Federal agencies might not meet the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) data center closure goals, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Based on current projections, only 7,221 of the 12,062 data centers that agencies reported in August 2017 will be closed by September of this year.






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Despite an air of uncertainty coming from the Trump administration, the Department of Energy’s research arm is forging ahead with what it calls “transformational research,” putting up $100 million to try to ensure that it doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to potentially disruptive energy research.






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MeriTalk compiles a weekly roundup of contracts and other industry activity. Here’s what happened this week in the Federal Information Technology community.






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The Government Accountability Office found that 62 percent of major information technology software development investments were certified by the agency chief information officer for using adequate incremental development in fiscal year 2017. However, a number of responses for the remaining investments were incorrectly reported due to agency error.






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The Department of Energy plans to roll out an enterprise risk management framework that would provide cybersecurity data about the agency in one place and enable better information sharing between departments.
“The enemy isn’t a hacker in the basement,” said Micah Czigan, director of the Integrated Joint Cybersecurity Coordination Center for DOE. “The enemy is a world power nation-state.”






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Cybersecurity experts offered solutions to protect the U.S. electric grid, including moving the grid off of the public Internet, and using quantum encryption capabilities. “The nation’s electrical grid is a vital resource upon which our economy and our citizens’ daily lives depend,” said Richard Raines, director of the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “It is also a system that is highly vulnerable to cyber intrusions as more and more utility controls and ‘smart’ technologies rely on public Internet connections.”






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Agencies are looking at ways to secure the edge of their systems in order to support a more mobile workforce. “The edge is where the mission happens,” said Max Everett, CIO of the Department of Energy. “We’re in the midst of a transformation. It’s modernization with a plan.”






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Incorporating automation into the U.S. electric grid can both improve recovery capabilities in the event of an outage and present new cybersecurity dangers, according to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report.






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Over the past few years, the department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has started using cloud computing services. Michael Giardinelli, a senior software engineer and technical team lead at PNNL, said the lab’s 16 counterparts across the nation have embarked on similar cloud journeys. “A lot of them are moving in same direction as us,” Giardinelli said. “One key thing is collaboration amongst labs, like when working through the power grid.”






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Energy Savings Performance Contracts are a good way for Federal agencies to reduce their data centers’ energy footprint, according to Timothy Unruh, director of the Federal Energy Management Program for the Department of Energy.






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The White House announced the creation of 29 tools Thursday that use Federal and local data to address problems identified by Federal agencies as part of the Opportunity Project, an open data effort to improve economic mobility for all Americans.






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Strategic plans and scorecards are essential to effectively budgeting their cybersecurity needs, agency officials said. Michael Johnson, CIO of the Department of Energy, said the agency uses the DOE Cyber Strategy for information sharing and safeguarding, using multifactor authentication, and focusing on research and development.






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