Monthly Archives: May, 2013

TSP Board withholding results of security review prompted by 2011 hacking attack

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Last year, following the disclosure that 123,000 Thrift Savings Plan accounts had been hacked, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board launched a wide-ranging assessment of its computer system security. That “Tiger Team” task force review is now complete, but the board isn’t making the findings public. Instead, the agency is withholding the entire report on the grounds that disclosure “could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law,”  Amanda Haas, a Freedom of Information Act officer with the board, said in a response today to Federal Times’ FOIA request. Haas did not immediately reply to a request for more information…

Volcker pursuing new make-a-difference venture

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Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman and veteran of a couple of blue-ribbon commissions, is launching a nonpartisan initiative with the goals of rebuilding both government performance and public trust in government. “Trust rests on confidence and too often government, at all levels, in the eyes of its citizens, has been unable to respond effectively to the challenges of the day,” he said in a news release this week announcing creation of The Volcker Alliance. Heading the new organization is Shelley Metzenbaum, who recently departed the Office of Management and Budget, where she had worked since 2009 as associate director for…

DHS says Spires' departure not linked to CIO authority issues

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The Department of Homeland Security is keeping tight-lipped about the details surrounding the resignation of its former chief information officer, which it says was not prompted by disagreements over authority issues. In April, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano asking why the department CIO Richard Spires was placed on voluntary or non voluntary leave, who made the final decision regarding his leave and additional information about the current acting CIO. In a May 13 response, the department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Nelson Peacock, said personnel and…

Werfel missed at Senate hearing

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Danny Werfel is just starting his new gig as acting IRS chief, but leaders of a Senate oversight committee are already wishing he were back in his old post as controller of the Office of Management and Budget. Werfel “has demonstrated integrity in everything he’s done in the federal government,” Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said at a hearing today. “My hope is that he’s  there for a short period of time and back where we can use him in a better way.” “He really has a base of…

Attention, Combined Federal Campaign charities, PCFOs, participating employees (and anyone else involved in the CFC)

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Dear CFC community: As many of you know, the Office of Personnel Management is seeking public comment on a proposed overhaul of the campaign. As of this morning, almost 160 comments had been submitted; because the deadline for commenting is June 7, Federal Times would like to do a story for our next print issue on reaction to the plan. But we need your help. OPM isn’t posting the comments online and won’t otherwise release copies without a Freedom of Information Act request (which typically takes months to process).  So, if you’ve weighed in on the plan, we’re asking you…

Chief performance officer's job now vacant; Senate proceeding with Deese nomination

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Four years after President Obama created the post of chief performance officer to some fanfare, the job is now vacant, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget confirmed this week. “OMB does not currently have a chief performance officer,” Ari Isaacman Astles said in an email to FedLine. “The responsibilities of the CPO are being handled by the OMB management team.” Back in April 2009, Obama had tapped  Jeff Zients, who became OMB’s deputy director for management, to also serve as chief performance officer. In that role, Obama said at the time, “Jeff will work to streamline processes, cut costs,…

Amazon gets federal cloud certification

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Amazon Web Services is the latest vendor to pass a rigorous security review for all federal cloud products and services. So far, only CGI Federal and North Carolina-based Autonomic Resources have completed the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). The governmentwide program was launched in June to standardize security reviews of commercial cloud products and is housed within the General Services Administration. Under the FedRAMP program, Amazon was granted an Authority to Operate (ATO) by the Health and Human Services Department. This means HHS has certified that Amazon’s GovCloud and regional cloud service offerings meet federal security standards, and the company’s services are…

Agencies challenged to balance data sharing and security, experts say

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Agencies are on the hook to publicly release more digital data in a way that protects citizen’s personal information and does not comprise government security. One challenge, however, will be determining how that data could be combined with existing public data to identify an individual or pose other security risks to agencies, according to experts speaking at ACT-IAC’s annual Management of Change conference this week. “The awareness is there, the concern is there, [but] the practice of it is relatively immature,” said Mike Howell, deputy program manager in the Office of the Program Manager of the Information Sharing Environment. “The…

GSA to launch cloud broker pilot

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The General Services Administration is moving forward with plans to stand up a cloud broker contract for acquiring and managing the performance of federal cloud services. The Department of Homeland Security is one of two agencies that has committed to testing GSA’s cloud broker model in a pilot program expected to launch this fall, said GSA’s Mark Day. Speaking Monday at the annual Management of Change conference in Maryland, Day said GSA will award one contract to test the concept of a broker model and reevaluate the pilot by year’s end to determine how it could be expanded. GSA has not yet defined…

Contract flaws found in GSA Disney trip

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More than half of the attendees at a big training meeting in 2011 for the General Services Administration’s acquisition arm hailed from the Washington area, but when it came time to figure out a location, officials headed to sunny Orlando instead. As outlined in a memo released by the GSA’s Inspector General this week, a review found that Federal Acquisition Service officials settled on a contract proposal for conference planning and training that came to nearly a quarter million dollars, while the next highest vendor proposed just $79,784. Despite the price, the IG found that officials essentially steered the conference…

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