Agencies not always leveraging FedRAMP correctly in cloud contract language, say GSA officials

Two and a half years in, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which aims to help agencies and departments more quickly and securely procure cloud services, is being adopted in pockets across the federal government, but not always correctly, say General Services Administration officials during a Dec. 16 press briefing.

DoD allows vetted commercial cloud services for sensitive unclassified data, updated guidance says

The guidance essentially codifies certain actions that have already occurred. For example, in August, Amazon Web Services became the first authorized commercial cloud provider to host sensitive unclassified data for DoD.

New VA pilot studies how tech can help doctors find patterns, insights within data

The Veterans Affairs Department has started a two-year pilot project to study how technology can help physicians make better clinical decisions as they contend with an ever-increasing amount of medical data such as electronic health records and medical literature.

Public comment sought on NIST draft on developing metrics to select cloud providers

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking public comment on a new draft guide that could help government agencies and other organizations make better decisions in choosing the right cloud computing provider for them.

Report: FBI cautions threat from Iran

The FBI issued a confidential "flash" report Dec. 12, warning defense contractors, energy firms and education institutions, among other U.S. businesses, to monitor for an Iranian hacking campaign, according to a report from Reuters.

GSA wants to assess IT supply chain risk management governmentwide

The General Services Administration wants to know how it can provide better due diligence for acquisitions involving government information technology. It's working with customer agencies to establish a common set of indicators that could be used to for a supply chain risk assessment.

Congress sends Obama several bills designed to strengthen cybersecurity

Congress has sent President Obama several cybersecurity bills for his signature, including one designed to bolster the security of federal information systems and another to help the Homeland Security Department hire and keep cybersecurity experts.

US not as friendly to civilian drone R&D as other countries, witnessess tell House lawmakers

If federal regulators don't revamp rules designed to accelerate drone research and development for civilian use, U.S. companies will likely shift testing and operations – and jobs – abroad, several witnesses told a House subcommittee last week.

GSA advises federal agencies on how to release more datasets to the public

The General Services Administration, which oversees and manages the federal government's open data hub, has released a document to help more agencies publish their datasets to the platform for public use. Because the platform called doesn't actually host the data, but instead aggregates metadata about open data assets in one place, the metadata is only as good as agencies' data, writes the agency in a DigitalGov blog post Dec. 10.

Information about 'novel' technologies to enhance long-term US military advantage sought

The Pentagon has issued a request for information seeking current or emerging technologies that could provide a military advantage to the United States and its allies over the next 15 years.

New Navy Dept. CIO hopes to reduce administrative burdens

The Navy Department's new Acting Chief Information Officer John Zangardi is reviewing his office's operations to identify areas where administrative burdens can be eliminated or reduced, he said in his first address since taking the position Oct. 24.

OPM envisions fully automated retirement processing system of the future

Federal retirement claims processing will eventually be fully automated, at least that's the vision of one Office of Personnel Management official. In the interim, OPM is focused on procuring a process and case management system to track business workflows that increase transparency and efficiencies, said Kenneth Zawodny, assistant director of retirement services at OPM.

Standardized cloud SLAs needed, says DHS official

Complex, non-standardized cloud computing service level agreements make comparing cloud offerings during procurement and ensuring proper execution once work is underway difficult for federal agencies and departments, said a Homeland Security Department Official.

Secret US court extends phone, Internet bulk collection program as Senate debates reform

A secret U.S. federal court recently extended a National Security Agency program, allowing U.S. spy agencies to continue  the bulk collection of telephone and Internet metadata for another 90 days as the Senate debates a bill that would reform the program.

DARPA seeks proposals on how to better counter advanced persistent cyber threats

Researchers at the Defense Department are seeking proposals to improve the understanding of complex computing environments with an eye toward identifying and preventing sophisticated and advanced cyber attacks.

DoD sets sights on standardized data output

Defense Department Acting Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen is working with commanders, including U.S. Cyber Commander Adm. Michael Rogers, to set cyber technical and mission standards across the department. A core focus of the effort is standardizing the way data is output, said Halvorsen during a Dec. 5 press call.

Input sought on new federal health IT strategy focused on data collection, sharing and use

Federal health IT officials are requesting feedback on a new draft strategy that seeks to modernize the healthcare system, including improving individual care and expanding research. More than 35 federal agencies have worked on developing the draft that identifies priorities to advance the collection, sharing and use of electronic health information.

DoD to begin going live January 1 with core portion of JIE

The Defense Department will begin going live with pieces of its Joint Regional Security Stacks on January 1 and will continue rolling out JRSS across locations with the goal of reaching all JRSS installations by the end of 2016, said DoD Acting Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen. JRSS will reach initially operating capability across the DoD network by the end of 2016, and JRSS capability will be 98 percent complete by the end of 2017, he said.

HHS: Info exchange and financial incentives top reasons for EHR adoption

The ability to exchange clinical information and take advantage of financial incentives came in as the two top reason why healthcare providers adopt electronic health records, says a Dec. 5 Health and Human Services Department data brief. The data brief (pdf) details why physicians decided to adopt, or not adopt, EHRs. The brief is also meant to help explain how financial incentives drive EHR adoption.

Justice Department forms new unit to provide expert legal advice on cybersecurity investigations

A top Justice Department official last week announced the creation of a new cybersecurity unit that will provide "a central hub for expert advice and legal guidance" regarding U.S. and international laws that help law enforcement fight cyberattacks.