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News briefs: Week of Oct. 7, 2013

Oct. 6, 2013 - 03:22PM   |  
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Bid protests on hold during shutdown

The ongoing government shutdown has put the brakes on new bid protests, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO will not be monitoring protest filings and will extend the deadline on bid protest decisions one day for every day the shutdown continues, and all deadlines are extended until the government reopens, according to a posting on the agency’s website.

“Any deadline for a protest filing from a private party that falls on a day that GAO is closed is extended to the first day that GAO resumes operations,” the posting said.

Any new protest received by GAO will be treated as if it was filed on the first day the agency resumes normal operations, according to GAO.

Cyber fears, budgets top IT managers' concerns

Shrinking budgets and the increasing threat of cyber attacks are among the greatest risks facing information technology managers today, according to a recent survey.

Technology firm Cisco surveyed 400 federal, state and local IT managers on their priorities and top concerns. Cybersecurity is expected to be the biggest IT growth area over the next year, followed by cloud computing and networking technologies.

Larry Payne, vice president for Cisco’s federal organization, said consolidation initiatives such as the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment and the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise are key examples of these trends.

Of those surveyed:

■ 28 percent said reducing costs is the top goal for IT leaders, compared with 22 percent who said improving security was a priority.

■ 79 percent think that most elected officials do not have a good understanding of how technology can be used to protect, serve and educate Americans.

■ 24 percent said they have great confidence in the cost effectiveness of cloud computing, compared with 54 percent who had some confidence and 12 percent who said they had no confidence.

Former DHS privacy officer called terrorist

A former privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security says she was regularly accused of being a terrorist by the agency and others across the intelligence community, according to news reports.

Speaking at an International Association of Privacy Professionals awards dinner last week, Mary Ellen Callahan claimed officials at DHS and other agencies accused her office once a month of being terrorists while carrying out their role of evaluating department programs, systems and technologies for potential privacy violations, according to reports from Techdirt and others.

Callahan also raised the issue of privacy officers at the National Security Agency and their effectiveness, saying the number of privacy officers there was zero.

She was honored last week by the IAPP for her work in consumer protection law.

USPS again defaults on retiree health payment

The U.S. Postal Service has defaulted for the third straight year on a legally required payment to a fund for future retiree health care.

The $5.6 billion payment, mandated by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, was due Sept. 30. USPS leaders have long said that the cash-short agency would be unable to make it. The Postal Service skipped similar-sized installments in 2011 and 2012.

Without congressional passage of a comprehensive overhaul aimed at restoring long-term financial stability, the agency is likely to remain “dangerously low” on cash for the foreseeable future, spokeswoman Patricia Licata said in an email.

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