Washington Weekly – August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014

The House and Senate were in recess this week.

Sequestration

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its FY15 Sequestration Update Report to the President and Congress. The report provides an update on the status of the discretionary caps and on the compliance of pending discretionary appropriations legislation with those caps. The report finds that if the current discretionary caps remain unchanged, under OMB’s estimates Senate action to date for the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY15 would result in a sequestration of approximately $34 million in discretionary programs in the defense category. The report also finds that actions by the House of Representatives for both the defense and non-defense categories and actions by the Senate for the non-defense category are in compliance with the current FY15 spending limits, and that present House and Senate action on pending FY14 supplemental appropriations would not breach the current FY14 limits. Finally, the report also contains OMB’s Preview Estimate of the Disaster Relief Funding Adjustment for FY15.

A copy of the report can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/sequestration/sequestration_update_august2014.pdf

Defense

This week President Obama outlined five priorities the Administration is focused on to ensure that we are fulfilling our promises to service members, veterans, and their families: delivering the quality health care veterans have been promised; ensuring all veterans have every opportunity to pursue the American Dream; providing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the resources our veterans deserve; protecting the dignity and rights of all veterans; and eliminating the decades-old disability claims backlog. More specifically, Obama said that they are working to improve the transition between DoD and VA care for those leaving military service, and to provide military families with new private-sector commitments that will make it easier to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduced monthly payments as well as student debt relief.

The President also announced 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, including new efforts to strengthen service members’ access to mental health care. These executive actions can be found at:

http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/26-AUG-JOINT-FACT-SHEET-FINAL.pdf

Cybersecurity

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting information about the level of awareness of and initial experiences with its Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity throughout critical infrastructure organizations. The Framework, directed by Executive Order 13636 ‘‘Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity’’ and released on Feb 12, 2014, consists of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks.

Responses to the RFI will inform NIST’s planning and decision-making about possible tools and resources to help organizations to use the Framework more effectively and efficiently. They will also help inform future versions of the Framework. The responses will also inform the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C3 Voluntary Program. In addition, NIST is interested in receiving comments related to the Roadmap that accompanied publication of the Framework. All information provided will also assist in developing the agenda for a workshop on the Framework being planned for October 29-30, 2014.

The RFI poses nine questions on the current level of industry awareness of the framework among companies as well as regulators, and on the challenges to raising awareness. It asks 10 detailed questions on experiences so far with using the framework and three questions on NIST’s roadmap for further development.

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on October 10, 2014.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-26/pdf/2014-20315.pdf

Homeland Security

Senate Hearing on Militarization of Local Police Departments

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will hold a hearing on the militarization of local police departments on Sept. 9 at 10:30 am. The hearing, “Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement,” is being held in response to events in Ferguson, MO and will be co-chaired by HSGAC Chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chairwoman of the HSGAC Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight.

DHS Science and Technology Request for Comments

DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Under Secretary, Dr. Reginald Brothers, posted a blog this week seeking input on S&T’s visionary goals, which are:

  1. Screening at Speed: Matching the Pace of Life
  2. A Trusted Cyber Future: Protecting Privacy, Commerce, and Community
  3. Enable the Decision Maker: Providing Actionable Information Ahead of Incident Speed
  4. Responder of the Future: Protected, Connected, and Fully Aware

These goals are based on the policies and priorities in the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

Under Secretary Brothers posed these questions in his blog, “Based on what we know of today’s homeland security environment, what do you think the future will look like in 20 to 30 years? What should S&T plan to tackle now to ensure the nation is more resilient and secure in the future?” Brothers asked commenters to:

  • Provide insights into each of the proposed visionary goals.
  • Add new visionary goals for consideration.
  • Share ideas and perspectives and comment on others’ ideas.

All comments provided during this comment period will be reviewed by the working group and incorporated, where possible, into the final S&T Visionary Goals – to be released in early Fall.

The S&T Collaboration Community site will be open for comment through Sept. 7, 2014.

Political Updates

US Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park announced this week that he is stepping down from the job by the end of the year. Park was the second CTO in history following Aneesh Chopra in March 2012. Park is not leaving the administration, but instead plans on focusing on recruiting top tech talent for the federal government from Silicon Valley, a source familiar with the matter told FCW. While Megan Smith, most recently the vice president of the Google X lab, is said to be a top contender for Park’s job, both Google and the White House have so far refused comment.

Tennessee state Sen. Jim Tracy decided this week not to contest the results of the Aug. 7 Republican primary in the state’s 4th District. Tracy had challenged Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) in the primary losing by just 38 votes. DesJarlais will be the clear favorite in the general election as Mitt Romney carried the district with 65% of the vote in 2012.

The President nominated Russell Deyo to be Under Secretary for Management at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Sarah Saldaña to be Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at DHS. Deyo retired from Johnson & Johnson in 2012 after 27 years of service during which he held a number of positions, including Vice President, General Counsel, and as a member of the Executive Committee. Saldaña is the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, a position she has held since 2011. She also serves as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Previously, she was the Deputy Criminal Chief for the Fraud and Public Corruption section of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8.

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