MeriTalk News Briefs: House Okays Ag BB Bill, 18F Execs Move to Civic Tech, GAO Weighs in on Fed Reorg

Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

House Okays Precision Agriculture Connectivity Bill

The House on Monday night voted 378-4 to approve the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act (HR 4881) that would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create the Task Force for Meeting Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. The task force would identify and measure current gaps in broadband service coverage of cropland and ranchland, create a guide of Federal programs and resources working to expand service access on unserved cropland and ranchland, and develop recommendations to “promote the rapid, expanded deployment of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service” on those unserved lands. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved companion legislation (S. 2343) on April 25.

Former 18F Execs Join Civic Tech Startup

Rebecca Piazza and Sarah Milstein, formerly of 18F, have joined Nava Public Benefit Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based civic tech startup. Piazza, who left her job as executive director at 18F in June, will now serve as vice president of program delivery. Milstein is the startups new vice president of business development. She previously worked as 18F’s head of sales and marketing.

New GAO Blog Post on Agency Reorg Considerations

The Government Accountability Office today published a new blog post on its WatchBlog page, which considers how the Federal government might be able to effectively reorganize. The post delves into what types of questions agencies can begin to ask themselves when trying to enact efficiency-driven reforms. The blog post also links to a July 13 report from GAO, which provides further questions that Congress can ask Federal agencies to ensure they are on track to achieve the reforms sought. President Trump’s Federal government reorganization plan came under congressional scrutiny most recently at a July 17 hearing, and the plan holds implications for the cybersecurity workforce, and IT citizen services in particular.

NGA Seeking New CTO

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is advertising to hire a new chief technology officer. The job description headlines with serving as the “senior interface for technology to the IC, the military services, the combatant commands, industry, and academia.”

Blackboard Achieves FedRAMP Authorization

Blackboard was granted FedRAMP Low-Impact Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) authorization for Blackboard Learn, its learning management system available on Amazon Web Services GovCloud. Blackboard is one of the first cloud services provider to complete the streamlined FedRAMP Tailored for Low-Impact SaaS solutions process. FedRamp Tailored is designed to provide a faster authorization process for industry solutions that are low risk and cost. Blackboard Learn SaaS can now be used by all Federal agencies that meet the requirements for Low Impact SaaS.

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