Congress

August 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: Shutterstock/MDOGAN

Congressional leaders guiding the Congressional Blockchain Caucus are finding that part of their informative role necessitates distinguishing between the infamous dark web capabilities of digital commodities and the groundbreaking capabilities that a blockchain platform can offer as an advanced technology.

Blockchain, also described as a distributed cryptographic digital ledger, provides a verified record of transactions that is immutable or unchangeable. Legislators purport that the powerful capability, which some say could transform the economy, can be applied well beyond digital commodities for use in such sectors as healthcare, defense, supply chain management and cybersecurity.

July 18, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
After five years in use, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, known as FedRAMP, offers benefits to federal governmental agencies, as well as some challenges, experts tell Congress. Credit Shutterstock/Blackboard

Officials from several federal agencies testified on Wednesday as to the effectiveness of the government’s cloud accreditation process, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, with mixed reviews. Most witnesses before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing, entitled To the Cloud! The Cloudy Role of FedRAMP in IT Modernization, confirmed the positive benefits of the program.

July 15, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Democrats, passes its version of the annual defense spending authorization bill, which will have to be ironed out with the Republican-led Senate. Credit: Shutterstock/Turtix

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, H.R. 2500, by a vote of 220-197. Known as the NDAA, the annual legislation authorizes policy measures for the Defense Department. It varies from the Senate’s bill, S. 1790—passed on June 28—which the two legislative bodies will have to reconcile before sending a final NDAA to the president.

July 11, 2019
 
 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security takes a closer look at how the government is using biometrics in protecting the nation. Credit: Shutterstock/Andrea Izzotti

The current climate surrounding the identification of citizens and deportation of noncitizens is fiery at best. And while facial recognition and other biometric technologies offer the government advanced tools to protect the homeland, some critics, including lawmakers, are sounding the alarm on how agencies are using identification data and whether citizens' privacy rights are being protected.

May 14, 2019
Kimberly Underwood
Lawmakers have created a new organization, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, to tackle a national cybersecurity policy.

Legislators on Capitol Hill have formed the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, known as the CSC, which will put together a comprehensive U.S. cyber policy. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who is co-chairing the new organization with Rep. Michael Gallagher (R-Wisc.), announced the formation of the Geneva Convention-type commission in a call with reporters on May 13. The establishment of the commission was outlined in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sen. King said.

February 27, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Congress is keeping an eye on the Defense Department’s information technology efforts. Credit:Shutterstock/Tono Balaguer

The U.S. House of Representatives is examining the status of the Defense Department’s information technology, modernization efforts and strategic direction. The House Armed Forces Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, led by ranking member Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), held a hearing on February 26, with top DOD IT leaders testifying.   

February 26, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade prepare to board a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft, in preparation for operations in Pordenone, Italy, on February 21. The brigade is the service's Contingency Response Force that responds to the needs of the U.S. European, Africa or Central Commands. The Army’s Fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, expected to be presented to Congress on March 12, has to support these operations as well as its modernization efforts. Army Photo by Paolo Bovo

The U.S. Army is striving to modernize and go faster, with a better focus, said Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy at a breakfast meeting on February 26 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare. This includes taking measures to be more effective with the funding the Army receives. “We're trying to put in a behavior of reform so that we can do better with every dollar that we have,” he stated.

August 30, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Michael Moss, deputy director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), told Congress that CTIIC remains concerned by the "increasingly damaging effects of cyber operations and the apparent acceptance by adversaries of collateral damage." Credit: Shutterstock/EVorona

As billions more Internet of Things (IoT)-related devices come online, the barrage of cyber threats will not only continue but will target users in new ways. Moreover, the number of adversaries mounting attacks against the United States in cyberspace will continue to grow in the next year, as nation-states, terrorist groups, criminal organizations and others persist in the development of cyber warfare capabilities, Michael Moss, deputy director, Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) warned during recent Congressional testimony.

August 14, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) perform an air assault demonstration for President Trump during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, on August 13. The demonstration was part of the President’s ceremony to sign the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, which authorizes funding for U.S. defense and military activities for Fiscal Year 2019. Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Thomas Scaggs.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA 2019), passed by Congress on August 1 and signed by President Trump yesterday, takes cybersecurity a step further, with language affirming DOD’s role in defending against attacks and operating in cyberspace, the fifth warfare domain.

Although past NDAA legislation has included some provisions on DOD’s cyber role, this year’s bill specifies that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct military cyber activities or operations in cyberspace—including clandestine activities—to defend the United States and its allies.

May 30, 2018
By Don Maclean
Although hacking back against cyber criminals may seem morally justifiable, it can quickly spiral out of control. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

Whether a Social Security number from an individual, or financial information from a company, hackers continue to find ways to steal data from millions of Americans. To combat these crimes, the idea of active cyber defense has arisen on Capitol Hill with the introduction of the Active Cyber Defense Certainty (ACDC) Act.

In January, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen voiced measured support for empowering companies to be more active in their approach to cybersecurity. These active measures would allow companies to access other computer networks in order to thwart cyber attacks, monitor the hackers, collect evidence or destroy stolen files.

April 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Some lawmakers are calling for more cyber protections.

Amid the political scuffles on Capitol Hill about immigration, health care and budget legislation to keep the federal government open, cybersecurity is not necessarily one of the highest policy-making priorities. This must change, some lawmakers say. Cyber attacks, already plentiful and disastrous, will only increase in frequency and scale over time. The United States needs more protections and measures, especially at the federal level, according to some legislators.

July 21, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Now that the federal government is collecting cyberthreat intelligence from agencies and private businesses, the repository undoubtedly will be a prime target by the very threat the program seeks to wipe out.

In June, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice issued final guidance for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015, which Congress passed in December after years of industry efforts to push information sharing legislation over the finish line.

CISA paves the way for private companies to share cyberthreat information, not just with each other but with the government, and appointed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the clearinghouse for all of that data.

July 21, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. lawmakers launched a bipartisan bid to boost the Department of Homeland Security's powers to better oversee cybersecurity compliance by federal agencies and intervene when they might fail to safeguard their networks.  

The Senate bill would strengthen the department's ability to enforce cybersecurity standards governmentwide, and “in the event that a federal agency chooses not to do so, [the] DHS would have the authority to stand in … and prevent worse damages from occurring,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in announcing her plans to submit the bill to the full Senate on Tuesday. 

May 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The Small Business Administration (SBA) could not fully determine federal agencies’ compliance with spending requirements on programs established to stimulate small business grow and development because most federal agencies surveyed submitted incorrect data, according to a Congressional investigative report.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, found the SBA cannot fully determine if all 11 agencies analyzed met spending requirements for fiscal 2013, citing that nine of the 11 participating agencies failed to follow SBA’s guidance on submitting data on total extramural research and development obligations, the office reported.

March 3, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday ended its stalemate and voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security though the end of the fiscal year in September. The vote means the department avoids a shutdown and the furloughing of staff members.

Lawmakers voted 257-167, with most Republicans voting against the bill. The Senate had passed its version of a clean bill last week. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

At issue was a mostly Republican-led disagreement over the White House’s controversial immigration order to grant temporary work permits to an estimated five million immigrants who entered the United States illegally.  The bill passed Tuesday carries no immigration provisions. 

February 26, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by leadership and employees from the DHS, calls on Congress on Monday to fully fund the department.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson voiced a hesitant optimism Thursday that U.S. Congress will come together to fully fund the department before tomorrow’s deadline that could shutter parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Without a successful vote by Congress, at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the DHS will begin furloughing about 30,000 employees, including most of the headquarters staff, while another 200,000 will work without pay, Johnson said during a press briefing to discuss the need for Congress to pass an appropriations bill to fully fund the department.

October 7, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released a proposal to secure the border entitled “Blueprint for Southern Border Security.” The proposal calls for a broad mix of technologies, including radar, manned or unmanned aircraft, aerostats and unattended ground sensors. The technologies deployed should be as varied as the terrain.

July 6, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower
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