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FCW Insider: Oct. 31

A few big agencies have restricted telework in recent months, and those new policies appear to be showing up in response data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Chase Gunter has the story.

The Department of Homeland Security announced the formation of a new public-private task force focused on ways industry can help mitigate threats to the IT and communications supply chain. DHS has been signaling a big effort on this front for months and, as Derek B. Johnson explains , it comes as concerns are rising about supply chain security.

Sue Gordon , the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, said the current backlog of about 600,000 security clearance investigations could be cut in half in spring of 2019 – that's down from a record high of more than 725,000 earlier this year. Get more from Chase.

DHS will likely look to the $50 billion governmentwide telecommunications acquisition vehicle run by the General Services Administration to replace its expiring telecommunications contract . Industry insiders say to look for an $800 million solicitation in the second quarter of 2020. Mark Rockwell reports.

With a week to go before the midterm elections, DHS expects to be able to detect any nefarious activity targeting voting infrastructure, but the general public still has serious concerns about the safety of election tech. Matt Leonard has more.

Quick Hits

*** The Department of Energy has plans for a new supercomputer. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has entered into a contract with Cray valued at $146 million to build and maintain a supercomputer being called "Perlmutter" that will be operational by 2020, DOE announced Tuesday.

This new machine is expected to triple the computational power that is available at Berkeley's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. DOE is calling this a "pre-exascale machine" that will help with the analysis of large scientific datasets and is optimized to transfer data at a rate of 4 terabytes per second.

*** The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is looking for insight into how it can better analyze and visualize safety-related data. DOT currently stores that data in a variety of datasets scattered across on-premises data centers and multiple commercial clouds. The request for information states that the agency would like to consolidate that data, as well as datasets from other federal agencies and private-sector companies like Waze.

DOT wants to be accelerate and formalize the processes for bringing in new data, and to take better advantage of emerging data science and visualization technologies. The department is hosting a webinar on Nov. 15 to answer questions related to the RFI. Responses are due Dec. 7.

*** Two of the three major Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey metrics saw a one-point bump over last year's results

The employee engagement score improved to 68 percent, reaching the highest level since 2011. The largest deltas in agencies with at least 100 employees were actually declines, however: the Department of Agriculture fell three points to a 65 percent, while the Department of Education dropped from 67 to 63 percent.

The New IQ score, a measure of employee inclusion, improved a point to 61 percent. The score declined in the small- and medium-sized agency categories, but increased in agencies with more than 75,000 employees.

The Global Satisfaction index, meanwhile, was unchanged at 64 percent governmentwide.

*** Customs and Border Protection has been exploring blockchain's potential to streamline and secure its trade-data workflows for more than a year. Now, GCN's Sara Friedman reports, the agency is adding augmented reality to its toolkit.

Posted on Oct 31, 2018 at 1:00 AM


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