While the Defense Department has grown fond of referring to cyberspace as the new, fourth operational venue – along with sea, air and land – it does not warrant its own, independent branch of the armed services, said Vice Adm. Ted Branch, director of Naval Intelligence.
The Defense Department would see nearly $500 billion in discretionary funding in fiscal 2015 under a bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee June 10. The $491 billion spending bill (pdf) would increase DoD appropriations by $4.1 billion over the fiscal 2014 enacted level and $200 million more than President Obama's request.
As the Defense Department deals with budget constraints, the size of the staff at its Central Command has increased by 70 percent since fiscal 2001 and the DoD doesn't know how it will continue to pay for the increased personnel, a June 9 Government Accountability Office report says. The number of authorized military and civilian positions at CENTCOM grew from almost 1,590 in fiscal year 2001 to almost 2,730 in fiscal year 2013, because of a growing number of intelligence and special operations employees, the report says.
The Defense Department said some cyber attacks to federal and other global computer systems can be "attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," in its annual report to Congress.
Although China has stopped participating in the U.S.-China Cyber Working Group, U.S. officials would still like to pursue an open discussion on core issues that will benefit both parties, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The Merit Systems Protection Board has so far decided against federal employees in every sequestration-related furlough case that reached a decision as of March 31. "Of the appeals adjudicated on the merits, 100 percent of the initial decisions affirmed the furlough action taken by the agency," the report (pdf) says.
A new rule would limit the amount contractors could charge the government for any of their employees' salaries under cost-reimbursement contracts. Currently contractors can charge back $487,000 for employee salaries, but the ceiling only applies to top senior executives. With the new Federal Acquisition Regulation rule, that limit would be expanded to all employees including scientists and engineers.
Sequestration in fiscal 2013 significantly reduced services provided by federal agencies, including public housing assistance, border inspections and military training. The Defense Department reported that canceled or limited military training and readiness activities due to sequestration could increase the number of non-deployable units, decrease surge capacity to meet additional requirements with ready forces and lead to skills gaps, a May 28 Government Accountability Office report says.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a comprehensive review of the military's health system May 27 that will focus on whether the DoD is delivering safe, high-quality healthcare to service members and their families. The review will look into both military treatment facilities and into health care that the DoD purchases from civilian providers, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
The Homeland Security Department would have more flexibility in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals under a bill introduced May 20 by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). The bill (S.2354) was reported favorably to the full committee May 21 and aims to help the department compete with the private sector in staffing its cybersecurity workforce.