What’s New This Week:
No End in Sight
It’s hard to focus on anything beside the partial government shutdown, which has dragged into its third week with no resolution in sight. Federal agencies and their employees are feeling the effects. At the Transportation Security Administration, the shutdown is preventing the agency from moving ahead with its $230 million contract consolidation, delaying data-security efforts.
On a grander scale, the shutdown has weakened cybersecurity in the U.S., according to one report. A Duo Security survey revealed that nearly 45 percent of employees at the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as 85 percent of employees at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have been furloughed. That means federal cybersecurity workers are strained to carry out “essential” operations on their own. But cyber threats “don’t operate on Washington’s political timetable and they don’t stop because of a shutdown,” Lisa Monaco, former assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told Axios.
Although other parts of the government’s cybersecurity apparatus remain fully operational—including the Pentagon and the U.S. Cyber Command—the effects will not be apparent in the short term, another report found. However, the talent pool of cybersecurity professionals willing to work for the government could be limited going forward.
The shutdown may have long-term consequences for overall IT recruiting and retention efforts by federal agencies, Rep. Robin Kelly said in a statement. Finding and keeping tech talent is already a struggle for agencies, and the shutdown may make it worse, Kelly warned.
Meanwhile, several government officials couldn’t attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a major tech trade show in Las Vegas last week, because of the political stalemate.
With everything that’s going on, let’s not lose sight of what we’re here to discuss: the important work that agencies and federal IT leaders are doing. This week’s exclusive story from BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explores how the Air Force is partnering with the General Services Administration for a fast-track cloud-based development platform. The platform will help the Air Force Space Command speed up the process of building, testing, and deploying software and of processing new data sources.
If you’re hungry for more news, keep reading!
“GSA is evaluating the use of Commercial Solutions Openings as another acquisition method for innovative and commercial solutions. GSA has developed this pilot program to explore how private sector commercial acquisition approaches, outside the normal Federal Acquisition Regulations requirements, can be used as a viable, more efficient, and more effective procurement solution.”
—General Services Administration
Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.
Proposed Data Center Policy Needs Tweaking
The Trump administration’s draft Data Center Optimization Initiative policy, focused on closing data centers, has only received a few comments so far. But most of the suggestions call for several changes to the proposed metrics and overall intent of the policy update. Read more.
There’s a New Committee for Modernizing Congress
The House of Representatives has voted to create a Select Committee for the Modernization of Congress. The bipartisan committee would be tasked with updating backend technology in Congress; however, it’s likely to face challenges over competing priorities. Read more.
Eye on Security
DARPA Wants to Improve How Sensitive Data Is Transferred
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is in search of innovative hardware and software solutions that can improve the way the agency tracks and protects sensitive data as it travels from highly secure systems to insecure, internet-facing ones. Read more.
How the Bureau of Fiscal Service Is Improving Citizen Services
User authentication is one of the federal government’s most challenging technology projects. That’s why the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service has developed a strategy to “finally kill the password dead” by applying two-factor authentication to its services. Read more.
New Law Supports Quantum Computing Research
Now that the National Quantum Initiative Act has been signed into law, a group of federal agencies will get the funds—$1.2 billion to be exact—to spearhead quantum research and related programs. NASA and the Energy Department are among those agencies. Read more.
Why Drones Are Useful to Non-Defense Agencies
The Defense Department is an early adopter of drones, but it’s not the only agency that finds unmanned aerial systems beneficial. The Department of Interior has been using drones for data collection, land management, and emergency response. Read more.
In the Cloud
ICE Makes Progress on Cloud Migration
The U.S.-Mexico border isn’t the only thing keeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement busy. The agency has been shifting its production systems to the cloud and is more than halfway done with the migration, although it ran into latency issues along the way. Read more.
Army Uses Game Theory to Stop Cloud Attacks
Army Research Laboratory engineers have developed an algorithm based on game theory. Service providers working with the Defense Department could use the mathematical framework to lessen the impact of cyberattacks in the cloud, according to the researchers. Read more.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Bloomberg Government’s Technocrat!