Is the sequester hurting cybersecurity? Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Does big data really matter? TechAmerica’s new survey says a resounding yes. We go over the pros and cons with TechAmerica’s president Jennifer Kerber. Click here for the full recap.

It’s Pi Day! Happy 3.14 day. USA Today has found five ways to celebrate.

Your Sequestration Reader:

  • Federal News Radio: The Defense Department is creating dozens of teams to protect its computer networks and go after bad guys. But like so many initiatives, the cuts from sequestration threaten these teams in multiple ways. DoD’s U.S. Cyber Command plans to hire as many as 900 employees over the next few years to create three sets of teams to defend their networks and go on the offensive against attackers. Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the Cyber Command, said DoD already is developing the tactics, techniques and procedures for how these teams will work.
  • Forbes: What can defense companies do to help offset any potential loss in sales? A simple solution, really: diversify. Some defense companies have been preparing for sequestration for a couple of years through diversification, according to Manan K. Shah, a managing partner at Focus Investment Banking. Companies may continue to look for acquisitions in areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), cyber security, health care IT and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), he said.
  • Washington Post: Federal employees take sequestration fight to the people. The largest federal union plans to hold 100 rallies next Wednesday across the country, a “National Day of Protest” against the widespread cuts, called sequestration, that threaten federal pay and public services. Organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the rallies will be held outside federal agencies and the offices of members of Congress.
  • GovExec: Not everyone hates sequestration. While most in government — from President Obama to agency heads to front-line workers to lawmakers to contractors — have decried the across-the-board spending cuts of sequestration, a select few could actually benefit from them. Like premium pay executives and federal employee lawyers.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Senate Democrats unveiled their budget plan for 2014 and beyond. Federal News Radio reports it was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Budget Committee. It calls for $1 trillion in tax hikes and slightly higher levels of spending over 10 years. The committee votes on the measure today. The Senate plan is the diametric opposite of a budget approved by the House Budget Committee. The Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) blueprint would cut growth in entitlement programs and promise $4 trillion more in deficit reduction than the Democratic plan. Both measures face floor debates next week.
  2. No furloughs planned for the Office of Personnel Management. GovExec reports OPM is confident it will meet the sequester’s required budget cuts through operational and administrative cost reductions, as well as a hiring freeze, the official said. The agency implemented a hiring freeze last year in preparation for a possible sequester.
  3. Federal News Radio reports, the Agriculture Department is suspending some popular reports, citing sequestration budget cuts. The National Agricultural Statistical Service maintains data on a range of faming categories. Its reports can affect markets. The service says it will stop reports on production of milk, cattle, potatoes, peas, hops, non-citrus fruit, rice, mink and catfish. The suspension of the monthly reports will last until the end of the fiscal year. In a notice on its website, USDA says the decision to interrupt the reports was not made lightly. The agency says it will save nearly $6 million.
  4. Federal Times says the number of federal employees who were delinquent on their taxes increased sharply in 2011, according to IRS statistics. As of September 2011, 107,658 feds were behind on their taxes — nearly 10 percent higher than the 98,291 feds who were tax-delinquent in 2010. The rate of tax delinquency also increased, from 3.3 percent of the workforce in 2010 to 3.6 percent in 2012.
  5. Federal Times reports, The FBI would save $44 million in leasing costs annually by consolidating its offices at a new headquarters, according to a top agency official. About 5,000 FBI employees work in 20 leased spaces across the Washington area, Kevin Perkins, associate deputy director at the FBI, told lawmakers at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Another 5,000 work at the headquarters building, which is old, inefficient and not able to meet basic requirements such as security, he said.
  6. GCN reports, the federal government is seeking help from the public for ideas to boost cybersecurity measures for the nation’s critical infrastructure. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a request for information for what it calls the first step in the process to develop a Cybersecurity Framework. The Cybersecurity Framework will be a set of voluntary standards and best practices to guide industry in reducing cyber risks to the networks and computers that support critical infrastructure vital to the nation’s economy, security and daily life, according to the NIST announcement published in the Federal Register .
  7. And on GovLoop, should we furlough gov 2.0 or double down? We talk to a panel of Gov 2.0 experts in the next installment of DorobekINSIDER Live. The free virtual panel is next Wednesday 3.20 at Noon ET. Be there.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • White House to send an Ambassador to the Vatican. GovExec says the Obama administration and the Vatican haven’t enjoyed the smoothest relationship over the past four years. In the wake of the Affordable Care Act, more than 40 Catholic organizations brought lawsuits against the administration, in opposition to the law’s mandate that Catholic hospitals and charities have to comply with its perspective on birth control. But the president has a symbolic gesture coming up that could patch up or further unnerve the U.S.-Vatican relationship. He has to appoint an ambassador to the Holy See, a position that has been left unfilled since the election. This appointment, as the National Catholic Register explains, is “a test for the kind of relations the administration wishes to have with the Catholic Church in President Obama’s second term.” And that test has no easy answer for an administration that supports abortion rights and contraception.

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