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Interior CIO steps down

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Sylvia Burns took over the reins Monday as Interior Department’s acting chief information officer, following Bernie Mazer’s decision to step down as CIO and retire this summer.

Mazer’s last day as CIO was March 28, but “the department has asked Bernie to stay on for several months to assist in the selection of a successor, in addition to advising on several time-sensitive and high priority projects,” Andrew Jackson, Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for technology, information and business services, said in an email to employees. The department could not confirm Mazer’s new title.

Federal News Radio first reported Mazer’s departure and said  he will be retiring in July. Burns will serve as acting CIO until a permanent replacement is chosen.

In his email, Jackson highlighted several of Mazer’s accomplishments:

- Spearheaded DOI’s successful migration of widely-dispersed employees from 14 different legacy email systems to Google Apps for Government.

- Led the vision, development, and release of the $10 billion, 10-year DOI Foundation Cloud Hosting Services (FCHS) contract.

- Guided the implementation of DOI’s cloud-based Email Enterprise Records & Document Management System (eERDMS), enabling efficient big data management of documents and records. It’s the largest records and information management program in the federal government.

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HP, Oracle among companies in FedRAMP pipeline

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Century Link, HP and CA Technologies are among the companies with cloud solutions awaiting final approval under a governmentwide security program.
Specifically, these companies are working to obtain a  Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authorization for a specific cloud offering. That’s basically a seal of approval from an interagency board of chief information officers at the General Services Administration, Homeland Security and Defense departments, acknowledging that companies have met minimum federal standards for securing cloud solutions.
See a complete list of companies awaiting JAB approval here.
As required by the Federal Risk and Authorization program (FedRAMP), the cloud vendors first hired an independent assessment organization to review and validate that they implemented the security standards.
GSA is working with IT networking group Meritalk to make the FedRAMP process more transparent by providing data on the companies awaiting approval and the performance of independent assessment organizations.

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Services told to budget for JIE initiative

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The military services have been directed to include funding for the Joint Information Environment in their 2015 budgets, according to a Pentagon official.

Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai said she is working with DoD acquisition officials to figure out how JIE funding should be characterized in the services’ budgets, and how to manage JIE implementation plans and ensure future programs align with JIE engineering specifications, the American Forces Press Service reported earlier this month.

DoD would not provide more details on the budget guidance issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “The direction by the Secretary of Defense was given in the department’s formal guidance, which remains classified,” DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said in a statement.

JIE is a massive restructuring of DoD information technology, which will include consolidating and standardizing disparate networks and systems and providing more enterprise IT services. Read more here.

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NASA extends deadline for SEWP contract — again

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NASA has once again extended the deadline for bids on its $20 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract, the agency announced Friday.

The due date for bid proposals has been extended several times and is now set for Dec. 10, according to a notice on fbo.gov. The 16-day government shutdown in October played a role in earlier delays, the agency said.

In a Q&A document also released Friday, one vendor requested an extension to the due date following amendments to the RFP earlier this month. NASA is giving vendors an additional week from its most recent  Dec. 3 deadline.

The SEWP V contract will provide agencies with desktops, laptops, servers and other information technology equipment.

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DoD launches mobile device management training

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The Defense Department is rolling out training for end users and systems administrators on how to operate its new mobile-device management software.

Enterprise mobile security firm PaRaBaL is designing, building and delivering the training for all of DoD, said CEO Peter Coddington. “On this contract, our task is to make sure that all the DISA or DoD employees that will use the solution are fully versed and trained,” he said.

The small-business firm is a subcontractor to Bethesda, Md., technology company DMI, which was awarded a potential $16 million, three-year contract in June for mobile application store services and an MDM solution to centrally manage DoD smartphones and tablet computers.

Coddington couldn’t say how many users have been or will be trained other than noting, “we are well along in the process.” A performance work statement on fbo.gov, said the MDM software will be designed to support at least 162,500 devices, with the potential of 262,500 mobile devices by the end of the contract.

For DoD components that use DISA’s mobile services, users will learn how to activate the management solution on their devices and how to safely operate devices according to security guidelines, said Coddington, who declined to provide further details on the contract. Systems administrators will learn how to use the MDM solution.

The four-year-old company is also working with one of the military services to test software code used for developing mobile apps.

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NASA sets due date for $20B IT contract

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NASA has extended the deadline for bids on its $20 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract, following last month’s government shutdown.

The agency has extended the due date to Nov. 15, according to an online notice. Originally, companies had until Oct. 14 to bid.

NASA said the 16-day shutdown delayed its response to industry’s questions as well as changes to the solicitation.

The contract will provide agencies with desktops, laptops, servers and other information technology equipment.

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NIST cancels conference as shutdown looms

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At least one federal conference is being postponed this week because of a potential government shutdown.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is postponing its Cloud Computing and Mobility Forum this week “because we could not guarantee NIST’s facility would be open on the first day of the meeting, Oct. 1,” according to an agency spokeswoman. “The meeting has not been rescheduled.”

More than 500 people had registered for the conference, including about 130 federal employees. Many federal employees would be forced to stay home without pay if Congress doesn’t strike a budget deal by midnight.

Just at DoD, some 400,000 employees — or about half of the civilian workforce — will be sent home on unpaid furloughs if a partial shutdown begins Tuesday, Comptroller Robert Hale said late last week. During a Sept. 27 news briefing, Hale said a shutdown would halt travel and training plans for activities not deemed excepted.

“As of today, no other conferences have been postponed,” according to NIST. “Some scheduled conferences could be affected by a shutdown, depending on the duration of the shutdown and how much lead time each conference requires.”

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IBM to integrate Air Force pay, personnel systems

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The Air Force on Monday awarded IBM an $11.8 million contract to integrate its military personnel and pay processes into one system.

As part of the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System Program (AF-IPPS), IBM will design “an enterprise resource planning-based solution to meet all personnel and pay requirements,” according to a Defense Department announcement. Work is expected to be completed by December 2014.

The new personnel and pay system will replace the Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS) and the Defense Joint Military Pay System (DJMS) for the Air Force, according to a December 2012 Mitre report. The new system will play a key role in helping the Air Force meet its audit goals.

The system will serve about 507,000 service members and “thousands of military leaders of different ranks, specialties, and career fields,” according to the administration’s IT Dashboard, which tracks the status of large technology projects. The Air Force expects the system will reduce annual payroll errors by 75 percent, and allow airmen to be compensated in a timely manner at least 98.5 percent of the time.

The Mitre report also notes the new system will have a self-service capability for airmen to update personal information and access their pay records anytime. However, the system is expected to have more than 100 user interfaces and connections to external systems, which could create technical, cost and schedule challenges, the report said.

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How hackers infiltrated federal agency

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In addition to the standard two forms of identification, offer letter and contact information, new hires at the U.S. Department of Education are required to bring along a certificate of completion for cybersecurity training course.

A recent internal investigation shows why that training is probably a pretty good idea.

In a previously undisclosed probe into a 2011 “spear phishing” campaign, hackers targeted senior staff and managed to break through the department’s security protections to steal data from the department.

Much about the incident, which was described in documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request by Federal Times, remains classified, including how much data and what sort of information hackers took.

One of the hackers used an email address — arne.duncan[at]ymail.com – to infiltrate the department’s security protections.

You can read for yourself the summary of the investigation by the technology crimes division of the department’s Inspector General, which passed along its findings to the FBI. That memo can be found here.

Federal Times recently reported on the incident, but the Education Department declined to comment. Still, there’s a lesson in all of this. Even if the name on an email address seems familiar, government employees ought to make sure the sender’s address is legitimate.

And call the IT department if you’re unsure.

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Video: Booz Allen VP McConnell on Edward Snowden

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Nearing the end of a half hour talk on cybersecurity at a conference of contracting professionals in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Mike McConnell had not uttered the name Edward Snowden.

And Snowden, after all, is someone who has people talking a lot about cybersecurity these days.

The now famous former Booz Allen employee stands charged with espionage and is still on the run from U.S. authorities after leaking details to the media on once secret government surveillance programs.

As McConnell, a former director of national intelligence, was wrapping up his presentation, he said he’d take a question or two. That’s when an audience member brought up Snowden.

While brief in his response, McConnell went beyond the carefully worded statement that Booz Allen’s public relations staff had issued in the days after Snowden’s leaks became public.

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