Weekly News Kickoff: City Survives Snowzilla 2016 - (Archived)

It looks like Washington, D.C., has survived Snowzilla 2016. Phew. Did you enjoy the snow as much as Tian Tian? Or did you spend the weekend digging out your cars? Well, just because it’s finally really winter and the federal government is closed today doesn’t mean things have slowed down too much. Welcome to the weekly news kickoff. Enjoy these highlights.

IT Crucial to Smooth 2017 Presidential Transition
Digital technology and IT will play a key role in safeguarding information and speeding the pace of adjustment when a new administration enters the White House a year from now, according to former White House officials and other presidential transition experts. Prior presidential transition teams relied on more paper-based and fewer computerized methods of communicating and coordinating a change in office, which often left a president’s first 100 days ineffective and inefficient, said panelists at a Partnership for Public Service discussion on the upcoming transition. In some cases, old transition methods put the nation at risk, the panelists added. With technology advancements and creation of the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 — under which the General Services Administration is tasked with helping to ensure a smooth transition — things may be different next time, FedScoop reports.

Sunset on US-EU Safe Harbor Data Agreement Fast Approaching
The deadline for the United States and European Union to reach a new “safe harbor” agreement on data transfers between the two jurisdictions is fast approaching, FierceGovernmentIT reports. In October, the European Court of Justice declared the 15-year-old safe harbor framework invalid due to concerns that U.S. companies could not protect the privacy of Europeans’ data from U.S. government surveillance. Companies had used the framework to lawfully transfer Europeans’ data to the U.S. That ruling set a Jan. 31 deadline for a new agreement, but Reuters reported that a decision on whether and how U.S.-EU data transfers can continue won’t be discussed until European data protection authorities meet in Brussels on Feb. 2.

When The Boss Is Your Biggest Security Risk
No one possesses more sensitive information in an organization than upper management, a commentary in Dark Reading reports. So why do companies screen executives on the way in but not on the way out? Early last year, Chesapeake Energy filed a lawsuit contending that its former CEO took confidential data, including maps of potential oil- and gas-drilling sites, and used the information to start a competitive company. Ride-sharing company Lyft filed a complaint in San Francisco Superior Court in late 2014 accusing its former COO of stealing confidential product plans and financial information as he exited the company to join rival Uber. While these accusations play out, it’s a good time to take a look at C-level departures and the need to protect the company they are leaving. It’s well documented that intellectual property (IP) theft occurs at an alarming rate when employees leave a company. Recent events underscore that IP theft can take place at the highest levels, where access to the most confidential and sensitive information is typically unfettered.

Rogers: Cyber Doesn’t Need Its Own Military Branch
In a sign of the growing importance of the cyber domain, some in Congress have raised the possibility of making the U.S. Cyber Command and its subcommands in each of the military services into a separate military branch, Defense Systems reports. But Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the Cyber command and the National Security Agency, doesn’t think that’s the best course, pointing out that cyber operations have become so ingrained in the operations of all the military services. “Cyber doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” Rogers said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council on Jan. 21. Rather, he said, he is interested in how cyber relates to and can be applied to other domains. “Cyber exists in a broader context,” Rogers said. Rogers’ comments followed suggestions from Congress that cyberspace, which is designated as a domain of warfare, should have its own service branch.

NASA Allowed 150 ‘Alien Scientists’ and More OPM Hiring Exemptions
The Office of Personnel Management granted NASA permission to expedite the hiring of up to 150 foreign-born scientists among the thousands of exemptions included in the latest consolidated listing of federal hiring exceptions, Federal Times reports. The federal hiring process is long and arduous and every agency has certain positions that must be filled. To ensure that agencies can meet their missions, OPM allows managers to fill select positions for temporary or limited terms without having to go through the full competitive process. Five agencies were granted special hiring authority for IT and cybersecurity positions, including: Office of Management and Budget, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration.

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