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FCW Insider: March 6

At a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing and a televised press conference, administration officials faced questions on whether the President of the United States is unhelpfully downplaying the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. Lia Russell takes a look at the disconnect between Trump and top officials on COVID-19

Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration had to decide in recent days whether to hold upcoming conferences in light of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Mark Rockwell has more.

Leaders at the Department of Veterans Affairs are optimistic on hitting a revised July go-live date for their $16 billion electronic health record upgrade, but lawmakers and watchdogs remain concerned that needed infrastructure upgrades are lagging behind the deployment schedule. Adam Mazmanian has the story.

Cyber Command chief Gen. Paul Nakasone is prepping force assessment to justify a coming request for additional personnel. The organization's election security role and other activities are expanding as cybersecurity threats evolve. Lauren C. Williams explains.

Quick Hits

*** A Government Accountability Office report issued March 5 found that a revised guidance that narrowed the definition of data centers covered under the governmentwide Data Center Optimization Initiative had the effect of eliminating required cybersecurity reports on more than 2000 government facilities.

*** A group of Capitol region House Democrats reintroduced a bill to support telework on March 5. The Telework Metrics and Cost Savings Act would ban across-the-board agency cuts to telework and require congressional notification for the rollback of telework programs. The bill also tasks agencies with setting annual goals for telework participation.

"In the face of the coronavirus threat, federal agencies are expected to have a robust continuity of operations plan ready for immediate activation should the outbreak threaten to interrupt essential government services. Telework is an essential tool for that response," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

*** The House of Representatives passed a bill to put Transportation Security Administration workers under Title 5 when it comes to pay and employee rights, eliminating the homegrown human resources system created for TSA when it launched as an agency. The bill is not likely to move in the Senate, because of Republican opposition.

*** A bipartisan group of senators led by Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill pitched at combating online child sexual exploitation which withholds certain liability protections to online platforms that have not certified compliance with a new set of best practices covering the discovery and disclosure of child sexual abuse material. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act) was denounced by privacy hawks and civil liberties groups as an assault on encryption and free expression.

"This terrible legislation is a Trojan horse to give Attorney General [William] Barr and Donald Trump the power to control online speech and require government access to every aspect of Americans' lives," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement.

Posted on Mar 06, 2020 at 2:23 AM


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