Ashkan Soltani, the former CTO at the Federal Trade Commission who joined the White House in December to advise U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, is stepping down after being denied a security clearance. Soltani played an active role in the Washington Post’s reporting on the National Security Agency surveillance programs leaked to the media by Edward Snowden.






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In a new report, the Government Accountability Office said some of the definitions provided to Federal agencies for reporting spending data under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 are inadequate, and “could lead to inconsistent reporting.”






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The Data Transparency Coalition is changing its name to Data Coalition and opening a new research center as it gathers steam to push to standardize and publish all government information as open data.






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The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved updated cybersecurity standards for the nation’s electric utilities, aimed at preventing attacks. FERC’s seven updated critical infrastructure protection reliability standards require large utilities to conduct cybersecurity training at least once a quarter and to deploy two or more physical access controls outside their security perimeters.






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The State Department’s Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources has redesigned its main Web portal for making data on U.S. government foreign aid available to lawmakers, international aid organizations, and the general public. But a major effort is underway to improve the quality of the data collected and the site’s analytics capabilities.






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FedRAMP Fast Forward, a Federal IT industry advocacy group, today published a six-step plan to reform and improve the cloud security certification process known as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).






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The Office of Personnel Management is relieved of the duties of conducting security clearances. Those duties instead go to a brand new agency, the National Background Investigations Bureau.






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Shawn Kingsberry, who led the first Federal technology system, Recovery.gov, to the cloud, will head Unisys Corporation’s global government practice division. Kingsberry will provide guidance to Federal clients as they transition from manual and analog processes to digital government techniques.






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Juniper Networks announced that it has been selected as the original equipment manufacturer on four contracts to modernize the U.S. Air Force network infrastructure, partnering with Affigent and ThunderCat Technology.






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A new report by the Congressional Research Service found flaws in keeping track of the size of Federal agencies, and noted that the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security are having trouble recruiting and training cybersecurity professionals.






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The Veterans Benefits Administration is falling short in the way it is managing the progress of its Veteran’s Benefits Management System (VBMS), a system that was responsible for processing $63 billion in claims in 2014, Valerie Melvin, director of information technology at the Government Accountability Office, told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.






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Will the Federal government’s embrace of Silicon Valley actually achieve anything of importance? In a column published in Federal Computer Week, Cisco Systems executives Alan Balutis and Stuart Robbins raise concerns about a government partnership with Silicon Valley that is in danger of producing little more than a few new shiny apps and websites.






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A MeriTalk survey finds that Federal agencies are in need of an efficiency jump-start, and 78 percent of Feds believe DevOps will help agencies innovate faster responses and services. Legacy systems are slowing agencies down, and new apps just add to the inertia.






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The Government Accountability Office, in a new report, said the Small Business Administration needs to do more to upgrade IT security. The SBA, which hands out billions in loan guarantees to small businesses, said it has fixed more than 30 recommendations.






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Contractor Unisys said the Department of the Interior has completed the migration of its SAP-based financial and business management system (FBMS) to the cloud, making it the first Federal agency to do so.






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Federal agencies could save $40.7 billion in annual productivity by switching from legacy voice systems to a Unified Communications solution, a new MeriTalk survey found.






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President Barack Obama is directing the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to deliver a strategy within 90 days that will expedite the deployment of modern technologies that could help keep children, criminals, and the mentally ill away from guns.






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