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FCW Insider: May 21

VA benefits backlog spikes amid COVID pandemic

The backlog of initial claims for benefits is rising in recent weeks, after holding steady amid the 100% telework posture of the Veterans Benefits Administration. Lia Russell looks at the backlog and the potential coming surge of new claims.

Google wins DOD cloud pilot contract

The Defense Innovation Unit, awarded Google Cloud a contract for a multi-cloud security gateway to manage and monitor applications and mitigate cyber threats. The award dates back to a DIU ask from last November that looked to retool the way DOD does cloud security on a major scale. Lauren C. Williams has more.

Device lock boxes may be a thing of the past for Pentagon workers, DISA says

Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist for DISA’s emerging technology directorate, said the agency was working with the Pentagon to allow approved devices using a special case to block a phone’s microphone, camera. Lauren explains.

Quick Hits

*** The American Civil Liberties Union cried foul over a new feature rolled out by Twitter that allows users to preselect who can respond to their tweets by tagging them in, saying its use by elected officials could violate the First Amendment.

"As a general matter, Twitter's investment in user controls is a good thing. But public officials would be violating the First Amendment if they were to use this tool to block speakers on any accounts they've opened up for public conversation in their roles as government actors," said Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project in a statement. "Nor should public officials use this tool to decide who can, or can't, reply to accounts they have opened up for requests for government assistance, which may be on the rise due to COVID-19."

*** A Government Accountability Office report on Defense Department acquisition found that the use of cost-type contracts and fixed-price contracts doesn't predict whether programs land on time or on schedule. The report did conclude that certain acquisition design practices were predictive of successful outcomes.

Posted by FCW Staff on May 21, 2020 at 2:36 AM


  • Defense
    Essye Miller, Director at Defense Information Management, speaks during the Breaking the Gender Barrier panel at the Air Space, Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

    Essye Miller: The exit interview

    Essye Miller, DOD's outgoing principal deputy CIO, talks about COVID, the state of the tech workforce and the hard conversations DOD has to have to prepare personnel for the future.

  • innovation (Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com)

    VA embraces procurement challenges at scale

    Steve Kelman applauds the Department of Veterans Affairs' ambitious attempt to move beyond one-off prize-based contests to combat veteran suicides more effectively.

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