CBP searched through record number of electronic devices in 2017

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  • Customs and Border Protection searched a record number of cellphones and other electronic devices in 2017. CBP went through over 30,000 devices of inbound and outbound travelers last year. A big jump from 19,000 in 2016. The agency is also making changes to enhance restrictions on advanced searches. (Customs and Border Protection)
  • Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General questioned details of  the agency’s information submitted under the DATA Act. The 2014 law aims to make federal spending data more easily accessible. However, the IG found that though DHS met its 2017 deadline, the information wasn’t complete or accurate enough to meet the spirit of the law. The agency watchdog issued six recommendations for more internal controls at DHS, the agency says it agrees with five of them. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Peace Corps has improved its sexual assault prevention measures, but it hasn’t done all that it claims to have done. A former director of the Peace Corp’s Office of Victim Advocacy told the Office of Special Counsel that the agency fails to take action against volunteers who engage in sexual misconduct, and doesn’t give enough prevention training to host families or counseling to assault victims. U.S. Special Counsel Henry Kerner said the Peace Corps should consider more training, even though the law doesn’t require it. (Office of Special Counsel)
  • Could your postman become your next Census taker? That’s the idea behind ongoing talks with the Census Bureau. The National Association of Letter Carriers said it’s worth looking into. The NALC and American Postal Workers Union are also looking forward to what they think will be a strong first quarter announcement from the Postal Service. The postal unions also said they’re looking for further action from Congress this year on a postal reform bill that left committee last February. (Federal News Radio)
  • Check off another item on the cyber executive order to-do list. The departments of Commerce and Homeland Security identified five goals and a host of action items to reduce the threat of botnets around the country. As required under President Donald Trump’s May 2017 executive order, DHS and Commerce issued a draft report aimed at better securing the technology ecosystem of the public and private sectors. Commerce and DHS want public comment on the draft report by February 12. The agencies plan to hold a two-day workshop at NIST in Rockville, Maryland on February 28. and March 1. (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)
  • The Pentagon is reshuffling the membership of the steering group that’s supposed to speed up its adoption of cloud computing. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan made the changes in a memo last week. DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Ellen Lord, who had been the chair of the Cloud Executive Steering Group, will no longer be a member, nor will anyone else from her office. It is now chaired by Jay Gibson, DoD’s deputy chief management officer. In another significant change, Essye Miller, the acting DoD CIO will join the panel. Previously, the group had no voting members from the CIO’s office. (Federal News Radio)
  • Soldiers, retirees and military family members were slightly more satisfied with Army medical treatment facilities in 2017. Around 93 percent of the 2.7 million patients reported very high satisfaction, up 2 percent from 2016. Looking to improve even more, the Army Medical Command said it is working on a website to let all military health centers exchange ideas. (Department of Defense)
  • Veterans Affairs wants to know how it can improve its Family Caregivers program. A federal register notice has initiated a 30 day comment period to hear from stakeholders on how the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers could be refined. It will use the responses to guide any future modifications and make improvements. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • One federal benefits program had costs drop by $12 billion over the last four years. SNAP, the supplemental nutrition assistance program from the Agriculture Department, had 4.5 million fewer people on the roles last year than in 2014. Newly released numbers showed program outlays also fell, from $70 billion to $58 billion. In December the Trump administration tightened the rules, ending state waivers of interest income verification for SNAP recipients. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)