If you’re looking for reference material on domestic sludge, gold nanoparticles, or peanut butter, a move by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to modernize its e-commerce portal should make it easier to get the information you’re seeking. […]

President Donald Trump last week issued an Executive Order on veterans’ health care that included an announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would adopt the same electronic records systems as the Department of Defense (DoD), signing off on what was already a done deal. Emphasis on “deal,” because although the departments are on board with a project that could cost $10 billion over 10 years, history raises doubts as to whether a unified health records system can actually be achieved.






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The MGT Act became the law of the land on Dec. 21, when President Trump signed it into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is the much-vaunted revolving capital fund–cut out of the original FITARA bill in committee–that establishes a central bucket of money at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), for Feds to modernize legacy IT systems.






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North Korea’s persistent efforts on nuclear weapons development and some loose talk about red buttons have raised new fears internationally about the possibilities of nuclear conflict. At home, government agencies also are addressing the questions about what to do in the case of a nuclear detonation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, will hold one of its Public Health Grand Round teaching sessions Jan. 16 on how medical professionals should respond–and although the event has been planned for months, it’s timing suddenly seems to be on the mark.






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Usually agencies want to speak highly of their IT operating systems, so to hear Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Steve Censky call the USDA operating model “splintered and out of date” on Dec. 14 was a bit of a shock.  






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Despite an air of uncertainty coming from the Trump administration, the Department of Energy’s research arm is forging ahead with what it calls “transformational research,” putting up $100 million to try to ensure that it doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to potentially disruptive energy research.






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Password manager company, Dashlane, has added a twist with its list of the “Worst Password Offenders” of 2017, naming high-profile people and organizations that fell into the bad-password trap. President Trump was deemed the worst offender, primarily because of simple passwords reportedly used by cabinet members and policy directors. Outside parties were also the culprits for the Department of Defense, specifically for its contractor, Booz Allen, as well as the Republican Party (stemming from a careless data analytics firm). Paul Manafort, for using “Bond007” as a password, and Sean Spicer, for apparently tweeting his passwords, also came in for scorn.






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Email is a core network application for both the private sector the and government, and has become an essential business communication tool. Since email is nearly ubiquitous and often poorly secured, it also has become a vector for fraud and data theft. Phishing emails can compromise not only Federal networks and databases, but also trust in government communications.






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Last July, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) revamped the provisional authorization process to make life easier for cloud service providers (CSPs). The change let CSPs use a simple web form to delineate their business cases to FedRAMP’s Joint Authorization Board (JAB).






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In a report released on Dec. 7, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that while Veterans Affairs (VA) has made some progress on key IT initiatives under Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) requirements, it has nonetheless fallen short of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) targets regarding consolidating and optimizing its data centers.






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