defense Authorization Act would give U.S. Cyber Command authority to acquire and sustain the cyber tools it deems critical to its mission. An acquisition executive at the command would carry out that job, with the power to work with the military services on joint acquisition projects. The bill caps the command's annual acquisition spending at $75 million from fiscal 2016 to 2021.

The legislation also stipulates that the Defense secretary can respond to a cyberattack by designating a senior official to quickly acquire supplies and services needed to mitigate the effects of an attack, with the goal of awarding a contract within 15 days.

NDAA tasks the Defense secretary with assessing how open standards are applicable to DOD's procurement of IT and with briefing the Senate and House Armed Services committees on the subject within a year of the legislation's enactment.

The IT Industry Council's IT Alliance for Public Sector has praised earlier versions of the House and Senate bills as business-friendly. ITAPS has suggested replicating the bills' measures for developing the defense acquisition workforce across government.

The Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof majority while the House did not.

At an Oct. 7 press conference, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Obama was misguided to threaten a policy bill when the president's real objection should be with the defense appropriations bill.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) echoed McCain's argument, saying: "Why not get this done, at least show the world that our political institutions can function for our own national defense?"

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Obama's veto threat on Oct. 7 over what the White House has called the bill's "gimmick" of using $38 billion in overseas contingency operations funding to skirt mandatory spending caps.

Gross tapped for CIO post at FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation appointed Lawrence Gross Jr. to be CIO. He is an IT manager with more than 25 years of combined federal and military service in progressively more responsible technology-related positions.

Most recently, Gross served as CIO at the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. He was also a deputy CIO at the Interior Department and associate CIO at the Treasury Department and has worked in IT areas at the Energy Department, Justice Department and Navy.

White House celebrates the Challenge.gov anniversary

The White House celebrated the fifth anniversary of its innovation-seeking Challenge.gov program by unveiling nine new federal agency challenges and 14 nongovernmental challenges.

The prize-driven initiatives seek to address pressing local, national and global challenges, with a purse of prize money for successful innovators.

In the past five years, agencies have collaborated with more than 200,000 problem-solvers -- including entrepreneurs, citizen scientists and students -- in more than 440 challenges on topics ranging from accelerating the deployment of solar energy to combating breast cancer and increasing resilience after Hurricane Sandy.

The nine new federal challenges include efforts to commercialize NASA technology, help students navigate their education and career options, and protect marine habitats.

The White House also said the General Services Administration and NASA can provide mentoring support for agencies interested in conducting their own challenges. NASA and GSA have trained more than 2,000 agency employees to create and run prize competitions through workshops and online resources.

DHS vet to lead Learning Tree

Former Department of Homeland Security CIO and current FCW columnist Richard Spires has been named CEO of Learning Tree.

Spires joined Resilient Network Systems as CEO in 2013 after leaving DHS and has remained closely tied to federal IT issues. He testified at a congressional hearing on the Office of Personnel Management data breach in June and has recently become involved with the government/industry group ACT-IAC's efforts to develop strategies for implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.

Spires served as DHS CIO from 2009 to 2013, as vice chairman of the CIO Council and co-chair of the Committee for National Security Systems, and as IRS CIO from 2004 to 2008. He has served on Learning Tree's board since 2013. Read more in Washington Technology.

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