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FCW Insider: April 26

Former Vice President Joe Biden declared his candidacy for president on April 25. Last year, Derek B. Johnson took a look at Biden's views on cyber policy and what the U.S. should do in response to Russian interference in U.S. elections.

The White House gave the nod to a long-expected move to shift background checks to the Department of Defense. Lauren C. Williams has more on what's next for the National Background Investigation Bureau.

The Defense Security Service wants more information on potential supply chain vulnerabilities from vendors – and they're willing to pay for it. Lauren explains.

Government agencies have a history of experimenting to find solutions to low-visibility, technical problems. In his latest blog, Steve Kelman takes a look at ongoing efforts to keep birds and airplanes at a safe distance.

AI and cloud are changing agency missions. Technologies that eliminate tedious tasks give government workers more time to think, but insights require connections with citizens. Mark Rockwell has more.

Quick Hits

*** A new memo to agency heads from acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought tasks agencies with meeting new standards for data integrity and reliability, especially when that data is being used to in evidence of proposed regulations.

The memo also specifies that agencies using software to perform data analysis should make the underlying computer code available to the public, "if consistent with applicable law and policy."

But some are worried that the new policy doesn't represent a pivot toward openness.

In a blog post, the Union of Concerned Scientists criticized a few provisions of the policy, including the reliance on reproducible scientific data – a requirement that could preclude using data from one-off, non-reproducible events that might take a toll on human health or the environment. The post also notes that a provision permitting challenges to data could stretch out already lengthy regulatory review processes.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said the memo "allows a near endless and expensive round of challenges to every detail of the information an agency uses, including on how well the agency complied with this directive itself, until everyone is satisfied – i.e. never."

*** Three House Democratic Committee leaders wrote to the acting Secretary of Homeland Security requesting documents and communications related to the abrupt resignations of top Department of Homeland Security officials last month.

In an Apr. 25 letter, Oversight and Reform Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) write that they are investigating the circumstances behind the reported forced resignations of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and top deputies earlier this month and are "deeply concerned" about the national security fallout.

"We are…concerned that that the President may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration laws and judicial orders," the three wrote.

The lawmakers requested all DHS communications related to the departures of Nielsen, U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ronald Vitello, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna and General Counsel John Mitnick.

They're also asking for all related communications to and from White House advisor Stephen Miller, citing press reports claiming that Miller was behind the purge.

Posted on Apr 26, 2019 at 1:06 AM


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