What’s New This Week:
Risky (Cyber) Business
As the partial government shutdown wrapped up its fourth week, it became the longest in U.S. history. Ironically, the shutdown is likely to cost more than President Donald Trump’s border wall. Cybersecurity experts are now warning that the nation is at risk of a major cyberattack, with thousands of workers not present to monitor defense systems or handle upgrades and repairs. Other parts of the government are also feeling the effects, but more on that later.
Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated. That’s why the Army is looking for equally sophisticated technologies—like artificial intelligence and machine learning—to defend its networks against such attacks. “The Army wants to pit AI against AI in cyberspace,” explains BGOV’s Chris Cornillie in this week’s exclusive story, which explores how the Army envisions acquiring tech that can autonomously detect and address software vulnerabilities and network misconfigurations.
In fact, AI will be a big part of the Army’s future acquisitions, especially in air missile defense and other weapons systems. The Army’s new AI Task Force has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University on research and development projects focused on AI and robotics. While there is some controversy surrounding the use of AI in weapons systems, Army acquisition head Bruce Jette said the technology is necessary.
The Army is one of many federal agencies that see a promise in AI and its potential uses. However, the U.S. still lacks a national AI strategy, compared with more than a dozen other nations that have already published their own. Congress should step up its game to ensure that the U.S. stays competitive in AI innovation, the Center for a New American Security’s Paul Scharre wrote in a recent article. Increasing government spending for AI research and focusing on recruiting (and retaining) AI talent should be a priority, Scharre said.
Speaking of other things that regulators should be doing: approving some highly anticipated crypto-related investment products. Reportedly, the government shutdown might be making “crypto winter”—which refers to a rough patch that cryptocurrencies have been going through—even worse.
Although the Office of Personnel Management is closed, the National Background Investigations Bureau is chipping away at a massive backlog of 600,000-plus background investigations. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to recall thousands of furloughed federal employees to work—without pay.
It’s difficult to tell when things will go back to normal, given the long-lasting effects of the shutdown. We’ll be bringing you more updates next week. For now, here’s some other news you can use.
|Free Live Webcast
Explore Blockchain’s Potential for Public-Private Initiatives
Join BGOV and C_TEC for a free webinar on lessons learned from blockchain innovators in government and industry. Hear about how these two sectors work together to improve the delivery of public services, and learn about how blockchain advances efficiency and security along with significant challenges to mitigate.
This free 60-minute webinar will cover:
• The most promising areas for public sector blockchain use
“Organizations are turning to AI-powered cyber defenses to counter the threat posed by intelligent cyber weapons.”
—Chris Cornillie, federal market analyst at Bloomberg Government
Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.
Strategy & Leadership
House Approves Bill to Elevate Federal CIO
House lawmakers have passed a bill to elevate the federal CIO within the White House, making it a presidentially appointed position along with the federal chief information security officer. However, the Federal CIO Authorization Act is still lacking a Senate sponsor. Read more.
Congress Pushes VA CIO to Address IT Problems
James Gfrerer only recently became CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs and he’s already being watched closely by Congress. Gfrerer was asked to “provide a comprehensive and prioritized list of VA IT projects” and metrics used for those projects. Read more.
Agencies Must Make Their Data Public, Machine-Readable
On Jan. 14 the OPEN Government Data Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump, requiring that the federal government’s data be made open and machine-readable. One proponent of the bill called it a “historic day for the open data movement.” Read more.
DOD’s Health Data Exchange Contract Facing Delays
The Defense Department is working on health record modernization, but it’s waiting to resolve a bid protest on a system that lets the agency share health data across legacy platforms. DOD’s data sharing system is currently running on a sole-source bridge contract. Read more.
|Free Live Webcast
Hear BGOV’s 2020 Federal IT Budget Request Breakdown and Explore How the DoD Used Modern Innovation to Improve Systems Management
Register today and join Bloomberg Government on February 12 for its 2020 Federal IT Budget Request Breakdown. BGOV’s federal market analyst, Chris Cornillie, will provide an overview of the 2020 information technology budget request; discuss agency-by-agency spending in key markets, including cloud and cybersecurity; and highlight some of the top upcoming opportunities for federal contractors.
Following BGOV’s update, Red Hat and Amazon Web Services will look at innovative applications and cloud services that can better manage complex projects. Recently, a department at the DoD used DevOps methodologies to manage a research and development effort with ease and efficiency.
Sign up today to learn:
- How using the OpenShift Container Platform can produce instant benefits
- How the DoD is using Cloud Regions to deliver application transformations
- How OpenShift and automated software can help to implement an effective DevOps culture
Sign up today to stream the live webcast.
Eye on Security
Why Federal Facilities Need Improved Security
While agencies have taken steps to improve security of federal facilities, there hasn’t been enough progress, according to the Government Accountability Office. Of the agencies reviewed by GAO, several had problems related to physical access control systems. Read more.
DARPA Wants to Secure Electronics Supply Chain
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for better ways of protecting the electronics and IT supply chain, so it’s turning to technologies that can track and authenticate computer hardware parts as they are made and assembled globally. Read more.
Groups Warn Against Facial Recognition in Government
The American Civil Liberties Union has teamed up with more than 85 human rights groups, urging leading companies not to sell facial recognition tech to the federal government. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were among those contacted by the coalition. Read more.
Could Blockchain Speed Up Medical Research?
Rep. David Schweikert wants to reintroduce a bill that would authorize the National Institutes of Health to conduct a blockchain pilot focused on eradicating certain infections. As part of the pilot, hospitals would get faster access to clinical data for research. Read more.
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