News in Brief

VA's Hickey resigns, OMB seeks cyber specialist and more

Alison Hickey.

Allison Hickey, who bore the brunt of congressional criticism for VA's disability claims backlog, has resigned as undersecretary for benefits.

VA's Allison Hickey resigns

Allison Hickey has resigned as the Department of Veterans Affairs' undersecretary for benefits. She was the face of the effort to eliminate the backlog in veterans' disability claims and spearheaded development of the Veterans Benefits Management System, a tool that gives VA claims processors access to digitized medical records to cut down on waiting time.

Hickey bore the brunt of criticism from Capitol Hill for the volume of the backlog. As far back as March 2013, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, called for Hickey's resignation because of the backlog.

In an Oct. 16 statement, he said, "Right now, [the Veterans Benefits Administration] needs a leader who will put veterans -- not VA bureaucrats -- first while working to end the backlog without sacrificing quality, accuracy or service to veterans. Unfortunately, Hickey was not that type of leader."

OMB seeks IT specialist to work on cybersecurity programs

The Office of Management and Budget wants to hire an information security specialist.

According to an OMB job notice, the IT specialist will serve a term of two to four years and will report to the E-Gov Cyber and National Security Unit chief in OMB's Office of E-Government and IT.

The ideal candidate will be able to offer cybersecurity-related policy recommendations, subject-matter expertise for OMB and other agencies, and support and implementation of the IT Oversight and Reform initiative.

Whoever gets the job will assess policies, procedures, programs and challenges for the federal cybersecurity workforce based on, among others, Cross-Agency Priority goals and Federal Information Security Management Act metrics. He or she will also monitor and advise five agencies devoted to the cybersecurity of federal networks: the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, General Services Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The position will be filled under the Office of Personnel Management's delegated direct-hire authority. In addition to IT-related experience, applicants must have a minimum of one year of specialized experience at the GS-11 level.

The application period is open through Oct. 28 or by the date OMB receives 300 applications.

Federal cyber spending quintupled over 3 years, firm says

Federal spending on cybersecurity quintupled from fiscal 2011 to 2014, from $6 billion to $31 billion, according to analytics firm Govini.

Govini divided cybersecurity spending into 11 categories, including "offensive cyber" and secure systems engineering. The firm found that offensive cyber spending at federal agencies surged from $6 billion in fiscal 2013 to $15 billion in fiscal 2014.

"The surprising thing for us was there was no common language or definition of cybersecurity across the federal contractor base," Govini CEO Eric Gillespie said in a statement. "Our customers knew there was significant capital being allocated to cyber, but they didn't know how much or in what segments."

Senate passes bill limiting Librarian of Congress to 10-year term

As President Barack Obama continues to search for a new Librarian of Congress, a bill limiting the term to 10 years moved through the Senate on Oct. 7.

The Librarian of Congress Succession Modernization Act of 2015 allows the person in the position to be reappointed every 10 years if the president and Senate choose to do so.

The 13th Librarian of Congress, James Hadley Billington, retired Sept. 30 after decades at the helm. Ronald Reagan appointed Billington in 1987.

This year has seen some changes at the venerable institution. In September, the library appointed its first full-time CIO in three years. Bernard Barton Jr., who served as CIO and deputy administrator at the Defense Technical Information Center, joined just days after the Library of Congress suffered a weeklong outage of some key IT systems. The online copyright registration system experienced an outage from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6 due to an equipment failure after electrical maintenance.

In March, a Government Accountability Office report found that the library lacked a strategic plan for deploying its $119 million budget.

Barton told FCW shortly after becoming CIO that the library is taking steps to address infrastructure issues, including aging equipment and problems related to the local power supply.

Senators press for ICANN reforms

Ahead of the weekend meetings in Dublin of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the group that oversees Internet governance, several U.S. senators warned that key accountability reforms under consideration are obligatory for the group to be effective.

In an Oct. 15 letter to ICANN Chairman Steve Crocker, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the Internet subcommittee, warned ICANN that a "bottom-up, multi-stakeholder approach" is necessary in making those reforms.

"Significant accountability reforms that empower the community and are developed by the community are necessary for congressional support of any such transition," they said.

The transition in question is the movement of a key piece of Internet architecture from U.S. control to a new global organization.

Thune and Schatz said they expect ICANN to stand by commitments made by CEO Fadi Chehade to provide the U.S. government with a transition proposal that reduces the board's power if ICANN's community and stakeholders present it with such a plan.

They also reminded the group that the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration does not have a deadline to migrate the contract with ICANN for Internet Assigned Numbers Authority duties that manage the Internet's overarching domain-naming system.

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