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FCW Insider: Feb. 26

The U.S. Postal Service is considering autonomous vehicles for mail delivery. The USPS is seeking information about sensor, guidance and operational technologies as well as expertise on testing and integrating the autonomous vehicle tech into its existing fleet. Susan Miller has more.

Federal IT spending and cybersecurity data suggests that high-level agency vacancies are slowing modernization and increasing the risk of breaches of agency networks. Min-Seok Pang, an associate professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business digs into the data and analyses risk factors in this FCW commentary.

A power failure at the main building housing NASA's Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract vehicle has knocked out service – just as a backup power service was being finalized for release. Mark Rockwell has the story.

Quick Hits

*** The Department of Defense spent an estimated $828 million on sustainment of weapons systems software in fiscal year 2018. The numbers aren't entirely reliable, however, asthe Navy does not submit data in accordance with recently updated DOD policy. As a result, according to a Government Accountability Office report, "DOD is impeded in its efforts to plan for a ready and controlled source of technical competence, and to budget resources in peacetime while preserving the surge capabilities necessary to fully support strategic and contingency needs."

DOD's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation has been aware of multiple issues with data on weapons system software sustainment going back several years in areas including data collection from contractors and from DOD software centers. DOD agreed with several recommendations on how the military services can supply better data on software sustainment.

*** Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wants federal agencies with regulatory and standards setting authority to obtain details on efforts to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the health care space. In letters to the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Warner said he wanted to see strategies developed by the federal government for the safeguarding of health care technology systems.

"As we welcome the benefits of health care technology we must also ensure we are effectively protecting patient information and the essential operations of our health care entities," Warner wrote.

The letters follow similar outreach by Warner to private and non-profit health care industry stakeholders last week.

*** Civilian federal agencies will largely see lower budget requests by the Trump administration in the 2020 proposal expected to land in the coming weeks. In a Feb. 25 column, acting budget chief Russ Vought said the coming budget submission will be within the constraints mandated by the Budget Control Act and "will meet the target of a 5 percent reduction to non-defense discretionary spending, by means of one of the largest spending reductions in history."

The budget will also use the Overseas Contingency Operations funding -- an outlay designed to cover unanticipated but immediate military spending – to cover shortfalls in defense funding that come from meeting the statutory budget caps.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that the administration " has already submitted two extreme budget requests filled with destructive cuts that Congress completely rejected. Acting Director Vought's op-ed confirms that the third Trump budget will be more of the same."

Posted on Feb 26, 2019 at 12:41 AM


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