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News briefs: Week of Oct. 14

Oct. 13, 2013 - 02:07PM   |  
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Feds expect sequester to return in 2014

Federal employees are bracing for another budget sequester in fiscal 2014, according to poll results released last week.

Out of 400 middle-class federal families (those with annual household incomes of at least $50,000) who responded to an online survey last month, 90 percent said they are not confident Congress will act to avoid automatic budget cuts this year, according to a summary released by First Command Financial Services, a Texas-based firm that commissioned the survey.

About three out of five respondents said the prospect of another sequester leaves them very or extremely anxious; half said they are cutting back on everyday spending as a result.

The survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, according to First Command spokesman Mark Leach. The 2011 Budget Control Act requires annual sequesters for the rest of the decade because Congress failed to agree on a long-term $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package.

The first sequester, which took effect in March, cut fiscal 2013 defense spending by about 8 percent and spending at most domestic agencies by 5 percent.

States may use own money to reopen national parks

With the partial federal government shutdown still unresolved, the Obama administration said it will allow states to use their own money to reopen national parks that have been shuttered during the impasse.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told state officials that she would consider agreements with governors who are willing to fully fund National Park Service personnel to reopen the 401 parks nationwide that have been closed since Oct. 1.

Blake Androff, an Interior Department spokesman, stressed that the state’s payments would be viewed as donations and would not be reimbursed unless Congress passed legislation to do so.

Average cost of cyber crime tops $ 1 1 billion

As cyber attacks rise in sophistication and frequency, so has the cost to remediate then, according to a new study.

The report, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by HP Enterprise Security, pegged the average annual cost of responding to a cyber attack at $11.6 million, that’s up from $8.9 million in 2012. The “Cost of Cyber Crime Study” surveyed 60 U.S.-based companies, many of which are multinational.

U.S. companies reported higher costs than foreign companies in Germany, Japan, France United Kingdom and Australia, which were included in a similar global study.

In the U.S., the annual cost ranged from $1.3 million to $58 million and includes the cost of recovering from or containing an attack, doing forensics and buying tools to determine the extent of the damage.

The numbers don’t include the cost of lost intellectual property, which can exceed the total of all other costs, said Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of the Ponemon Institute, a research think tank dedicated to privacy and data protection.

“Our numbers are really conservative, which means we aren’t hyping the issue,” he said. “The reality is there is that other missing [link]. It’s like dark matter in the universe, we don’t see it but we know it exists.”

NASA delays due date for $20B contract

The government shutdown has forced NASA to extend the deadline for bids on its $20 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract.

The agency will provide a new due date once the shutdown ends but expects that deadline will be slated for after Nov. 1, according to an online notice. Originally, companies had until Oct. 14 to bid.

The contract will provide agencies with desktops, laptops, servers and other information technology equipment.

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