This weekly feature surveys top government IT-related news -- involving all levels of government, from the federal to state and local, and international news. It is designed to give readers a primer on current trends and developments affecting the industry's major and interesting players, surveying news headlines from around the world. Washingtonpost.com's Cynthia L. Webb pens the feature. E-mail Cindy Webb Cindy Webb's Daily Filter Column
Uncle Sam's e-government efforts appear to be getting the short end of the budget stick again this year. "House lawmakers this month approved a measure to cut $13.3 million from four Quicksilver projects when they passed the fiscal 2005 Interior appropriations bill. Subsequent appropriations bills could also target funding for e-government projects, a House appropriations committee spokesman said," Government Computer News reported. "Specifically, a provision prohibits the departments of Interior and Energy, as well as the Agriculture Department's Forest Service, from using discretionary money to fund the Disaster Management, E-Rulemaking, E-Training and Safecom initiatives."
Federal Computer Week reported that OMB e-gov czar Karen Evans "emphasized the need for agencies to work together to fund the initiatives. Pooling resources on these programs provides cost efficiencies governmentwide and value to citizens, she said, referring to the E-Training initiative, which brought costs for training materials down from dollars to pennies. 'OMB and federal agencies will continue to work with Congress to highlight similar successes as well as future opportunities to make the federal government more cost-effective and responsive to the citizen,' Evans said."
The Department of Homeland Security's wireless networks face security risks due to inadequate security controls, the DHS's Office of Inspector General concluded in a new report. In a synopsis of its findings, the IG wrote: "DHS has not provided sufficient guidance to its components or established adequate controls necessary to implement its wireless program. Specifically: (1) wireless policy is incomplete, (2) procedures do not establish a sound baseline for wireless security implementation, and (3) the National Wireless Management Office is not exercising its full responsibilities in addressing DHS' wireless technologies. Further, DHS has not established adequate security measures to protect its wireless networks and devices against security risks. Finally, although the DHS security policy requires certification and accreditation (C&A) for its systems to operate, none of the wireless systems reviewed had been certified or accredited. As a result of these wireless network exposures, DHS cannot ensure that the sensitive information processed by its wireless systems are effectively protected from unauthorized accesses and potential misuse." Government Computer News picked up the news today, reporting that "DHS issued a written response in which it agreed with most of the report's findings and recommendations, but defended the activities of the National Wireless Management Office."
In other DHS news, National Journal's Technology Daily reported yesterday that DHS's "chief information officer is likely to receive less money next year than President Bush requested for department-wide technology such as wireless and geospatial devices. The House-passed spending bill for the department in fiscal 2005 includes $211 million for the CIO -- $15 million lower than Bush's request and $27 million more than last year's level. House lawmakers passed the measure, H.R. 4567, on a 400-5 vote June 18."
Northrop Grumman's information technology unit is the latest company to reap the rewards of a hike in Uncle Sam's homeland security needs. The company was awarded a purchase agreement to help DHS manage a new human resource system. The contract is worth at least $2 million and could translate into as much as $175 million, Federal Computer Week reported. The Los Angeles Business Journal also picked up the news.
Other Noteworthy Government IT News:
* Digital government is trickling down to the local level. A school board in a St. Louis suburb is embracing computerized agenda notes for its meetings. "Stacks of agendas and reports have moved off tables and appear on laptops by high-speed Internet connections at Parkway School Board meetings. Parkway has become one of the first school boards in the region and one of only a few in Missouri and Illinois to move to mostly paperless board meetings. Board members use laptop computers to page through agendas and reports. The public can view the agenda and reports online, even before meetings. Those who attend board meetings can look at agenda items projected from cyberspace onto a large screen," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
* Indiana is aiming to close the "digital divide" with its new SimIndiana program, which offers state residents free access to a software program with e-mail, file-sharing capabilities and other tools. "This eliminates the economic barriers that have prevented some people from utilizing and benefiting from technology," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis in announcing the program, according to The Indianapolis Star. "People can use their home computer, or computers available at schools and libraries across the state, to set up a SimIndiana account by going to www.mylocal.IN.gov or www.simindiana.com, or by picking up a SimIndiana CD-ROM from any Indiana public library. Davis said that once the account is set up, the software will allow for e-mail, remote printing, spreadsheets, calendars and other computer tools at any computer. Users' documents are then stored on a remote, secure server and can be accessed via the Internet," the article said.
* The General Accounting Office thinks the Pentagon needs to do better work at melding its communications technologies, Federal Computer Week reported. "Sensors and communications equipment have enhanced the military's ability to share a broad view of the battlefield and communicate quickly with all force elements. But certain barriers are blocking the progress of net-centric warfare. By looking at bombing campaigns in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, Congressional auditors determined the impact of network improvements on operational effectiveness, precision weapons and identification of barriers to progress," the news outlet reported.
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