News and notes from around the federal IT community.
Senate unanimously approves cybersecurity workforce measure
On Sept. 18, the Senate unanimously approved a measure designed to boost the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity workforce. Part of a broader bill on border security, the provision would give DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson greater authority for hiring and paying cybersecurity professionals.
"Unfortunately, the demand for cybersecurity experts in the government greatly outpaces the supply, and many agencies have had difficulty attracting the best and brightest and retaining those already in service," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a key proponent of the bill.
KeyPoint seeks to hire investigators as it takes on more security clearance work
U.S. Investigations Services, the private equity-owned firm that handled the bulk of security clearance investigations for the Office of Personnel Management, is on the outs with the government. The firm's contract expires on Sept. 30, and it will not be renewed, said Lisa Loss, assistant director of external affairs at OPM's Federal Investigative Services.
As a result, KeyPoint Government Solutions is now the top contractor in the clearance investigations field. On Sept. 19, the firm announced a nationwide recruitment plan to hire investigators to meet the anticipated demand. One likely source of talent is USIS itself because many seasoned investigators are going to find themselves short of assignments in the near future.
Brennan stands by story on Senate intel computers
CIA Director John Brennan rejected the suggestion that he has changed his tune on whether agency employees meddled with a Senate investigation into the CIA's alleged use of torture after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
At a public conference in Washington on Sept. 18 where he was joined by other intelligence agency leaders, Brennan grew visibly irritated with journalist Kimberly Dozier's suggestion that he had reversed course by apologizing to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for his agency's infiltration of computers used by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
"With all due respect, Kim, this is part of the [media's] mischaracterizations" of intelligence agencies, he said.
He went on to recount how NBC's Andrea Mitchell had asked him in March if CIA officers had hacked "into the Senate computers to thwart the investigation on detention interrogation." Brennan refuted that allegation again in his latest remarks but in the same breath cited a CIA inspector general investigation that found agency employees had "improperly accessed" Senate computers.
"Thwart the investigation, hacking in? No, we did not," Brennan said. "And I said that that's beyond the scope of reason."
Brennan and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers have made multiple public appearances in recent months to counter what they say are unfair characterizations of their agencies by the news media.
Upstate New York site approved for drone testing
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted a certificate of authorization for a parafoil unmanned aerial system to fly at a test site in upstate New York.
Logos Technologies said it has received FAA authorization to begin flight-testing the Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) at the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance's FAA test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y.
The certificate of authorization lays the groundwork for TEMP to become the first UAS to be exclusively tested at Griffiss. Testing is expected to begin next month.
The testing facility is on the site of the former Griffiss Air Force Base, which also hosts the Air Force Research Laboratory's Information Directorate.
Developed in partnership with Atair Aerospace, TEMP is a lightweight parafoil aircraft that is capable of powered and autonomous flight. A parafoil is a kind of parachute that provides lift. TEMP is designed for a range of missions, including precision cargo delivery to remote and inaccessible areas to assist with emergency response and other situations.
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