The Department of Health and Human Services wants to develop consumer and health care provider apps that are easier to understand. So it is launching a three-part initiative that includes software developer challenges with big-money rewards.

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FBI Director James Comey endured tough questioning by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on whether the FBI had pursued every alternative to accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s phone before going to Apple, which has challenged a Federal court order that would force the company to unlock the phone.

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To help strengthen consumers’ knowledge of health IT products, U.S. Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology proposed a new rule: the “ONC Health IT Certification Program: Enhanced Oversight and Accountability” proposal.

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The U.S. Digital Registry rolled out in late January, giving agencies the opportunity to have their online accounts confirmed by users. One of the goals of this project is to help users sift through fake sites designed to look like Federal ones.   Federal digital managers have registered accounts for over 7,300 social media accounts, […]

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The Joint Authorization Board branded ServiceNow with its coveted FedRamp Provisional Authority to Operate certification. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has more than 100 U.S. Federal government customers.

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The U.S. and European Union agreed to a data privacy deal known as the Privacy Shield that would ensure greater protection of personal data moving across the Atlantic. The deal, which replaces the Safe Harbor Agreement, implements stronger regulations and repercussions in data exchange between the U.S. and Europe.

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The Department of Defense continues to push forward with efforts to bolster its IT system. The Army awarded a $5 billion Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 3 Hardware contract for IT hardware, software, and other services, to 17 companies.

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Fight for the Future protesters gathered outside the FBI building in Washington, D.C., to stand against a court order that Apple create a program that would allow FBI officials to access the San Bernardino shooters’ phone. Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to comply with the order, creating a standoff between the company and the FBI.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has collaborated with the University of Montana and other organizations to use Google Earth Engine to create an interactive, online map tool that integrates layers of data to identify and pinpoint elusive species damaging western habitats.

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The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate handed out its first award from the Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation, which encourages nontraditional companies to come up with unusual ideas to protect national cybersecurity.

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Tech Data released Tech Data Cyber Protect, a program aimed at providing subscription-based cybersecurity solutions to cash-strapped government agencies. IBM provides the security software and Tech Dataprovides the services.

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The Defense Department has made two high-profile IT moves — in the same week President Obama announced he would dedicate more than $19 billion to secure Federal IT systems — showing its dedication to cybersecurity and infrastructure.

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President Obama appointed two industry leaders to head his Cybersecurity National Action Plan. Tom Donilon, former National Security Adviser, will serve as the chairman of the committee and Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, will serve as the vice chairman.

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A group of senior IT executives and former CIOs are attempting to direct the presidential candidates’ attention to the urgent needs of IT policy in the Federal government. They released a report, titled “Tech Iconoclasts – Voting for America’s Success in a Network World,” an open letter to the candidates that outlines five key needs in Federal IT and recommends policy to address these needs.

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Alongside the release of the proposed 2017 budget, the White House released its annual Analytical Perspectives of that proposal. MeriTalk spotted five important trends in the IT world and describes how the Federal government plans to address them.

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Encryption was a hot issue this week. FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee about the struggle of both counter-terrorism and law enforcement efforts in accessing information on encrypted devices, such as cellphones. And Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, introduced the ENCRYPT Act as a means of combating the push for decryption.

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission awarded Salient CRGT a task order with a two-year contract for roughly $1.44 million to provide the agency with Master Data Management and Enterprise Data Exchange services. Maureen Conley, NRC public affairs officer, said, “This project utilizes a private cloud, not a FedRamp compliant service.”

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The White House is looking to fill the Federal CISO position in the very near future. The posting for the job, which is designed to establish the direction of Federal cybersecurity policy and strategy in accordance with the Federal CIO, closes on Feb. 26.

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President Obama unveiled plans for addressing Federal cybersecurity issues, including a 35% increase in the cybersecurity budget. But Tom Kellermann, Chief Cybersecurity Officer for Trend Micro, worries that the plan is “completely insufficient” to address the cybersecurity needs of the nation.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving aggressively to institute a new system to plan and manage IT projects, effectively replacing the agile development methodology championed by former chief information officers Roger Baker and Stephen Warren. VA CIO LaVerne Council told a MyVA Advisory Committee meeting last week that she has hired the second of three senior executives to lead the new IT Account Management organization.

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The White House is threatening to veto HR 1675 if it passes the Senate, after the House of Representatives passed the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act that would not require most U.S. companies to file machine-readable financial statements.

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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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