NASA's daily dose of Earth, sorta-secret GAO reports and an IG's public plea

NASA Daily Earth Image

An image from NASA's new Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera.

NASA's new EPIC Earth pics

NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force are partnering to publish daily images of the sunlight side of Earth, using a camera a million miles away.

The images are now being published on http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

Taking by the Deep Space Climate Observatory's (DSCOVR) Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), each image is created from a combination of photos taken 12 to 36 hours prior, with the ultimate quality of a 12-megapixel camera photo. The Earth’s rotation can be displayed over the course of each daily sequence of uploads, and the site’s archive will be searchable by date and continent, NASA said in an announcement.

The GAO reports you don't see

The Government Accountability Office keeps a good number of its reports under wraps, and a new list shows that many of them focus on IT and cyber concerns.

The list states that, due to classified or controlled unclassified information being involved, more than 40 reports from fiscal year 2015 were not published on GAO's website.   Nearly half had to do with information security or cybersecurity in some fashion, with specific topics including:

  • A three-report series on "state-based marketplace security and privacy"
  • The Defense Department's management and control of cyberspace operations
  • Internal Revenue Service controls over financial and taxpayer data
  • Weaknesses in the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control systems
  • The need for better metrics concerning personnel security clearances
  • Insider threats and DOD classified information systems
  • Information security program and/or privacy concerns at the Federal Reserve, Federal Trade Commission, National Endowment for the Humanities, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and other agencies.

According to GAO, the list "is intended to keep Congress, federal agencies, and the public informed of the existence of these products."  Instructions on how to request restricted products are also provided.

CIGIE leader wants legislation to empower government watchdogs

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is looking to Congress to restore IG independence. In an Oct. 18 opinion article for the Washington Post, Horowitz, who is also chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, said that pending legislation in the House and the Senate "would restore IG independence and empower IGs to conduct the kind of rigorous, independent and thorough oversight that taxpayers expect."

He urged Congress to move quickly on the bills, which stipulate that the language giving IGs access to "all records" as provided for in the original 1978 law authorizing IGs. Horowitz and others in the IG community are concerned about administration interpretations that are keeping some agency information from internal watchdogs.

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