Reps. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., and Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., are seeking more information on efforts by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) efforts to reduce security risks to Federal networks through the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA).

[…]

IRS
three-keys-to-cybersecurity

Kenneth Wainstein, the Biden administration’s nominee to become undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), fielded questions on several tech-related issues from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee at a Jan. 12 committee hearing to consider his nomination.

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electric grid

The Department of Energy (DoE) announced plans to upgrade the U.S. electricity grid with a major aim of helping to protect vital energy infrastructure against supply disruptions caused by environmental, physical, and cyberattacks, and to minimize the impact of supply disruptions.

[…]

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., have sent letters to the IRS, Social Security Administration (SSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking feedback on how the agencies are implementing the CASES Act.

[…]

NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its cybersecurity guidance for system engineers, adding more insight for engineers and programmers on mitigating system vulnerabilities.

[…]

Facing over $4.6 billion in potentially fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and continuing challenges with IT investments, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has yet to meet its goal to revise the agency’s Certify system by the end of 2021, according to SBA Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware.

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capitol washington dc senate house congress-min

The Senate on Jan. 11 voted to approve the nomination of Alan Davidson as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, and head of the agency’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

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Coast Guard
broadband 5g -min

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published a notice on the Federal Register today looking for input on how to best distribute over $48 billion in new broadband funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

[…]

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is looking into how obstacles, including trees and buildings, impact millimeter waves – which is a new class of signal that 5G technology will use.

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General Services Administration GSA

The General Services Administration (GSA) issued an updated request for information (RFI) this week that aims to help Federal government senior executives improve workforce policies and initiatives.

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The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) plans to publish new regulations governing Federal anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection, following a 2021 law to improve agency accountability and transparency in discrimination-related incidents.

[…]

Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kiran Ahuja emphasized in a recent report summing up the Federal government’s experience with telework during Fiscal Year 2020 that the practice will remain important to the government going forward particularly in creating further resiliency of agency operations and in helping workforce recruiting efforts.

[…]

A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., is asking Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the agencies’ ability to meet their responsibilities as co-Sector Risk Management Agencies (SRMA) to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats to critical transportation infrastructure.

[…]

The White House on Jan. 4 sent to the Senate fresh nominations for dozens of senior Federal government posts, including key positions at the Department of Energy (DoE), the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) made seven new appointments to its Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC), according to a Dec. 20 press release.

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FCC

The Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 30 released membership rosters for the six working groups of its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), which provides advice to the agency on how to improve security and reliability of U.S. communications systems.

[…]

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has established new criteria for Federal agencies hiring data scientists by releasing its new occupational series for data scientists in government – a project that has been more than two years in development.

[…]

Information security remains a prevalent concern for the State Department based on numerous previous recommendations regarding fundamental information technology-related issues that still require close attention, according to a recent agency Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.

The report assesses 107 unclassified, open OIG recommendations from 19 reports addressed to the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) as of July 30, 2021. OIG found that IRM had addressed three of the 107 recommendations and closed one duplicative recommendation related to risk management, one related to data protection and privacy, and one related to general IT policies. Additionally, OIG closed 14 recommendations in August 2021 as part of its normal compliance process.

However, the remaining 90 recommendations – 57 percent of which dated back to fiscal 2019 or earlier – remain relevant and require “close attention to close them,” the report read.

A larger number of the recommendations involve configuration management of products and systems to ensure information security. The other unaddressed recommendations pertain to several areas including as risk management, IT investments, contingency planning, and shared services.

To facilitate closing the remaining recommendations addressed to IRM, OIG made two recommendations to Carol Perez, the agency’s under secretary for management. OIG recommended her office develop a method for periodically reviewing IRM’s efforts – and indicated that step has since been taken.

OIG also recommended that Perez’s office verify IRM plans of action and milestones (POA&M) documented for all 90 recommendations. However, Perez disagreed with that recommendation, explaining that if the end goal is for IRM to solve open recommendations, developing an individual action plan for each recommendation is “overly cumbersome.”

“IRM’s staff, time, and resources are better spent working on compliance-related activities, maintaining a high standard of day-to-day operations, and communicating directly with OIG,” Perez wrote in her response to OIG.

However, OIG argued that under guidance from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, agencies are required to develop a POA&M, and that Perez must submit a POA for the recommendation.

[…]

FCC

According to a research survey from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of parents surveyed said their child faced technology-related obstacles causing them to fall behind their peers with proper broadband connectivity and technology access. Students who lacked these necessities for remote learning experienced what is often called the “homework gap,” which impact may continue to be felt in the future. 

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