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FCW Insider: Feb. 12

According to late-night press reports, lawmakers have struck an "agreement in principle" to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2019. The deal includes $1.375 billion for border barriers, including 55 new miles of wall or fencing, and a reduction in the number of detention beds maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and would avoid a repeat of the partial shutdown that put about 380,000 feds on furlough and 420,000 working without paychecks. There's no word on whether President Donald Trump will sign such bill -- assuming the deal holds and it reaches his desk.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was predicting a deal earlier on Monday. Speaking at the annual legislative conference of the American Federation of Government Employees she said, "Friday is a lifetime away. We're going to get this figured out." Chase Gunter has more on the AFGE conference and the push for a federal pay raise.

The Technology Modernization Fund Board awarded $20.7 million to accelerate the NewPay effort at the General Services Administration – a plan to put federal payroll in the cloud using commercial providers. The award means TMF has almost maxed out its $100 million funding limit for its first year, although a $25 million boost could be coming in the long-delayed appropriations package. Mark Rockwell has the story.

President Trump signed an executive order Feb. 11 directing federal agencies to invest more money and resources into the development of artificial intelligence technologies before other countries develop a clear lead in AI. Derek B. Johnson reports.

A penetration test found some concerning vulnerabilities at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, with one in three employees falling for phishing emails. Derek has more.

Quick Hits

*** A long-awaited rule proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spells out standards for interoperability among health records and looks to reduce "information blocking" by which electronic health records providers put up roadblocks to data sharing. The rule also looks to establish an industry standard application programming interface (API) protocol for building applications to extend health record data to patients.

"For far too long, electronic health information has been stuck in silos and inaccessible for healthcare consumers. Our proposals help break down existing barriers to important data exchange needed to empower patients by giving them access to their health data," Seema Verna, CMS administrator, said in a statement.

*** The Department of Veterans Affairs is extending health record information to Apple iPhone users, via an API that connects patient records on procedures, immunizations, vital signs and more to the iPhone's Health Records app. The agency is looking to extend the service to other mobile device platforms. VA's Lighthouse program is designed to extend the agency's data on patients, facilities, providers and more to be used in secure, customer-facing apps.

*** A new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency probes obstacles and opportunities to U.S. interests in space. Challenges to Security in Space looks at efforts by nation-state rivals to disrupt U.S. satellite communications as well as the possibility of "kinetic energy weapons" -- lasers, high-power microwaves – being deployed via satellite at U.S. targets. China and Russia get detailed treatment as the most dangerous adversaries, but Iran and North Korea also come in for some attention.

"The advantage the United States holds in space -- and its perceived dependence on it -- will drive actors to improve their abilities to access and operate in and through space. These improvements can pose a threat to space-based services across the military, commercial, and civil space sectors," the report states.

Posted on Feb 12, 2019 at 12:49 AM


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