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FCW : January 2016
Trending consecutive backspaces can bypass Linux login security, thanks to a recently discovered bug in the Grub2 bootloader 28 6 January 2016 FCW.COM The final protest of the General Serv- ices Administration’s blanket purchase agreement for agile development has been resolved. In December, the agen- cy said the unrestricted portion of the contracting vehicle was open for busi- ness and a 17th contractor had been added. Although GSA chose the awardees last year, there were multiple protests. In a Dec. 17 blog post, V. David Zveny- ach, acquisition management director at 18F, wrote, “We learned that the final protest has been resolved, which means we can soon begin awarding work under the agile BPA.” The agency announced the con- tracting vehicle almost a year ago to keep in step with the quickening pace of agile development cycles and the associated need for speedier software acquisitions. GSA’s novel approach to the $25 million BPA prompted more ques- tions than anticipated and confounded some vendors, resulting in two delays in the release of the final request for proposals. Unlike typical contract vehicles, 18F’s agile BPA sought to pool GSA Schedule 70 vendors for rapid agile or DevOps work on projects with 18F and partner agencies. To seal the deal, vendors had to cre- ate a functional project using datasets from the Food and Drug Administra- tion, rather than simply submit a writ- ten proposal. In August, 18F announced 16 ven- dors for the BPA. Since then a new vendor was added: InQbation. The company describes itself on its web- site as an early-stage business start- up accelerator, whose brands include Schedule 70 contract holder and web designer Agileana and web content management provider Balystic. — Mark Rockwell Protests resolved, GSA launches agile BPA A programming error has cost the IRS millions in faultily disbursed tax refunds, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administra- tion report made public in December. The refund claims, identified as sketchy by the Return Integrity and Compliance Services’ Integrity and Verification Operations team, should have been held for further review, but the computer glitch TIGTA discovered did the opposite. If a return that had been slapped with a two-week resequencing tag was also selected for examination within the IRS systems, the error would kick in, removing the hold and allowing the suspect refund to be disbursed. The damage for the 2013 tax year was more than 13,000 erroneous tax refunds totaling more than $27 million. The IRS apparently failed to catch the glitch because of poor oversight of timelines for reviewing tax returns. TIGTA also found another 3,910 returns in 2013 that the IRS had marked for review but examiners had left unverified. Those returns cost the government some $19 million. TIGTA recommended that the IRS fix the glitch, institute periodic testing to reconcile verification records with other IRS systems and ensure that reviewers verify claims in a timely fashion. “While the IRS has made important strides in its programs that prevent the issuance of fraudulent refunds, our auditors found that it is not always ensuring that tax examiners timely complete their verification work before releasing refunds,” said IRS watchdog J. Russell George. IRS officials agreed with the recommendations. — Zach Noble Computer glitch costs millions in errant tax refunds Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen has issued a directive requiring defense agencies to use a departmentwide framework for imple- menting and managing IT services. The Dec. 24, 2015, memo reaffirms the DOD Enterprise Service Manage- ment Framework as the baseline by which defense agencies should mea- sure their IT performance. “IT services will be defined, catego- rized, published and measured based on the DESMF,” the memo states. It covers service management standards “that enable conformance to objec- tives, integrated operations, audit and capability assessment.” The framework is an evolving docu- ment that is updated at least annually, and it is central to Halvorsen’s effort to standardize how military agencies with varied IT footprints measure progress. According to Halvorsen’s memo, the framework will include supple- mental guidance to support agencies as they adopt IT service management best practices. The goal is to use the framework as a rubric for improving the way DOD agencies deliver IT services. Agency heads are responsible for measuring the quality of those services at least annually or whenever called upon by the CIO. — Sean Lyngaas Pentagon CIO issues IT services directive 0116fcw_003-011.indd 6 1/6/16 2:39 PM
November and December 2015