FCW Insider

Blog archive

FCW Insider: August 3

NSA and CISA push guidance for BootHole fix

Federal agencies are moving to put out custom guidance for dealing with a widespread bootloader bug that can be complicated to patch due to software and firmware interdependencies.

Understanding the DOD's ban on some China-made telecom gear

FCW spoke with two attorneys specializing in federal contracting to get some clarity on the fast approaching government ban on contracting with companies that use certain telecom equipment and services.

Solarium commissioners focus on cyber director, better attribution

Negotiations between the House and Senate on a $740 billion defense authorization bill will determine which recommendations from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission make it into law.

Comment: AI's true benefit for government

Productivity projections assume that federal workers and executives are widely empowered to make the most of the new AI tools at their disposal, but at present, this is not the case.

Quick Hits

*** House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is hoping to compromise with the Trump administration about the boosting the Technology Modernization Fund in the coming round of COVID-19 stimulus and relief. Hoyer is looking to combine a House-passed $1 billion infusion of money into the TMF, a centrally administered revolving fund of no-year money that underwrites IT modernization projects, with $2 billion in funding for IRS modernization included in a proposal backed by the Trump administration and Senate Republicans.

Under Hoyer's plan, outlined in a July 31 letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the IRS upgrades would be managed through the TMF, and eventually paid back to the fund under its reimbursement rules, so that the money would be available for subsequent IT modernization projects.

"I hope you will consider this suggestion, which would go a long way toward eliminating barriers to the effective implementation of our COVID-19 relief programs and help modernize government systems more broadly," Hoyer wrote.

Currently, TMF is capitalized at about $150 million through its launch and several rounds of appropriations. The fund's board has made awards to 10 projects across seven agencies. The largest award is so far $20 million for the implementation of a payroll shared service at the General Services Administration. A $2 billion project for IRS would represent a massive shift in scope and scale for TMF.

On Friday, the House passed a minibus of six fiscal year appropriations bills, including the General Government and Financial Services funding bill which this year included a $25 million increase to the TMF account. That measure passed on a 217-197 vote. It was the second such package of appropriations bills to pass the House.

*** The Environmental Protection Agency is updating its acquisition regulation to provide for the acquisition and use of open source and custom-coded software in a rule taking effect Aug. 3. The policy dictates that custom-developed code be made "broadly available for reuse across the federal government" subject to certain exceptions including some pertaining to national security. Custom code in this context refers to software or software components that are produced under federal government contract or otherwise funded by tax dollars. The rule is also designed to prevent contractors from delivering software that contains open source components or modules and characterizing that software as proprietary. Under the new rule, software delivered with "restrictive markings that are not authorized by the contract" are deemed "nonconforming" and EPA can assert right of reuse over that software.

*** Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), formerly the chairman and ranking member of the now-defunct House IT Subcommittee, lent their names to a Bipartisan Policy Center report called Artificial Intelligence and National Security. The report picks up on policy work generated through Hurd and Kelly's partnership on the future of AI in 2018, and recommends the U.S. adopt a set of principles designed to help compete with rivals Russia and China while also maintaining standards of ethics in the deployment of AI capabilities, particularly on the battlefield

"We cannot allow Russia, China or other adversaries to invest in AI as America stands on the sidelines," Hurd said in a statement. "To protect our national security, we must invest in the research and development of AI across our security infrastructure."

Posted by FCW Staff on Aug 03, 2020 at 2:32 AM


Featured

  • Defense
    concept image of radio communication (DARPA)

    What to look for in DOD's coming spectrum strategy

    Interoperability, integration and JADC2 are likely to figure into an updated electromagnetic spectrum strategy expected soon from the Department of Defense.

  • FCW Perspectives
    data funnel (anttoniart/Shutterstock.com)

    Real-world data management

    The pandemic has put new demands on data teams, but old obstacles are still hindering agency efforts.

Stay Connected