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Senate-approved legislation that would boost Federal funding for U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing and provide the National Science Foundation (NSF) with another $52 billion over five years for research initiatives received strong endorsements from private sector witnesses at a July 15 Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing.

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IT

For once, the biggest problem with engineering effective IT modernization may not boil down to a lack of money to tackle the job. That conclusion was a top-line takeaway from Republicans, Democrats, and private sector experts at a hearing of the House Government Operations Subcommittee hearing today on how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed state and local governments’ antiquated IT systems, and what governments should do about it now that pandemic conditions are easing in many areas.

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A week after seeking information on ransom pay from two other ransomware victims, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a June 10 letter to JBS Foods USA asking for information about its reported decision to pay an $11 million ransom, the committee announced.

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ransomware
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House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and several chairs of the panel’s key subcommittees today asked inspectors general (IGs) from ten Federal agencies for assessments of any cybersecurity vulnerabilities that were created or worsened by the use of telework systems during the coronavirus pandemic, and whether any such vulnerabilities have been mitigated.

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Cyber workforce people

House Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is asking the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to proceed with caution as it decides when and to what degree to have Federal employees return to their traditional office workplaces.

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Army DoD military Defense AI

The Defense Department (DoD) is working to foster innovation in the information technology space, and is due to report findings of an assessment of its research engineering workforce later this year, a DoD official told members of Congress today. 

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In a short executive session today, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee advanced the nomination of Eric Lander to be the next director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). His nomination will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

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Pentagon Military Defense DoD

Senators expressed concern that the Department of Defense (DoD) is not doing enough to support small businesses in the defense industrial base (DIB) to implement or subsidize cybersecurity protocols, including the DoD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certificate (CMMC) at a May 18 Senate Subcommittee on Cybersecurity hearing.

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Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., ranking member of the House Government Operations Subcommittee, urged the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a May 18 letter to bring Federal employees back to their pre-pandemic workplaces quickly, or explain how the Biden administration will deal going forward with the billions of dollars it spends on currently underutilized facilities if Federal employees continue large-scale work from other locations.

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With the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack adding to the count of high-profile cyberattacks to make news in the past six months, members of Congress focused in on how the United States can deter such attacks, as well as how to attract talent to the cyber workforce, at a May 14 House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

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Federal money spending government

Federal Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) saved the government an estimated $53 billion through investigations in fiscal year 2020, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) reported in its annual report to Congress and the President.

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The top members of the House Government Operations Subcommittee indicated today that Federal IT modernization – and the role that the newly expanded Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) can play in furthering that goal – loom large in their thinking as they consider the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s ongoing tracking of Federal agency IT improvements via the FITARA Scorecard.

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IT workers workforce technology federal employees-min

With the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) now having gone over four years without a quorum, Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., are urging President Biden to appoint new members or risk the board having to cease operations.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has named five subcommittee vice chairs, including Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., who will serve as vice chair of the Government Operations subcommittee that is a prime conduit for Federal IT-related legislation.

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cybersecurity
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Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addressed a range of questions about the nation’s cybersecurity and spoke on how to better secure Federal networks in a March 17 House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

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The Senate as of late Friday afternoon was continuing to debate the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which contains considerable increases in Federal government funding for agency IT modernization and security upgrades.

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Budget Federal spending

The Senate was expected later today to introduce its version of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, and to begin 20 hours of scheduled debate on the legislation.

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Cybersecurity
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