Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Issues and Challenges for new Executive and Congressional Policymakers

One place that might not be on many people's radar to check for helpful information during new Presidential and Congressional transitions is the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO is often called the "congressional watchdog" since it "investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars."  It has a Presidential and Congressional Transition page with three topics to help new leaders focus on important issues and challenges:

  1. Priority Recommendations: The GAO sent letters to key federal departments and agencies urging them to focus on recommendations available for viewing by subject term, federal agency, or topic.
  2. Key Issues and High Risk List: "GAO’s High Risk List calls attention to agencies and program areas that are vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are in need of transformation."
  3. Management Agenda: "The Management Agenda provides high-level information for new leaders about the critical management challenges facing the federal government and lays out the actions needed to address those challenges."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tool to Track Key Executive Branch Appointments

Keeping track of who has been nominated to the more than 500 key executive branch offices is a daunting task just made easier by a tool developed by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The tool first shows how many of the 549 key positions requiring Senate confirmation have a nominee, how many of those nominated are awaiting confirmation, and how many have been confirmed.  You can then scroll through the positions arranged by department and see the name of the nominee with either Announced, Confirmed, or Withdrawal by the name.  Find the tool at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-administration-appointee-tracker/database/


Friday, January 13, 2017

BBC Team to Debunk Fake News

The BBC is assembling a team "to fact check and debunk deliberately misleading and false stories masquerading as real news." BBC will make its Reality Check series permanent to target false stories/facts being shared on social media. The news organization is emphasizing slow news, " news with more depth – data, investigations, analysis, expertise." See more in a January 12, 2017 post in the Guardian.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

General Accounting Office Study - Climate Information for Design Standards, Building Codes, and Certifications

On January 3, 2016 the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a study entitled Climate Change: Improved Federal Coordination Could Facilitate Use of Forward-Looking Climate Information in Design Standards, Building Codes, and Certifications. You can access the 45 page PDF report and/or fast facts, highlights, and recommendations. The purpose of the study is as follows:
GAO was asked to review the use of forward-looking climate information by standards-developing organizations. This report examines (1) what is known about the use of such information in standards, codes, and certifications; (2) challenges standards organizations face to using climate information; and (3) actions federal agencies have taken to address such challenges and additional actions they could take.
The GAO recommends that "federal agencies work together to provide forward-looking climate information for consideration in standards and codes."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

DHS and FBI Joint Analysis Report (JAR) on Russian Malicious Cyber Activity

A December 29, 2016 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release discusses  its Joint Analysis Report (JAR) with the FBI. Nicknamed "Grizzy Steppe, the JAR provides "details of the tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities."  The "Grizzy Steppe" is described as follows on the December 29, 2016 White House Fact Sheet: Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and Harassment:
  • The JAR includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have co-opted without the knowledge of their owners in order to conduct their malicious activity in a way that makes it difficult to trace back to Russia. In some cases, the cybersecurity community was aware of this infrastructure, in other cases, this information is newly declassified by the U.S. government.
  • The report also includes data that enables cybersecurity firms and other network defenders to identify certain malware that the Russian intelligence services use.  Network defenders can use this information to identify and block Russian malware, forcing the Russian intelligence services to re-engineer their malware.  This information is newly de-classified.
  • Finally, the JAR includes information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.  This information can help network defenders better identify new tactics or techniques that a malicious actor might deploy or detect and disrupt an ongoing intrusion.
DHS and FBI encourage security companies and private sector owners and operators to use this JAR to check their network traffic for signs of malicious activity as well as to "leverage these indicators in proactive defense efforts to block malicious cyber activity before it occurs."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Meet Tump's Cabinet Picks

Atlantic Media's Government Executive is a daily news source aimed at high-ranking civilian and military officials concerned with "carrying out the laws that define the government's role in our economy and society." It is now offering online brief descriptions of Trump's Cabinet picks so far who must still be confirmed by the Senate.  "Meet the Trump Cabinet" also includes newspaper quotes when appropriate to get a fuller picture of a nominee's viewpoints.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

War Strategies of General James Mattis, Trump's Secretary of Defense Nominee

USMC Major Michael L. Valenti from the US Army Command and General Staff College Press published a report in 2014 about the strategies General James Mattis, President-elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense, employed in war. The abstract on p. iii of The Mattis Way of War: an Examination of Operational Art in Task Force 58 and 1st Marine Division, summarizes his "way of war":
A “Mattis Way of War” is postulated in the conclusion which draws from his use of history, commander’s intent, and leadership to build up a capacity, or potential energy, for action in his unit. Once built up, he unleashes this energy utilizing explicit trust in his staff and subordinates.
Access a pdf of the full report including a three-page bibliography at http://armypress.dodlive.mil/files/2016/09/Mattis-WayofWarFinal.pdf.