What’s New This Week:
Things appear to be back to normal (for now) since the government has reopened after the month-long partial shutdown. But many federal agencies and their employees are still recovering–and may be for a while.
Industry observer Michael Fischetti notes the shutdown has caused various contractual delays—including new awards, modifications, solicitations, requests for information, and of course, funding. The delivery of products and services also has been affected. “Industry firms and their staff lost a month of income, spent inordinate energy managing cash flow and contingency plans,” Fischetti wrote in the Federal Times.
Cybersecurity was also jeopardized. Moira Bergin, director for the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, listed a number of Homeland Security initiatives that came to a standstill during the shutdown. They include pipeline security, election security, and activities related to the new National Risk Management Center.
At the Jan. 29 State of the Net conference in Washington D.C., Bergin said the shutdown couldn’t have come at a worse time, since Congress just recently passed legislation to create the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
The shutdown forced vital agencies like the National Science Foundation to temporarily close their doors. As a result, the NSF canceled more than 80 review panels that cover everything from molecular biology to cyber infrastructure. And that’s just one of many consequences outlined in a Bloomberg report by Christopher Flavelle and Jennifer Dlouhy.
That said, one conflicting report claims the shutdown actually boosted cybersecurity. New research by Security Scorecard found there was an increase in both endpoint security and patching during that five-week period. Since many computers were turned off and .gov traffic was down, the federal government became an undesirable target for cyberattacks, according to Security Scorecard.
Even before the shutdown, public opinion of government services had dropped 1.1 percent in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The governmentwide average was 68.9 on a 0-to-100-point scale.
After two consecutive years of improvement, government agencies declined in four major areas: process, information, customer service, and website. In fact, some of the major agencies had the lowest scores of more than 380 organizations. ASCI officials said the prolonged shutdown is likely to contribute to growing citizen dissatisfaction with government services.
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“Now [agencies] will be extra stressed to get back the time that was lost, compress previously identified schedules and clean up whatever messes occurred during the shutdown.”
—Elizabeth Klein, former Interior Department official
Read more at Bloomberg.com.
In the Cloud
Air Force Migrates Email Accounts to Office 365 Cloud
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DISA Leads Reforms Mandated by Defense Secretary
The Defense Information Systems Agency is taking center stage for all department-wide cloud initiatives. One of those key initiatives is MilCloud 2.0, a new on-premises commercial cloud service that aims to reduce the Defense Department’s data center footprint. Read more.
Intel Leaders Voice Concerns About ‘Disruptive’ Tech
While emerging technologies are expected to benefit the government in many ways, “adversaries are investing and are likely to make use of these things, too,” said top U.S. intelligence officials during a recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing. Read more.
DARPA Turns to Robots for Underground Navigation
The military sees tunnel detection and mapping as an important capability for future operations. So, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is on a mission to develop technology that can locate and map subterranean passages and infrastructure. Read more.
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Eye on Security
DOD Addresses Health Records System Security Flaws
The Defense Department has a new working group in charge of fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities discovered last year by a hacker team in its Military Healthcare System Genesis. The DOD is spending $5.4 billion to update the electronic health records system. Read more.
Pentagon Reexamines Cybersecurity of Smaller Suppliers
The Pentagon wants to assist its lower-tier suppliers with improving security of their IT systems, which may entail a new regime of spot checks to ensure those suppliers are meeting the necessary regulations. The suggestions came from a Pentagon task force. Read more.
Strategy & Leadership
New GAO Office Tackles Science and Technology Issues
The Government Accountability Office is opening its first new office in 20 years to help lawmakers become more knowledgeable about key issues. The office of Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics combines existing in-house technologists and experts. Read more.
Survey: How Federal IT Leaders Can Accelerate Change
The government’s tech transformation is not as “forward-moving as perhaps everyone would want it to be,” according to Accenture Federal Services. Only half of executives surveyed by Accenture described changes in their IT strategy as significant or transformative. Read more.