In Depth Show Blog – May 21, 2013

This is the In Depth show blog. Here you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.

Jared Serbu filled in for host Francis Rose today, while Francis attended the Management of Change conference in Cambridge, Md.

Today’s Guests:


Kim Weaver
Director, External Relations
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

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The Treasury Department says it will temporarily stop its investments into some key federal retirement funds — the Civil Service Retirement System and the Thrift Savings Plan’s G Fund. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made the notification yesterday in a letter to Congress and to the managers of federal retirement funds. It’s among the “extraordinary measures” Treasury’s taking to keep the government’s finances afloat through at least Labor Day. Kim Weaver, director of external relations for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, spoke with Jared about what this means for TSP participants.

Charles Tiefer
Professor of Government Contracting Law
University of Baltimore Law School

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Doug Schulman, the man who led the Internal Revenue Service during what’s now emerged as a scandal involving inappropriate scrutiny of conservative groups who were seeking tax exempt status, told Congress today he owes no apology for what happened at the agency’s Cincinnati office. Schulman, whose term as IRS commissioner expired last November, told the Senate Finance Committee he didn’t have the full facts until the release of the recent IG report. Some rank-and-file IRS employees are concerned about the fallout from recent events. Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting law at the University of Baltimore Law School, spoke to Jared about whether those feds have a right to be worried.

Elizabeth Field Singer
Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Inspections
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

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Government contractors in Afghanistan are in a fiscal bind. Through a series of agreements, Afghanistan said it would exempt companies working for U.S. agencies on the reconstruction effort there from Afghan taxes. None-the-less, Afghanistan’s tax department has billed at least 43 companies for almost $1 billion in supposed tax liability. Not all of those taxes have been paid, but of those that have, some have been charged back to U.S. taxpayers. Elizabeth Field Singer, the Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Inspections at the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, just completed an audit of this situation. She spoke with Jared about the findings.

Dr. Phyllis Schneck
Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
McAfee’s Global Public Sector Division

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As Congress continues to debate how or whether to impose cybersecurity regulations on the operators of the nation’s critical infrastructure, it’s worth remembering that sector of the economy is one of the few that’s already subject to IT security oversight. But it’s patchwork and some experts argue the current regime of regulation fails to achieve its stated purpose. Dr. Phyllis Schneck, vice president and chief technology officer of McAfee’s Global Public Sector Division, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today to discuss critical infrastructure and cyber vulnerabilities, and the steps the energy sector is taking to mitigate them. She spoke with Jared about her testimony.

Lee Wilbur
Senior Vice President
Booz Allen Hamilton

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Four years ago when Congress passed the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act, one of the hopes was that DoD would use the new authority provided under the law to pursue quick-turnaround, low cost, iterative technology advances — a contrast to the huge, risky programs of record that characterize many weapons systems. But a new survey of acquisition managers finds the concept has yet to get off the ground in a significant way. Lee Wilbur, a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, which conducted the study on behalf of the Government Business Council, told Jared that Congress envisioned a broader role for what’s called rapid prototyping, and acquisition managers still want to use it.

Also on the show:

From Our Reporters:

The FedRAMP cloud cybersecurity process is building steam toward full operational capability later this year. The program achieved a major milestone with the first agency-approved cloud service. The Department of Health and Human Services determined Amazon Web Services met the security controls under FedRAMP and granted the company the authority to operate on its networks. Teresa Carlson, Amazon’s vice president of the Worldwide Public Sector Division, and Dave McClure, the General Services Administration’s associate administrator in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, sat down with Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller at the Management of Change Conference to discuss what Amazon’s approval means for the government. Read Jason’s article and listen to his interview with Carlson and McClure.

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