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AFCEA DC DHA Panel Discussion

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​The DC Chapter of AFCEA held a moderated Defense Health Agency panel discussion on April 26, 2016 focusing on innovative solutions for the military health system. 
 
The panelists were:

  • James Craft, Chief Information Officer, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Department of Defense
  • Steven Hernandez, Chief Information Security Officer, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Rose-Marie Nsahlai, Lead IT Security Specialist, Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Joseph Lucky Ronzio, Deputy Chief Health Technology Officer, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs 

The main topics of discussion were in relation to Mobile Health Technology, Interoperability and Cybersecurity.   
 
The discussion surrounding Mobile Health Technology focused on empowering the consumer / patient to be more active and collaborative with their providers when making health and wellness choices, and on embracing sensors and telehealth / telemedicine as alternatives to physician office visits.  The Deputy CHTO of the VA, Dr. Ronzio, argued that both provide a better patient experience, while lowering costs for all parties.  Moving forward, more emphasis will be placed on devices and mobility for both the patient and the provider.  NSA, for example, is working on a "thin" encryption that is specifically for health and wellness devices, so the security layer is a lower overhead for the device.

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DHS
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Changes in Defense-Related M&A?

​The Pentagon has been keeping a concerned eye on Defense-related M&A activity since at least 2008, monitoring the U.S. industrial base to ensure that it maintained some level of diversity of suppliers.  The Department of Defense (DoD) has long been concerned with the small number of large firms able to bid on major weapon systems acquisition: four major contractors bid for the F-15, five for the F-16.  But the F-22 and F-35 programs attracted only two bidders each.  Last week, Pentagon leaders began to voice warnings to the industry: Secretary Carter told the press that “it [is] important to avoid excessive consolidation” and that he “[does not] welcome further consolidation among the very large prime contractors.”

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Federal Government Concludes “Cyber Sprint” Initiative

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DHS’ United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT),
developer of EINSEIN 3A intrusion detection and prevention system

In the aftermath of the OPM hack, which compromised the personal information of over 22 million people, and the subsequent resignation of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, the Federal Government undertook a 30 day long initiative to shore up its cybersecurity. Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tony Scott explained that federal-civilian agencies would increase their use of multistep verification, decrease the number of privileged users that have access to sensitive information, and patch known vulnerabilities (Boyd, 2015). After 30 days, all federal agencies will report their progress with respect to implementation of the added security features to OMB and DHS. Since the start of the sprint, CIO Scott announced federal agencies have increased their use of two factor verification by 20% overall with select agencies implementing 100% two factor verification for privileged users. With the assistance of DHS, federal agencies have patched more than 60% of known cyber vulnerabilities since May this year according to DHS Director Jeh Johnson. 

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Wearable Technology & Law Enforcement

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Motorola HC1 Headset Computer

Wearable technology, devices that are worn by users, is a rapidly expanding market which is set to exceed $32 billion by 2019 (IHS, 2014). Commercial wearable technology applications include biometric monitoring, camera and video functions, communication systems, and internet access. Many of these functions could be expanded upon to assist law enforcement by providing greater situational awareness to both officers and dispatchers. Furthermore, the use of body mounted cameras provides an additional means of ensuring accountability among law enforcement personnel, as per the Obama Administration initiative to field more than 50,000 police body cameras nationwide. 

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OPM Hack Demonstrates Need for Internal Defense of Government Networks     

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Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personal Management (OPM) is the victim of a highly intrusive cyber espionage operation conducted by “Deep Panda”, a state backed Chinese hacker group. The personal information of over 4 million current and former government employees dating back to 1985 has been compromised. Chinese hackers managed to circumvent the much vaunted EINSTEIN 3 cyber intrusion monitoring and blocking system (Sternstein, 2015). Once OPM’s network was penetrated, the hackers were easily able to access government records, as OPM’s personnel data was unencrypted (Perera, 2015). The breach was initially discovered by CyTech Services, which ran diagnostic software of OPM’s network in a sales demonstration in April of 2015.

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DOJ Announces New Guidelines for Domestic Law Enforcement Use of UAVs

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Draganflyer X6 small unmanned aerial system (sUAS)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a series of guidelines for the use of unmanned aerial system by domestic law enforcement and federal agencies. While the DOJ report is fully cognizant of the significant potential for UAS within law enforcement, the document states that all UAS use must conform to existing privacy and civil liberty protections: 

“UAS must be operated consistent with the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures and generally requires law enforcement to seek a warrant in circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, Department personnel may never use UAS solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” – DOJ, 2015 

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Trade Promotion Authority & the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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US trade with TPP negotiating partners. Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal

The United States Senate passed a bill over Memorial Day weekend which would grant the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. The TPA, or “fast track” authority, is critical to securing a final TPP free trade agreement with eleven other countries, as it effectively grants the President authority to negotiate on behalf of the United States. Furthermore, the TPA would limit Congress to a simple up or down vote on the final TPP terms, without the ability to subsequently add amendments pending the conclusion negotiations. The 62-37 vote in favor of the TPA overcame the objections of labor groups and progressives who have railed against the perceived lack of labor protections, secrecy of negotiations, and stringent intellectual property regulations. The House will take up the TPA after returning on June 1st, where it will face numerous hurdles from pro-labor democrats, “poison pill” amendments such as the proposed currency manipulation measure – which the President indicated he would veto, and conservatives, who are hesitant to grant the President negotiating authority on behalf of the United States.

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USCYBERCOM Struggles to Expand – Outsources $475 Million to Private Sector

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Fort Meade MD, place of performance for the contract

In late April, the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization released a request for proposals (RFP) concerning US Cyber Command’s (USCYBERCOM) $475 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity omnibus contract.* The RFP outlines 20 services selected contractors will provide:

  • Knowledge Management
  • Records Management
  • Cyber Operations
  • Planning; Science and Technology/Research and Development
  • Cyber Focused Training
  • Cyber Exercise
  • Engagements
  • Logistics
  • Integrated Technology Support
  • CybersecurityProject Analysis
  • Program Management
  • All-source Intelligence
  • Business Process ReengineeringSecurity
  • Strategy and Policy and Doctrine Development
  • Administrative Support
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$20 Billion for the NIH’s CIO-CS IT Contract 

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The National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) recently awarded its Chief Information Officer–Commodity Solutions (CIO-CS) Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), valued at $20 billion, to 65 companies. CIO-CS is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity information technology (IT) contract with a duration of ten years (Boyd, 2015). While the contract is primarily a health IT vehicle, it will also include a host of other services such as deployment and installation, engineering studies, web and video-conferencing, big data, virtualization and health and biomedical IT, maintenance and training, enterprise licenses and extended warranties, and cyber security (NIH, 2015). The NIH incorporated numerous changes into the CIO-CS as a result of the previous Electronic Commodities Store (ECS) III GWAC. 

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Pentagon Acquisition Reform Gains Traction

The inability of the Pentagon to rapidly assimilate new technologies and cut bureaucratic red tape is increasingly being perceived as not merely a poor use of tax dollars, but as a strategic liability by both senior DoD officials and members of Congress (Freedburg, 2015). In a March address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain compared the 18 month standard innovation cycle in the private sector to the Pentagon acquisition cycle, which can last for up to 18 years. McCain argued that the glacial pace of Pentagon acquisitions threatens to undermine the nation’s technological superiority, and the inefficient allocation of taxpayer dollars during sequestration further exacerbates the acquisition processes negative impact on national defense. 

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