News in Brief

FITARA architect wants to run the House, new tech at FCC and more

Rep. Darrell Issa

FITARA architect Rep. Darrell Issa said he might be interested in running for Speaker of the House.

Reps: Take clearances away from OPM already

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.) advocated stripping the Office of Personnel Management of its responsibilities for security clearance data.

"We strongly believe that security clearance data -- which has been described as 'crown jewels' of our national intelligence -- should not be protected by OPM, which is neither an intelligence agency nor a defense organization," the lawmakers wrote in an Oct. 7 letter to David Mader, acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and chair of the President's Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council.

Lieu and Russell asked that the council find a new home for security clearance data.

The lawmakers have been working on legislation to take the clearance system away from OPM after a massive breach exposed tens of millions of highly sensitive security clearance records.

Will a Capitol Hill IT leader make a bid for speaker?

The primary architect of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act apparently not only wants better oversight of federal IT, he's also thinking about broadening his management portfolio to include conservative House lawmakers.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), former chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and FITARA's primary author, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Oct. 9 that he might be interested in running for Speaker of the House in the wake of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's sudden and unexpected withdrawal from consideration for the post.

Current Speaker John Boehner threw the House leadership into turmoil when he announced in late September that he was stepping down as soon as a replacement could be found.

After a closed-door meeting on Oct. 8, McCarthy said he was no longer interested in the position. The decision left House conservatives scrambling to find a replacement.

"The fact is, yes, I think that I could potentially be a candidate," Issa told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough in a live on-air interview on Oct. 9. "At the same time, I agree with the vast majority of members, I think."

Issa took the opportunity to trash talk his successor on the oversight committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who has declared his candidacy for the top job in the House.

"The fact is he's a good guy, but whatever he was as a freshman, when he was a fighter on our committee, when he was trying to hold government accountable, he took a break from that," Issa said. "And I think that's going to hurt him. Not whether I get into the race or not. It's already hurt him. He didn't have 30 votes going into the race. I don't think he's going to get the 240."

Watchdog wants IRS to limit use of Social Security numbers

The IRS can't seem to break the bad habit of widespread use of Social Security numbers on forms and notices, according to a Treasury Department watchdog.

In a report released publicly on Oct. 7, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the IRS has made limited progress on reducing unnecessary use of the numbers on forms, letters and notices.

The Office of Management and Budget had ordered the elimination of unnecessary use of the numbers by 2009. However, TIGTA said the IRS mailed more than 100 million notices and 37 million letters to taxpayers for various reasons in fiscal 2014, and as of January 2015, the agency had removed Social Security numbers from 2 percent of the 2,749 types of letters and 48 percent of the 195 types of notices it issues.

"The fact that the IRS does not have processes and procedures to accurately identify all correspondence that contains Social Security Numbers remains a concern," said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

The IRS suspended work on removing the numbers from correspondence in 2011, and funding for computer system upgrades that could process bar-coded notices that would replace the numbers will not be available in fiscal 2016, according to TIGTA.

FCC takes wraps off redesigned website

The Federal Communications Commission unveiled the beta version of its modernized FCC.gov website as part of an ongoing overhaul of the agency's IT systems.

In an Oct. 9 blog post, FCC CIO David Bray said officials are seeking user input to further hone the site, which is Drupal-based and can alter how it is displayed based on whether a user is accessing the site via a PC, mobile phone or tablet.

The site is connected via application programming interfaces to some of the agency's many document databases, including two of the most popular: the Electronic Document Management System and the Electronic Comment Filing System. The APIs allow real-time updates to display under "Headlines" and "Most Active Proceedings."

Bray said FCC applications will be increasingly cloud-based. He added that all the content that resides on the current FCC.gov has been migrated to the new site and is being integrated into the new information architecture, which will allow for expansion and improved access to and interaction with all the information on FCC.gov.

Army CIO seeks cyber celebs

Government and industry alike are spending billions on cybersecurity, but Army CIO Gary Wang thinks something else is needed:  a little celebrity sizzle.

Speaking at an Oct. 9 AFCEA NOVA luncheon, Wang covered the military's now-familiar efforts to both boost its defenses and improve cyber hygiene.  But he also emphasized the need to change the culture surrounding cybersecurity. This shift needs to start at home, Wang said, and creep into everyday conversations. He pointed to a public service announcement from the Disney Channel's Phineas and Ferb as one example of positive outreach, but stressed that there needs to be more.

"What we don’t have is larger celebrity figures out there. Michael Jordan isn’t in a commercial talking about the importance of cybersecurity. We have to get to that level where figures are out there on the news talking about this," he said.

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