MeriTalk News Briefs: NDAA Cloture, New Cyber Faces, VA Cloud Updates

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.

Sen. McConnell Filed Cloture on NDAA

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed cloture for H.R. 5515, The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, putting the Senate on track for procedural votes to cut off debate on Thursday, June 14. The NDAA, along with its 45 amendments, is seen as a must-pass piece of legislation. The move by McConnell also puts a cap on the addition of new amendments to the bill, leaving some senators dismayed. Sens. James Lankford R-Okla., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., urged their colleagues to include their election security in the bill before the vote. An amendment banning government agencies from buying goods and services from China-based communications equipment makers ZTE and Huawei did make the cut.

Senate Approves Krebs Nomination

After a memorable Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs confirmation hearing, in which Christopher Krebs announced his wife’s pregnancy to the world (and his parents), Krebs has been confirmed as undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Programs and Protection Directorate (NPPD) by the Senate. Krebs, who had his first confirmation hearing in April, is NPPD’s first permanent undersecretary in well over a year. While awaiting final confirmation, Krebs has been effectively on the job with the title of “senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary of the NPPD.” NPPD is the government-wide leader in protecting and enhancing the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyber infrastructure.

White House DoE Cybersecurity Chief Nomination

The White House announced that Karen Evans is President Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary for cybersecurity, energy security and emergency response at the Department of Energy (DoE). Evans, who previously served as e-government administrator under President George W. Bush, has been running the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a public-private program designed to enhance the size and quality of the cybersecurity workforce. If Evans is approved to head the newly created office, it will mark her return to DoE where she once served as the department’s CIO. The new office will be called CESER, pronounced “Caesar,” and will serve as a sector-specific infrastructure defense office. The current House appropriations bill includes $146 million in funding for its FY 2019 launch.

VA Looks for Antivirus Software, Sees Adoption and Savings in Cloud

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Tuesday released a request for information (RFI) for an Enterprise Endpoint Security Solution. VA wants to migrate its current Enterprise Anti-Virus (EAV) Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) to the cloud. Its current McAfee model includes hardware hosted on-premises, and VA is looking for an antivirus solution that has achieved FedRAMP Moderate status. “In addition, the contractor will be responsible for the Operations and Maintenance of VA s EAV HIPS environment while it undergoes the transition to the FedRAMP moderate, cloud hosted environment,” the RFI states. In other news, Aaron Wieczorek, digital services expert at the U.S. Digital Service deployed at VA, said Wednesday at ATARC’s Cloud & Data Center Summit that more than 360,000 veterans have applied for benefits using the Vets.gov online cloud portal. He also said that Vets.gov and Caseflow–a cloud-hosted tool used for benefits claims appeals–cost VA 85 percent less than if they were hosted on-premises.

House Republicans Urge President to Rescind Workforce EOs

A group of 21 House Republicans, in a June 11 letter to President Trump, have asked him to rescind three executive orders signed last month and aimed at overhauling the Federal workforce. The three EOs made firing employees easier, cut the time government employees can spend on union duties, and shortened the collective bargaining period for unions. “We urge you to uphold the current law and long-standing Federal labor statutes that protect America’s civil servants from discrimination, unfair treatment, and sexual harrassment,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that the three Executive Orders undermine existing labor laws and we ask that you rescind them.” Large labor unions, including the American Federation of Government Employees and National Treasury Employees Union, have sued the administration over one or more aspects of the EOs.

USDS Co-Founder Joins FTC

Erie Meyer, co-founder of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), has accepted a position with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Meyer will work in the office of Commissioner Rohit Chopra, a Democrat who is also new to the FTChaving been sworn in early last month. Meyer will serve as Chopra’s technologist, a brand new position for the FTC. “It’s tough for government to hold industries accountable without understanding how they truly work,” Chopra tweeted. “That’s why I’m thrilled that Erie Meyer has joined the FTC as my office’s Technologist.” Prior to her work with USDS, Meyer worked with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s Tech and Innovation Team. She later served as senior adviser to then-U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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