Justice Department sets up new Cyber-Digital Task Force

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  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions created a Cyber-Digital Task Force to make recommendations on policy and process changes across the Justice Department. The task force will review efforts to interfere with the nation’s elections and critical infrastructure, and how the Internet is used to spread violent ideologies and to recruit followers. It also will look at how technology is being used to avoid or frustrate law enforcement. Sessions said he wants a report from the task force by June. (Department of Justice)
  • President Trump’s proposal to more than double the Census Bureau’s current budget in fiscal 2019 still leaves the agency underfunded. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found census funding between 2016 and 2018 pales in comparison to the ramp-up for other census counts. The bureau’s spending is only projected to rise 23 percent between 2016 and 2018, while census spending increased by 79 percent between 2006 and 2008. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is the latest military service to take advantage of new legal authorities to commission new cyber officers. The service picked two currently-serving enlisted airmen — Master Sgts. Anthony Bustamante and Micheal Locke — as its first two candidates for a direct-appointment program Congress authorized last year. They’ll attend the service’s Officer Training School, and be commissioned as lieutenants upon graduation. The Army and Navy have already created similar pilot programs, but have used the new authorities to select prospective officers from outside the military. (Air Force)
  • Some leadership changes at the Environmental Protection Agency. Chris Zarba, the Director of EPA’s Science Advisory Board is retiring after almost 40 years in government. Meanwhile, Ted Stanich, current Deputy Director of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, will take over as acting associate administrator of the agency’s Office of Homeland Security.
  • Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan swore in Michael Griffin as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. The position is new as of February first and is crucial to the split of the Pentagon’s acquisition office. Griffin will help DoD work with new and innovative companies to keep U.S. technological superiority on the battlefield.
  • The Transportation Security Administration expanded the use of new technology to speed up the screening of airline passengers. TSA launched a test of facial recognition for overseas passengers at Los Angeles International Airport. The system will take a photo when a passenger presents a passport and boarding pass, and performs a comparison to verify the person matches the documents. LAX is also the test site for enhanced body scanners and automated baggage screening. The airport is one of several Innovation Task Force sites. (Transportation Security Administration)
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said he has no intention of quitting. The big six veterans service organizations have now offered their support for Shulkin. The Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America join AM-VETS and the American Legion in offering their support of the secretary. The VFW described the White House personnel who are reportedly trying to unseat Shulkin and Deputy Secretary Tom Bowman as a “cancer” inside the administration. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she *has no reason* to believe Shulkin doesn’t have the president’s trust. (Federal News Radio)
  • The FBI is finally ready to move into the cloud. Nearly 10 years after the “cloud-first” policy came out from OMB, the FBI is exploring how it could move to commercial providers. The FBI issued a request for information seeking answers from vendors around five broad areas. The FBI is interested in moving to infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service so it wants details about data center solutions, physical and access security approaches and services to host third party apps across multiple operating systems. Responses to the RFI are due March 2. (FedBizOpps)
  • Vice President Mike Pence is leading the second meeting of the National Space Council today. Pence will talk with civil, commercial and national security businesses about the importance of the U.S. space enterprise. The theme of the meeting is “Moon, Mars and the Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier.”