Weekly News Roundup

WEEKLY NEWS ROUNDUP | 7/21/17

Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice Leadership:

John Kelly, Thomas Bossert, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), and others Head to the Aspen Security Forum

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism at Facebook Monika Bickert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert, Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), and former CIA Director John Brennan, are among the more than 70 speakers to join the 2017 Aspen Security Forum, which runs from July 19-22. At this pivotal juncture in US and global politics — a new presidential administration, rising terrorism, crumbling order in the Middle East, the rapid rise of cyber threats, and more – the experts and decision-makers at the center of national and international security will engage in candid conversations on the most pressing issues of the day. For more coming out of the Forum please read:

 

Soraya Correa on Future DHS Needs

The Bridge | Patrick Garrettson | 7/17/17

In the following episode of the Bridge Greg Simon, the Director of the Biden Cancer Initiative at Biden Foundation, interviews DHS’s  Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa, discussing the future trends and requirements for DHS.

 

ICE Chief Praises Trump, Plans To Send More Agents To Sanctuary Cities

The Hill | Josh Delk | 7/18/17

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan on Tuesday said he plans to further crack down on undocumented immigrants by sending more resources and agents to sanctuary cities. Homan told Washington Examiner on Tuesday that he plans to address “ludicrous” sanctuary cities. “In the America I grew up in, cities didn’t shield people who violated the law,” Homan told the publication. “What I want to get is a clear understanding from everybody, from the congressmen to the politicians to law enforcement to those who enter the country illegally, that ICE is open for business.”

 

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves FBI Director Nomination

Politico | Seung Min Kim | 7/17/17  

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of President Donald Trump’s choice to head the FBI. Christopher Wray’s nomination will now move to the Senate floor. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa praised Wray, who promised at his hearing last week to never let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission. Wray would replace James Comey, who was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump in May amid the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump’s campaign. For more on Chris Wray please read:

 

Department of Homeland Security Management and Mission:

USCIS Seeks Agile Innovation With DevSecOps: Opportunity Focus

Bloomberg | Katrice Eborn | 7/19/17

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is prepping two solicitations for Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) services — with the first laying the foundation for the advanced programs requested in the second. DevSecOps, the combination of DevOps and information security, is an agile approach to delivering secure software applications quickly. In the first solicitation, the USCIS Office of Information Technology is looking for a vendor to build and enhance systems in the cloud. Click here to download the request for information. The second solicitation builds on that foundation, seeking “deep data science, big data, analytics” and “machine learning services” along with artificial intelligence. Click here to download the request for information. Responses to both RFIs are due Wednesday, July 26, at noon. Both ask interested vendors for specific details of their past experience performing such requirements.

 

DHS to Release $3 Billion TacCom II RFP by End of Month: Top 20

Bloomberg | Daniel Snyder | 7/14/17

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to release a final request for proposals for the multiple-award contract known as TacCom II by July 28, according to an announcement released July 7. TacCom II, a recompete of the Tactical Communications department-wide contract, is the focus of this week’s update to Bloomberg Government’s Top 20 Opportunities. DHS will continue to use the vehicle for buying tactical communications equipment, including mobile radios, accessories and repeaters, as well as for operations, maintenance, and installation services. The agency released a second draft request for proposal on July 7. Final awards are scheduled for November 2017.

 

Coast Guard Chief: ‘We Need To Be Funded Like A Military Service’

Federal News Radio | Jory Heckman | 7/201/7

While the House recently passed its $696 billion version of the 2018 defense spending bill, one branch of the armed services — the U.S. Coast Guard — won’t receive a windfall in defense spending. Instead, the Coast Guard is lucky to have avoided a $1.3 billion, or 14 percent, cut in its fiscal 2018 budget that President Donald Trump’s proposed in his “skinny” budget in March. Since then, the Trump administration has proposed a Coast Guard budget that “sustains current funding levels.” The Coast Guard operates under the Homeland Security Department, and carries out law enforcement and intelligence-gathering missions, but Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said the service is still a branch of the armed services, and should be funded as such.

 

U.S. Ends Laptop Ban On Flights From Middle East

NPR | Laurel Wamsley | 7/20/17

The United States has ended the ban on large electronics in the cabins of airlines that it announced in March. King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the last airport to be taken off the Department of Homeland Security’s ban list, which originally affected 10 airports and nine airlines, mostly Middle Eastern carriers. DHS spokesman David Lapan tweeted Wednesday evening that the restrictions on large electronics had been lifted. “With enhanced security measures in place, all restrictions on large PEDs announced in March for 10 airports/9 airlines have been lifted,” he wrote.

 

DHS Announces Boost In Seasonal Worker Visas During W.H. ‘Made In America’ Week

CNN |Tal Kopan and Eli Watkins | 7/17/17

Businesses will soon be able to apply to bring in up to 15,000 more foreigners for seasonal work, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday — prompting questions about whether the move fit in with the White House’s “America First” posture. The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement came as the White House kicked off its “Made in America” week, during which the administration is highlighting its efforts to increase domestic employment and investment. The number of additional H-2B visas, which are for temporary non-agricultural workers, is well below the more than 60,000 of this type that Congress has allowed DHS to authorize along with the Department of Labor.

 

DHS: President ‘Not Involved’ In Wall Selection Process

CNN | Tal Kopan |7/18/17

President Donald Trump may have a vision of what his border wall should look like, but he’s not involved in the process to make those decisions, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Despite Trump’s recent comments on how the wall will take shape, including references to it including solar panels and transparency, Customs and Border Protection is handling the process to choose prototypes to be built and have not briefed Trump on the options, the department said Tuesday. We have not involved the President in the procurement process,” DHS spokesman David Lapan said in a briefing with reporters. For more on the wall please see:

 

The Homeland Security Hiring Surge Trump and Republicans Aren’t Supporting

Government Executive | Eric Katz | 7/18/17

The Trump administration has prioritized hiring at the Homeland Security Department, but at one DHS component administration officials and Republican lawmakers are looking to roll back the ambitious goals previously laid out by President Obama. The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday was expected to approve a DHS spending bill that would provide $100 million for the Border Patrol to hire 500 new agents and $186.5 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to boost its ranks by 1,000 officers next year. Trump prioritized staff augmentation at both agencies in early executive orders and in his fiscal 2018 budget proposal. The spending bill did not, however, propose any hiring surge for Customs and Border Protection officers staffing ports of entry.

 

Travelers Coming Into America Are Now Seeing Beefed-Up Security

Nextgov | Hanna Kozlowska | 7/20/17

Airlines are starting to implement additional security measures for international flights to the US, potentially meaning even more hassle for travelers. The security measures apply to roughly 280 airports in 105 countries and do not affect domestic flights, a spokesperson for DHS told Quartz. The airlines covered by the new regulations announced last month by DHS secretary John Kelly were given time to implement them. Starting today (July 19), travelers coming in from Mexico, Canada, and Colombia should expect to see the effects. Airlines—a total of 180 will eventually be affected in total—are advising US-bound passengers to arrive earlier to the airport. The measures include enhanced overall security checks and heightened screening for passengers’ electronic devices. More dog teams will be deployed, and explosive-trace detection will be expanded. An average of 2,100 flights daily and 325,000 passengers will be affected.

 

Riding With ICE: ‘We’re Trying To Do The Right Thing’

NPR | John Burnett | 7/20/17

Under President Obama, Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not have bothered with either of these immigrants. During the previous administration, ICE agents primarily targeted more serious felons and recent arrivals. Under President Trump, ICE agents are told to arrest anyone in the country illegally. Since Trump’s executive order in January, calling for more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, ICE arrests have skyrocketed and the agency plans to hire more agents. NPR reporter John Burnett takes in inside look at how these policy changes are effecting moral within the ICE community.

 

The Secret Service Calls for Backup on Its Other Job

Bloomberg | Nicholas Fandos | 7/20/17

The classrooms, tucked above a municipal court here in the Birmingham suburbs, are a long way from the White House. But walk through a set of secured doors and into the futuristic-looking work space, and you will find an important wager by the agency best known for protecting presidents, the Secret Service. Only it has almost nothing to do with earpiece-wearing agents or armored cars. Though the Secret Service may be better known for keeping government executives safe, it also has a mandate to investigate and fight financial and other cybercrimes. And in an era of overworked protection details and nonstop cybercrime, it could use some help.

 

Department of Justice Management and Mission:

Justice Department Restoring Asset Seizures, With Safeguards

Federal Times | Sadie Gurman | 7/19/17

The Trump administration will soon restore the ability of police to seize suspects’ money and property with federal help, but The Associated Press has learned the policy will come with a series of new provisions aimed at preventing the types of abuse that led the Obama Justice Department to severely curtail the practice.  At issue is asset forfeiture, which has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions without criminal convictions or, in some cases, indictments. The policy to be rolled out Wednesday targets so-called adoptive forfeiture, which lets local authorities circumvent more-restrictive state laws to seize property under federal law. The proceeds are then shared with federal counterparts.

 

DOJ Announces Takedown of Dark Web Market AlphaBay

CNN | Tal Kopan | 7/20/17

The Department of Justice and its international partners announced Thursday a takedown of a massive Dark Web marketplace that was allegedly one of the world’s biggest sources for the sale of drugs and illicit materials, striking a blow to the cybercriminal underground. In shutting down AlphaBay and arresting its alleged founder, Alexandre Cazes, the Justice Department also is going after the assets of Cazes, who is charged with running the sophisticated anonymous market and was worth upwards of $23 million, according to court documents. Cazes apparently took his life on July 12 while in custody in Thailand after authorities arrested him there a week prior, the DOJ said.

 

Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration.

U.S. Digital Service Shares First Priorities Under Trump

Nextgov | Mohana Ravindranath | 7/18/17

The U.S. Digital Service, a task force of professionals recruited from the private sector, was established to tackle some of the federal government’s highest profile and highest risk technology challenges. In USDS’ annual report to Congress, Acting Administrator Matt Cutts—the Google transplant responsible for Gmail’s spam filter—outlined the team’s current priorities, many of which were established under Obama. The team reports to the Office of Management and Budget’s acting deputy director and is now part of the American Technology Council, a convocation of prominent business leaders that Trump taps for advice on federal problems. USDS also works with the White House Office of American Innovation, a new team led by Jared Kushner aiming to modernize government technology, according to Cutts. USDS is still collaborating with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to digitize the immigration paperwork processing system, the report said.

 

Trump Appoints Strategic Lead For GSA

Federal News Radio | Rachael Kalinyak | 7/18/17

President Trump has appointed Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati for the important position of associate administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy. This General Services Administration position is responsible for providing strategic guidance on policymaking issues, travel and transportation, information technology and the use of federal advisory committees.  Previously, Brigati served as the general counsel and director of strategic initiatives for the National Academy of Public Administration, where she provided counsel to the senior leadership team on various policy and legal matters. Before that, she was in various positions with the World Bank.

 

GSA’s Impending EIS contract A ‘Race To The Beginning’ For Federal Telecommunications

Federal News Radio | Meredith Somers | 7/14/17

The General Services Administration is weeks away from announcing its Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions telecommunications contract — an award that’s both a milestone for the program and start of a “race to the beginning.” Speaking at a July 13 FedInsider event in Washington, D.C., GSA’s Bill Zielinski, deputy assistant commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service’s IT category management, said his agency was “very, very close to award.”

 

18F Is Looking For Crowdsourced Penetration Testing Systems To Hit Login.Gov

FedScoop | Tajha Chappellet-Lanier | 7/19/17

The General Services Administration’s 18F digital team is making strides in developing the open-source login.gov, a single sign-on for government services, and is now looking to do some penetration testing. GSA released a sources sought notice late last week in an attempt to “identify potential crowd sourced penetration testing providers who can support 18F’s login.gov product.” “The system is expected to be widely targeted by attackers,” the statement of work document explains. “GSA requires Crowdsourced Security and Penetration Testing service that mimics attacks and detects the security flaws that real-world hackers use to breach the Login.gov platform.”

 

White House:

Trump Administration Backs House Proposal For Amazon-Style Government ‘Marketplaces’

Federal News Radio | Jared Serbu | 7/18/17

The Trump administration is throwing its weight behind a congressional proposal that would largely bypass the government’s existing mechanisms for buying commercial goods, giving a full-throated endorsement to the idea of Amazon-like “marketplaces” for federal purchasing. The General Services Administration has worked closely with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on his proposal to require the government to create new business deals with at least two companies that already run commercial e-commerce platforms, said Alan Thomas, the newly-appointed commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

 

Legislative Branch:

DHS Authorization Could Give Acquisition A Boost

FCW | Mark Rockwell | 7/19/17

A House bill that would officially authorize the Department of Homeland Security is set for a floor vote on July 20, according to Ryan Consaul, staff director of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee. Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Texas), introduced the DHS Authorization Act of 2017 on June 8, in hopes of helping the agency navigate complex oversight from Capitol Hill. In a June mark-up session, McCaul said the bill would streamline offices with overlapping duties, cut unnecessary positions and better outline respective responsibilities within the agency. If the bill passes the full House, companion legislation in the Senate sponsored by Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) could give the effort more support. “I’m confident” the Senate effort will be successful, Consaul said at a July 19 Bloomberg Government panel on program management and acquisition. For more please read:

 

Lawmaker Pushes DHS To Adopt Secure Email Authentication Protocol

FedScoop | Billy Mitchell | 7/19/17

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants the federal government to adopt a protocol that would defend and protect government offices from email spoofing and phishing attempts. Wyden sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security acting Deputy Undersecretary of Cybersecurity Jeanette Manfra urging for the adoption of Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, widely known as DMARC, a technical standard finalized in 2015 by contributors including Google, Yahoo, Mail.ru, JPMorganChase and Symantec.

 

House Panel Signs Off On $1.8B For DHS Cyber Office

The Hill | Morgan Chalfant | 7/18/17

House lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a spending measure that would provide roughly $1.8 billion in funding for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cyber unit. The bill would allocate the money for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), the DHS office tasked with securing critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2018 funding measure for the DHS by a vote of 30-22 during a markup on Tuesday. The allocation for NPPD is similar to fiscal 2017 spending levels and on par with the Trump administration’s request for $1.8 billion in discretionary funding for the office.

 

Survey: Government Workers Have A Confidence Problem—At Least When It Comes To I.T.

Nextgov | Mohana Ravindranath |7/19/17

As a whole, the people who work for the government aren’t convinced that they—or their organizations—can handle major IT operations, a survey found. In a poll of more than 1,200 public-sector employees and government contractors nationwide, 62 percent were only as confident, or less confident, than they were last year that they can fulfill responsibilities such as moving to the cloud. The respondents, more than 50 percent of whom worked for or with the federal government, complained about a “lack of visibility into these IT systems … the ability to know when a system is going to break down and when a system does break down.”

 

House Dems Say Voter Data Request Poses Serious Cybersecurity Concerns

FCW | Mark Rockwell | 7/18/17

Ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Homeland Security and House Administration, told Vice President Mike Pence in a July 18 letter that they want Kris Kobach to resign his position as vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and for Pence to void Kobach’s request for states to submit sensitive voter information. Kobach, who is also Kansas’ secretary of state, in late June asked election officials in all 50 states to submit publicly available voter roll information to the commission, including voters’ full first, last and middle names; dates of birth; political party affiliations; last four digits of Social Security numbers; voting history dating back to 2006; and  a variety of other personal information.

 

Miscellaneous:

Sam Skolnik: What Agency Vacancies Mean For Contractors

Federal News Radio | Tom Temin | 7/19/17

The Trump administration got off to a slow start in nominating people to important jobs. Now President Donald Trump is picking up the pace of nominations, only to have the Senate take its sweet time to confirm them. The lingering policy vacancies leave career employees wondering and now the holes are starting to worry contractors. Sam Skolnik, Bloomberg BNA senior reporter, offers insight on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

 

Improving Federal Program Management Is Hot Summer Topic in D.C.

Bloomberg  | Samantha J. Stein and Cameron Leuthy | 7/20/17

These are dynamic times for federal program managers, who face both budget pressures and challenges from the White House and Congress to improve the way the government buys goods and services. The enactment of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act in 2015 and the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act last year, and guidance from the executive branch have combined to drive changes that will affect contractors as well as the federal government. The July 19 program management event held by Bloomberg Government and the Project Management Institute included BGOV analysts, PMI representatives, and panelists from both government and industry.

 

Monthly Review – Academic Journals/Think Tanks:

The Cold War on Terrorism: Reevaluating Critical Infrastructure Facilities as Targets for Terrorist AttacksHomeland Security Affairs | David Riedman | 6/17

Unpacking and Exploring the Relationship between Crisis Management and Social Media in the Era of ‘Smart Devices’Homeland Security Affairs | Eric K. Stern | 6/17

Big Data: A Twenty-First Century Arms RaceThe Atlantic Council | 6/17

The Tech of Homeland Security – Nextgov | Mohana Ravindranath And Joseph Marks | 7/17  

 

Upcoming Homeland Security Events:

U.S. Coast Guard: Priorities for the Future

CSIS | August 1, 2017 10:00 am – 11:00 am | CSIS Headquarters

Airport 2017 – Information Technology, Security & Crisis Management

International Airport Review | September 12-13 2017 | Vienna, Austria

Airport Security Forum 2017

Prospero Events Group | September 12, 2017 – September 13, 2017 | Vienna, Austria

Washington DC Cyber Week

Cyber Scoop | October 16-20 2017 | Washington, D.C.

Cyber Talks

Cyber Scoop | October 18, 2017 | Andrew Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC

Aviation Cyber Security Conference

Cyber Senate and US ISAC | November 21/22 | London, UK

Silicon Valley Innovation Program Funding Opportunities

DHS S&T | 7/17

The S&T SVIP will be conducting individual calls describing specific technical areas and issuing use cases. The calls include:

 

GAO Reports of Interest: 

Aviation Security: TSA Does Not Have Valid Evidence Supporting Most of the Revised Behavioral Indicators Used in Its Behavior Detection Activities

Publicly Released: July 20, 2017.

Supply Chain Security: CBP Needs to Enforce Compliance and Assess the Effectiveness of the Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements

Publicly Released: July 20, 2017.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Handling of Employee Misconduct Allegations

Publicly Released: July 18, 2017.

 

Upcoming Congressional Committee Hearings of Interest:

Hearing: “Deter, Detect and Interdict: Technology’s Role in Securing the Border.”

Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 (10:00 AM) | HVC-210 Capitol Washington, D.C.

Securing Air Cargo: Industry Perspectives

Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee

July 25, 2017 2:00 PM | House Capitol Visitor Center (HVC) Room 210