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FCW Insider: Oct. 4

It's taken more than two years, but the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate is finally poised to become a full-fledged agency. The Senate on Oct. 3 approved legislation to transform NPPD into the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.  Derek Johnson explains the long-sought shift. 

The 2020 census is fast approaching, and Steven Dillingham -- the president's nominee to lead the Census Bureau -- warned lawmakers on Oct. 3 that IT acquisition and system testing remain real concerns. Dillingham steered clear of the disputed citizenship question, which could force last-minute changes to those systems.  Chase Gunter has the details

The midterm elections, meanwhile, are approaching even faster, and sponsors of the Secure Election Act have given up hope that their bill could move before Election Day.  However, Derek reports that consideration during a lame duck session is still a possibility.

Kessel Run could be the new standard for Air Force IT acquisitions.  Air Force CTO Frank Konieczny said on Oct. 3 that the goal of such agile development efforts is to get an authority to operate "within three or four weeks, not six years."  It's unclear what that translates to in parsecs, but Lauren C. Williams reports that supporters like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) want to know what's needed to "normalize and scale these types [of] programs."

The Navy, meanwhile, continues to reinvent its Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems. The PEO EIS has added four new components in recent months, and Principal Deputy PEO Capt. Donald Harder says more moves are coming.  Lauren checks in on the change.

Quick Hits

*** As FCW reported last week, cybersecurity for the nation's natural gas and oil pipelines may need to be approached differently. Now the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security have announced a new pipeline security initiative that will involve both agencies. Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske, National Protection and Programs Directorate Under Secretary Christopher Krebs and Deputy Energy Secretary Karen Evans met on Oct. 3 with representatives from the Oil and Natural Gas Sector Coordinating Council to discuss better industry-government collaboration. According to Evans, the initiative "will leverage the unique expertise of DOE, DHS, TSA, and other federal agencies … to address the threats to our nation's pipelines."

*** Cerner, the company leading the shift at the Department of Veterans Affairs to switch to a commercial electronic health record, named the roster of subcontractors who will be helping on the $10 billion contract. Leidos, the integrator and prime contractor on the Department of Defense effort to implement the Cerner solution at DOD, is one of seven "core" partners. That list also includes Accenture, Henry Schein, ProSource 360, MicroHealth, Guidehouse and Ablevets. Additionally, Cerner named 17 "premiere" partners to work on the VA's 10-year switch from its homegrown Vista health record.

*** The Senate passed the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration by a 93 to 6 margin after the House overwhelmingly cleared its reauthorization in April, and the bill will now head to the president’s desk. After early efforts in the Trump administration to privatize air traffic control, the 1,200-page bill reauthorizes the FAA for the longest stretch since 1982, and continues the NextGen air traffic control modernization project. The bill does, however, require the FAA administrator to report on the progress of NextGen, including time and money spent to date, benefits reported by those using the system, and a completion date. On the cyber front, the bill directs the administrator to partner with the National Academy of Sciences to review the agency’s cyber workforce, complete with recommendations about size, quality and workforce diversity. Additionally, it keeps the House bill’s language about developing “an integrated Cyber Testbed" for the research, development and validation of air traffic control modernization programs.

*** The DOD is pulling back a rule change that would have reduced the upfront payments to major contractors from the customary 80 percent of the contract cost to 50 percent. The rule change, proposed in August, was opposed by trade groups representing contractors. In an Oct. 1 statement, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Pentagon would try again for a rule change, but with more input from stakeholders.

*** The buzzing of a presidential alert on mobile phones as part of an Oct. 3 emergency systems test has some lessons for the larger federal IT community, according to CIO Suzette Kent. The test of the Wireless Emergency Alert conducted by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "is a testament to how digital and mobile are connectivity points between citizens and government,” she said at an Oct. 3 technology conference in Washington, D.C. "It shows what types of things we have to do in the way that we connect to people."

Posted on Oct 04, 2018 at 4:43 AM


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