Lawmakers Looks For Ways Around Sequestration – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • In the 2014 budget request the White House sent to Congress one of the few areas to not get cut dramatically was cybersecurity. But before we pour resources into protecting our networks from cyberattacks it is important to know from where and from who these attacks are coming. We take a look at the new Verizon Data Breach report.

Sequestration: Day 54 

The impacts of sequestration become more real with air travel issues following the FAA furloughs.

But the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal has this:

The ability to combine disparate sets of information, a  hallmark of Big Data, may help epidemiologists contain the latest strain of avian flu, known as H7N9–assuming that budget cuts don’t interfere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release this year an application called BioMosaic, which helps researchers visualize and correlate data sets such as demographics, rainfall and weather patterns, topography and transportation. It can help predict health conditions at county levels.  For example, it can be used to detect areas in the U.S. where the most vulnerable people may have come into contact with travelers from afflicted regions around the world.

The application was unveiled Monday at the Atlanta-based Big Data Week conference by Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s division of global migration and quarantine. It will be available at the end of September as a Web app, and as a mobile app available to the public (with a less complete data set) at the end of the year.

It remains to be seen, however, if the CDC’s overall efforts can withstand budget cuts. In answer to a question from the audience during the same session, Thomas Madden, the CDC’s chief information security officer, said “we feel a little bit like we’re caught in a political fight.” He said he can put off canceling projects for a few more months, but said that if the agency is forced to further reduce its budget, “we’re going to have to take some pretty tough actions.”

Meanwhile lawmakers look for ways around sequestration:

  • Politico: Hills newest earmarks: Sequester exemptions: Agencies, companies and other groups are on the hunt for Capitol Hill allies with the juice to save their pet issues from the full force of the across-the-board cuts. 
  • Most Expect ‘ Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The General Services Administration plans to add up to 10,000 hybrid cars to its fleet — effectively doubling the number — in an attempt to get agencies to replace conventional vehicles with more fuel-efficient ones. Federal Times reports, agencies will be able to lease the new hybrid vehicles at the same cost as conventional vehicles if they join GSA’s fleet management system.
  2. Employee unions are pressing the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to give employees more options to borrow against their Thrift Savings Plan accounts while employees remain vulnerable to furloughs. Federal Times reports, currently employees are restricted to one general purpose loan and one residential loan against their TSP accounts at any given time. Changing those rules would be difficult.
  3. The size of the federal workforce would grow by 6,180 employees under President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. Government Executive reports, the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Veterans Affairs would account for the estimated 0.3 percent increase in full-time civilian employees in executive agencies between this year and next, according to the budget blueprint. The administration would add staff to boost medical care for veterans as well as hire employees to work on cybersecurity, background checks for guns, border protection and immigration reform.
  4. Furloughs have begun at the White House. The Office of Management and Budget says a majority of its career staff took yesterday off without pay. OMB plans to furlough employees for 10 days between now and October.
  5. Long delayed cybersecurity legislation has easily passed the House. Ninety-two Democrats joined most Republicans in voting for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. The bill would create a way for critical infrastructure companies to share cyber threat information with one another and with the government. CISPA has strong industry support. But there's no similar bill in the Senate. Privacy advocates oppose it. And the White House threatened to veto it. CISPA was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Mich.), both of the House Intelligence Committee.
  6. Long delayed cybersecurity legislation has easily passed the House. Ninety-two Democrats joined most Republicans in voting for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. The bill would create a way for critical infrastructure companies to share cyber threat information with one another and with the government. CISPA has strong industry support. But there's no similar bill in the Senate. Privacy advocates oppose it. And the White House threatened to veto it. CISPA was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Mich.), both of the House Intelligence Committee.
  7. And on GovLoop in case you missed the DorobekINSIDER Live panel discussion on citizen engagement - you can find the recap here.

DorobekINSIDER Watercooler Fodder:

  • WSJ, Dust Off Your Math Skills: Actuary Is Best Job of 2013 
  • The Atlantic Wire highlights: Michael Chertoff and Dallas Lawrence in The Wall Street Journal on social media helping a manhunt Social media and user generated sites — most centrally, Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter — not only documented the Boston bombings and subsequent search for the suspects; they organized, and even helped, much of the investigation itself, write former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Dallas Lawrence. "Moments after photos and video of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were posted to FBI.gov, the government's website nearly crashed from the crush of visitors. [The Boston Police Department] posted all of the official photos and video to social media to compensate for the lagging website and to encourage their online distribution," the pair observes. "Many people shared these posts online—with some posts re-tweeted 16,000 to 17,000 times. Each one of these 'shares' on social media increased the visibility of the pictures and video that were key to identifying and locating the suspects—and to letting the suspects know that their images were everywhere. That knowledge is likely what prompted the Tsarnaev brothers to bolt from hiding." An account this weekend in The Washington Post, suggested otherwise — that the FBI released the photos last Thursday "in part to limit the damage being done to people who were wrongly being targeted as suspects in the news media and on the Internet." Jack Shafer at Reuters offered his forgiveness, given the adrenaline of today's media. "No longer passive recipients of the news, [readers and viewers] talk back to the press as never before, putting additional pressure on the press corps to get it right and to untangle the news pretzel they've baked. And that’s wonderful."

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