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FCW Insider: April 11

The competition to be the Pentagon's top cloud supplier will come down to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. The Department of Defense announced that the two cloud providers had met the gate criteria for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program and that an internal probe found that the solicitation was not tainted by conflict of interest. The controversial $10 billion single-award JEDI cloud buy is still the topic of an ongoing lawsuit by Oracle. Lauren C. Williams has more.

As the Department of Homeland Security scrambles following the abrupt departures of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and number of top officials, the newly formed Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency could get caught up in the chaos. Chase Gunter reports on the view from CISA.

The National Guard wants to increase cybersecurity capacity by attracting exiting service members and full-time private-sector professionals to act as weekend cyber warriors. Lauren explains.

The advocacy group Public Citizen claims that the Education Department networks are blocking its website and they're suing to get the agency to end their blacklist. Mark Rockwell has the story.

Quick Hits

*** The Office of Personnel Management is looking for ways to integrate artificial intelligence tools to help its current workforce, including non-techies. In an April 9 contracting notice, OPM announced it is seeking ideas from industry on natural language processing tools that can summarize texts, perform sentiment analysis, parse statutes and regulations. OPM is also looking to learn more "about chatbots and transactional bots that are easy to implement and customize." Responses are due April 19.

*** As the Trump administration looks to expand shared services, the Government Accountability Office identified some obstacles to their wider adoption.

GAO found that the effort by Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration to push human resources and financial management shared services is lacking, particularly relating to NewPay, the 10-year, $2.5 billion software-as-a-service program intended to supply the entire government with commercial, cloud-based payroll, scheduling and leave management solutions.

Specifically, GAO points out that the agencies haven't announced which will run point on managing the service, and which agencies will serve on the NewPay Review Board overseeing the implementation, or what its authority will be. The agencies have "also not yet documented which agency will be responsible for interpreting payroll rules and regulations," a persistent issue for federal shared service providers, GAO states.

More generally, GAO cites two challenges to the broad adoption of HR and financial management shared services. The first set of challenges has to do with "persistent governance challenges" -- such as difficulties in cross-agency collaboration, as well as limited oversight and technical support for shared services migrations. The other, per GAO, are financially driven, such as "difficulty obtaining funding to invest in shared services, demand uncertainty among providers, and limited choices for customers."

*** The Federal Trade Commission would get the authority to require companies to assess the use of automated, algorithmically-based decision systems to identify issues with implicit bias, discrimination and privacy under a new bill sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)

The Algorithmic Accountability Act is designed to provide a means for monitoring the increasing use of decision engines in software that powers online advertising, real estate sites, job recruiting and other areas potentially ripe for bias and discrimination. Companies would be required to fix issues identified during the mandated impact assessments.

"Algorithms shouldn't have an exemption from our anti-discrimination laws. Our bill recognizes that algorithms have authors, and without diligent oversight, they can reflect the biases of those behind the keyboard," Clarke said in a statement.

Posted on Apr 11, 2019 at 1:06 AM


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