Tech Roundup: Obama Orders Digitalization of Government Records

In a significant step in the management of federal government records , President Barack Obama on Monday ordered agencies to move to a digital-based records keeping system, the White House said. Read about this and more in this new Tech Roundup.
by false | November 26, 2011

In what will be the most significant step in the management of federal government records since the Truman administration, President Barack Obama on Monday ordered agencies to move to a digital-based records keeping system, the White House said.

“The current federal records management system is based on an outdated approach involving paper and filing cabinets. Today’s action will move the process into the digital age so the American public can have access to clear and accurate information about the decisions and actions of the Federal Government,” said President Obama.

The National Archives and Records Administration over the past decade has taken in an average of 475 million pages of records each year. But recently there has been significant grown in the volume of electronic records, with the total archival electronic holding currently at 142 terabytes, according to the White House.

A recent report by the National Archivist and Records Administration found that agencies have done a poor job of managing the increased volume and diversity of information that come with advances in information technology.  Many are unlikely to fully comply with legal requirements under the Federal Records Act.  The Records Management Presidential Memorandum responds to this underlying problem.

The order calls for reports within the next 120 days, by each agency head, describing current plans for improving records management programs; outlining current obstacles to sound, cost-effective records management policies; and cataloguing potential reforms and improvements. The agency reports will inform, and be followed, by a Records Management Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB and the National Archivist of the United States that will identify specific steps agencies must take to reform records management policies and practices.

FCC Launches Small Biz Cyber Planner

The FCC has launched the Small Biz Cyber Planner, an online resource to help small businesses create customized cybersecurity plans, according to the agency's blog. This is the result of an unprecedented public-private partnership between government experts and private IT and security companies, including DHS, NCSA, NIST, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Chertoff Group, Symantec, Sophos, Visa, Microsoft, HP, McAfee, The Identity Theft Council, ADP and others. The online tool is available at FCC.gov/cyberplanner.

By almost any measure small businesses have an outsized impact on our economy and it is critically important that small businesses, a vibrant engine for job and idea creation, are secure using the many broadband enabled tools they need to efficiently run their businesses, the FCC said. According to a survey released in October 2011 by Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), two-thirds of U.S. small businesses rely on broadband Internet for their day-to-day operations.

The FCC says the Small Biz Cyber Planner will be of particular value for businesses that lack the resources to hire a dedicated staff member to protect themselves from cyber-threats. Even a business with one computer or one credit card terminal can benefit from this important guidance.  The tool will walk users through a series of questions to determine what cybersecurity strategies should be included in the planning guide. Then a customized PDF is created that will serve as a cybersecurity strategy template for a small business.

This effort is part of an ongoing program to raise awareness about the cybersecurity risks to small businesses and to help these businesses become cyber-secure. Earlier this year, the FCC and a coalition of public and private-sector partners developed a cybersecurity tip sheet, which includes tips to educate business owners about basic steps they can take immediately to protect their companies. The tip sheet is available at FCC.gov/cyberforsmallbiz.

Indian Tribes Seek Share of Online Gambling Revenue

Native American tribes say they want their share of the jobs and revenue if online gambling is allowed in the United States, but they don't want to lose their sovereignty to get it.

Internet gambling has been prohibited in the United States since 2006, which has sent fans and their money to sites based offshore. With Congress searching for money to cut the deficit and create new jobs, supporters see an opening for legalizing at least some online gambling.

Should Congress act, the federal government will have to write rules and will likely collect taxes from proceeds. Native American tribes want the federal government to ensure they are allowed to operate, regulate, tax and license online gambling as well, if they choose to get in on the business.

There is bipartisan support for at least some Internet gambling. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has pushed for its legalization for years.

While there is no Internet gambling bill before the Senate committee, there is legislation in the House, though it already has opposition from tribal leaders.

Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, said tribes have united behind some core principles, including no taxation of tribal revenues. Current Internet gambling proposals violate those principles, "and we oppose their passage," Stevens said.

One such measure, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, would legalize online poker. Spokesman Sean Brown said the legislation would allow tribes, like states, to opt out of allowing Internet gambling if they chose. – The Associated Press

Bucks County, Pa., Awards Communications Contract to Motorola Solutions, Inc.

Motorola Solutions, Inc. has been awarded a contract with Bucks County, Pa., to provide a radio communications system for its public safety users. The Bucks County Commissioners approved the contract that will enable the county and its 54 communities to with GPS capability, encryption for police radios and improved efficiency through over-the-air programming of radios.

John Dougherty, emergency services director for Bucks County, Pa., said in a statement that “We are pleased to join forces with Motorola Solutions for this important public safety upgrade. I feel this is the best direction to go as far as the overall Emergency Services operation in Bucks County.”

The system makes the county compliant with new FCC regulations. “Bucks County is making the right decision by addressing the FCC’s requirement to complete narrowbanding well in advance of the Jan. 1, 2013 deadline,” said Jim Mears, corporate vice president for Motorola Solutions.

Free Cyber Security Webinar

USTelecom is hosting a free webinar “Botnets, Malware and other Cyber Threats: A Technology and Policy Primer” on Dec. 1, 2011, at 1 p.m. EST. The session features presenters Robert Mayer and Anthony Jones of USTelecom.

The webinar will cover botnets and other forms of malware, what the industry is doing to address the threats, and what venues exist within government to mitigate the risk and how effective are efforts within the public-private partnership to address the most criticial challenge, among other topics. To register, visit the USTelecom website.

--Compiled by Kathy A. Gambrell, Web Editor

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