FCW Insider

Blog archive

Quick Hits

*** The Pentagon's controversial $10 billion cloud acquisition procurement hit a bump last week, when Oracle sued over the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure requirements in the Court of Federal Claims. Oracle's lawsuit came after the company lost a pre-award protest at the Government Accountability Office. The lawsuit was filed under seal, but JEDI watchers will be paying attention to a status conference scheduled for Dec. 13 to see if IBM -- which is also protesting the JEDI requirements at GAO -- joins the lawsuit.

Whether or not IBM joins the lawsuit, it appears likely that GAO will dismiss that company's protest as well as the case goes forward, according to a source at GAO. The court approved GAO's request to view Oracle's complaint and if – as is widely expected – the lawsuit touches on issues in the IBM protest, it would be GAO's policy to defer to the court. The source said a decision on dismissing the IBM protest should come this week.

*** The Department of Health and Human Services' blockchain-powered acquisition system received its Authority to Operate on Dec. 10. HHS Accelerate, which used distributed-ledger technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver real-time information on pricing and terms and conditions from across HHS, can now go into production with live data.

The ATO had been expected, but the Accelerate team was still "pumped" to be able to officially move forward, Jose Arrieta, associate deputy assistant secretary for the HHS Division of Acquisition, told FCW. "This is the first blockchain-powered ATO [in the federal government] and the first for public procurement in the world."

*** A new report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General found the Customs and Border Protection agency often did not follow department practice when searching individual’s electronic devices at port of entries.

CBP officers are only allowed to access information on devices themselves, not data the device may be connecting to in the cloud. This requires the officers to disconnect devices from the network prior to a search -- a step that was often skipped as a result of inconsistent guidance on the process, the IG found.

CBP has taken steps to address this issue and has issued new guidance saying that officers should ask travelers to disconnect their devices prior to a search, according to the report.

Once this data is accessed from a traveler it continued to be managed poorly. In some cases information was stored on thumb drives that should have been deleted, the report said.

The CBP also allowed a software license to lapse -- between February 2017 and September 2017 -- which prevented the agency from doing advanced searched on hard drives and other devices.

The IG issued five recommendations that say performance measures should be developed for this program, searches should be properly documented by officers and supervisors should oversee the process of disconnecting devices from networks prior to a search. CBP agreed with the recommendations.

The IG said the CBP processed 787 million travelers between 2016 and 2017 who were coming into the country and it searched 47,400 devices in that period.

The CBP recently implemented a higher standard for searching a travelers phone, requiring reasonable suspicion before doing it. It also allowed officers to try and break encryption if travelers refused to open their device.

*** Former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Jack Gansler has died at the age of 84. Washington Technology has more on Gansler, who was an early champion of best-value procurement and an empowered acquisition workforce.

*** The Census Bureau still has some work to do in preparing its enumerators to count everyone in the country, and to avoid swelling costs, according to GAO.

In a new report, GAO pointed out the bureau had not finalized its data collection procedures for the non-response follow-up operation, when enumerators follow up with households that did not respond on their own, in time to evaluate their effectiveness.

It also noted enumerators lacked skills and training to handle in-field challenges that arose, and lacked standardized guidance for enumerators.

GAO made four recommendations to better prepare in-field operations. The Commerce Department agreed with the findings and recommendations, and said it would develop an action plan to address them.

As the bureau completes its dress rehearsal test of operations and tech, it’s about to enter the ramp-up phase of the decade, the two-year period in which it will spend the bulk of its decennial appropriations. Both the cost and the in-person enumeration are complicated by the challenges presented by the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 forms.

Posted on Dec 11, 2018 at 12:32 AM


Featured

  • Workforce
    White House rainbow light shutterstock ID : 1130423963 By zhephotography

    White House rolls out DEIA strategy

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/Shutterstock.com)

    Why DOD is so bad at buying software

    The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?

Stay Connected