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FCW Insider: Jan. 16

A federal judge denied injunctions and temporary restraining orders in three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the practice of requiring some feds to work without pay during a shutdown. The lawsuits will proceed in court, with the next hearing set for Jan. 31. Chase Gunter has the story from the courthouse.

With tax filing season colliding with the shutdown, the IRS is bringing back tens of thousands of employees to process returns -- and most IT staffers were already excepted and on the job. Derek B. Johnson reports.

Once again the House of Representatives passed legislation to strengthen the federal CIO post, codify the federal CISO job and enshrine aspects of the IT Dashboard into law. Mark Rockwell takes a look.

A federal judge blocked the controversial citizenship question from the 2020 census. The administration can appeal the ruling, and an already-pressed testing process for Census Bureau systems must adjust yet again. What does it mean for a population count facing a tight schedule? Chase has more.

Warning that facial recognition systems "exacerbate historical and existing bias" that hurts disadvantaged communities, a coalition of 85 civil rights groups asks Amazon, Google and Microsoft to stop selling the tech to governments worldwide. Adam Mazmanian explains.

Quick Hits

*** President Donald Trump is expected to sign the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act into law today. According to the White House schedule, an Oval Office signing ceremony for the bill -- which guarantees back pay for federal employees who are furloughed during the partial government shutdown -- will be held at 2:15 p.m. ET.

*** The House Committee on Homeland Security is largely focused on immigration and shutdown politics at the moment, but it's prepping for a cybersecurity-related blitz.

A committee aide told FCW that in the coming months, the newly empowered Democratic majority wants to focus its oversight and legislative powers on a number of cyber-related priorities, such as critical infrastructure sectors, supply chain risks, election security, cyber workforce issues and how the shutdown is impacting cybersecurity policy at the Department of Homeland Security. Deeper dives on DHS programs like Einstein and Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation are also on the table.

Committee leaders are reexamining the structure and makeup of its subcommittee, but the aide said that any changes on this front are likely to be minor in nature. No changes are expected for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection subcommittee.

*** Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) will head the influential Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel leads oversight of the wireless and wireline telecommunications industry as well as of the Federal Communications Commission. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) was tapped to head the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Rep. Jan Schakowky (D-Ill.) will head the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

*** Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) told FCW he plans to reintroduce the FORWARD Act to authorize the National Institutes of Health to conduct a blockchain pilot related to eradicating valley fever. The pilot would allow three hospitals to work with the NIH to get more access to clinical data for research faster while preserving patient privacy.

"The back half of the valley fever bill has a wonderful use of encrypted distributed ledger and being able to grab data off hospital servers in a safe fashion to dramatically change the time frame on drug trials," Schweikert said after a talk at the Jan. 15 Blockchainge conference. "There are examples like that could be amazing disruptive and beneficial to the country and society."

Schweikert also spoke about his 2019 plans for the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, which he co-chairs. The caucus plans to convene experts from around the U.S. to show how blockchain technology will work in the real world. "We want to do less theoretical work and more case studies of this [technology] works," he said.

Posted on Jan 16, 2019 at 12:40 AM


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