Technocrat | September 24, 2018: To Shut Down or Not to Shut Down? That Is the Question

There may not be a government shutdown this year. The budgetary stars have aligned so far. That’s a big deal, given the government’s history of blown deadlines.

In hopes of dodging the Sept. 30 shutdown deadline, the Senate just approved a wide-ranging bill that would fund the military and other civilian agencies for the next year. That includes $675 billion for the Defense Department, with $147.9 billion going toward military equipment and upgrades.

As we’ve already noted, the government’s spending spree is in full swing. Agencies could spend as much as $300 billion in the final quarter of fiscal 2018. One recent survey found that 52 percent of federal government decision-makers are confident their agencies would spend the rest of this year’s budget. More than 80 percent of those surveyed said the remaining money would be allocated to existing contract vehicles, with IT making up 26 percent of the most common near-term purchases.

When it comes to helping cash-strapped agencies invest in IT projects, that funding remains up in the air. The Technology Modernization Fund is a key pillar in federal chief information officer Suzette Kent’s IT modernization strategy. At the moment, the status of the TMF remains unknown, and failure to secure its funding would be a major blow to Kent’s agenda. However, delaying some cash could also prove beneficial for this governmentwide revolving capital fund. BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains why in this week’s exclusive story.

Meanwhile, here’s some cybersecurity news you can’t miss. The State Department is the latest victim of a data breach, which affected its unclassified email system. Although the hack reportedly involved only a small number of employee inboxes, privacy watchdogs have criticized the agency for insufficient cybersecurity protections.

Maybe it’s finally time to invest in bug bounties—also known as crowd-sourced security programs—which have been pretty effective in the private sector. In fact, lawmakers are fond of paying skilled hackers to find weaknesses in federal computer networks.




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Get Smart

“If the TMF doesn’t get funded it’s going to be a massive disappointment. Everyone wants to see it succeed.”

—Mike Hettinger, lobbyist and former staffer with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Data Sharing

Why the Tech Industry and Agencies Should Join Forces

As the White House works to standardize cyber capabilities across the government, agencies and the private sector need to improve how they share info on potential threats among themselves, said Office of Management and Budget cyber expert Joshua Moses. Read more.

Top Five Challenges of Intra-Agency Data Sharing

There are several data-sharing roadblocks facing the Department of Health and Human Services’ 29 component agencies. A new report highlights those challenges, among which is HHS’s lack of processes allowing one agency to request data from another. Read more.

Eye on Security

Lawmakers Ready to Embrace Ethical Hackers

The House Homeland Security Committee has advanced a pair of bipartisan bills that would force the Department of Homeland Security to allow security researchers to probe the agency for cybersecurity vulnerabilities. But the agency is not happy about it. Read more.

Energy Department Focuses on Cyber, Physical Threats

Karen Evans, the newly appointed head of the Energy Department’s cybersecurity office, is looking to build relationships with emergency response and other federal agencies like Homeland Security. Evans said the brand-new office has big immediate plans. Read more.

Next Tech

HHS Turns to Blockchain for Innovative Acquisition Strategy  

The Health and Human Services Department is using blockchain technology to give contracting officers visibility into the entire department’s acquisition process. Thanks to the new system, everyone will be able to see the same data, but make their own decisions. Read more.

Facial Recognition Poses Risks to Agencies

Facial recognition may seem to be the perfect fit for law enforcement and clerical purposes. But according to California’s Senator Kamala Harris, agencies need to get with the program and understand that the controversial technology comes with real biases and risks. Read more.

Beyond Legacy

Navy Seeks Hardware Devices ‘As a Service’

The Navy has opened bidding on one part of its multibillion-dollar, next-gen network modernization program and is looking to procure end-user hardware. Soon after the award, the Navy will start phasing out legacy systems in favor of hardware-as-a-service. Read more.

Inside Special Ops’ $350M Training Contract

The U.S. Special Operations Force released more details about its training contract known as SOF RAPTOR IV, which will include everything from training services and products to prototyping and software development. The final RFP is planned for October.

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