Former DoD chief Ash Carter calls Space Force a ‘bad idea’

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  • Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter called the concept of building a new wing of the military devoted to space a “bad idea.”  President Donald Trump has floated the idea to add a space force military branch that would conduct warfighting missions beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Speaking at Mitre’s 2018 Space Computing and Connected Enterprise Resiliency Conference in Massachusetts this week, Carter said creating a space force would make the domain even more separated from the military branches than it is now. “We need to head in the direction of integration,” he said. (Air Force Mag)
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has put a hold on the nomination of Bill Evanina for permanent director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. Grassley said he does not question Evanina’s credentials, but is disappointed by the failure of the director of National Intelligence to provide documents related to an ongoing investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Evanina’s name appears in a series of text messages related to the investigation. (Congress.gov)
  • Three agencies have received the first tranche of awards under the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The departments of Agriculture, Energy and Housing and Urban Development received a combined $45 million out of the $100 million TMF. Energy will receive $15 million  to help it migrate email to the cloud. HUD will receive $20 million to accelerate its efforts to move applications off mainframes. USDA gets $10 million to further develop its Farmers.gov portal. (FCW.com)
  • Just over a week after a federal court dismissed its lawsuit against the government, Kaspersky Lab has filed an appeal. The company submitted its case to the federal appeals court of Washington, D.C. claiming that the lower court’s decision was off the mark. Kaspersky said it maintains that DHS and congressional actions were unconstitutional and unfairly targeted the company without any meaningful fact finding. Kaspersky said given the lack of evidence of wrongdoing by the company, the decisions have broad implications for the global technology community.  (Tass)
  • The House Appropriations Committee is proposing an almost $675 billion defense budget for 2018. The legislation provides a total of $145.7 billion for equipment and upgrades, including 12 new Navy ship and 93 F-35 fighters.  The funds would pay for a 2.6 percent increase in military service member pay.  (House Appropriations)
  • Agencies chipped away at their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request backlogs last year, despite a surge in new requests. The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy found the government reduced the backlog by 3.2  percent in FY 2017. Agencies received more than 800,000 FOIA requests last year, the highest-ever surge in new cases. Agencies also reduced their response times to handle simple FOIA requests. There are more than 400 FOIA offices across 116 agencies. (Justice)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee said it wants to boost the buyout agencies can offer as an incentive to retire from $25,000 to $40,000. The increase to Voluntary Separation Incentives Payments was included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The Defense Department got authority to offer $40,000 last year, but civilian agencies have not seen a change since 2002. Many federal employees said they were more likely to take a buyout  if it was worth more. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Virginia National Guard refuted an officer’s claim that he had been ordered to drive an armored personnel carrier off base. First Lt. Joshua Yabut told The Associated Press his commander told him to take the vehicle as part of a training exercise to gauge the police response. Yabut was arrested in downtown Richmond after a lengthy police chase, and is being held against his will in a psychiatric hospital. A Guard spokesman said the officer was not authorized to drive the carrier off of Ft. Pickett “to any location for any reason.” (Federal News Radio)
  • Lawmakers said they are not satisfied with the Health and Human Services Department’s report on its readiness to deal with cyber threats to the healthcare sector. The report made no mention of the agency’s Healthcare Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (HCCIC), which is meant as the lynch pin to the department’s cybersecurity strategy. But the department has been closemouthed about its operations since it launched in May 2017. In a letter, lawmakers from both chambers of Congress requested the report be updated to include information on the HCCIC’s functions. (House Energy & Commerce)