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The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $140 million in grants to states across the country to help them develop IT systems that will run the new health insurance exchanges. The state-based exchanges, created as part of the healthcare reform act, are designed to be one-stop shops for individuals and small businesses to compare and buy health insurance online. The exchanges don't kick in until 2014, but HHS says it wants to give seven states a head start on developing reusable, transferrable IT systems so they can be used as models, and HHS can show other states the best ways to create their own IT infrastructure to support the exchanges. The grants will go to Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and a consortium of New England states.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rolling out a new phase of its food environment atlas. The Web tool was originally designed a year ago to let users click on any county in the country, and get data on the local food choices and diet quality that influence an individual community's health. IT was developed as part of the first lady's Let's Move campaign. The latest rollout almost doubles the number of data points for each county in the atlas. It now considers 168 different indicators. USDA says the updates they've just made to the web tool will also let the agency and the site's users track changes in food choice over time. It includes data on everything from the concentration of farmers markets vs. convenience stores in a given community, to the average distance to the nearest grocery store. The site has already logged 100,000 visitors.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is launching a beta version of a new R&D Dashboard. The idea is to let anyone who accesses the new site take a look at where federal research and development money is going, how it's being used, and what the outcomes of research projects are. It uses publicly-available data to show users federal research dollars at the state level, the Congressional district level, even down to the specific research institutions getting the grants. The R&D Dashboard is being developed by a team led by the National Science Foundation, and for now it only includes data from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health over the last decade. But OSTP plans to expand the sites to include other types of research grants in the future.
The chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services committee are determined to find a near-term way to pass a Defense Department budget, and not merely a continuing resolution, for fiscal year 2011, the panel's top Democrat said Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security already has real-time access to biometric data maintained in the FBI's huge database of criminal records. Within the next year, it'll be able to share similar data with the Defense Department.
Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the military's new Cyber Command and the director of the NSA, said DoD can help protect private networks from cyber attack - especially critical infrastructure - without infringing on civil liberties. He said civilian agencies and private network operators could leverage NSA's capabilities without having the spy agency be in charge of security.
Tags: DoD , cybersecurity , technology , Keith Alexander , U.S. Cyber Command , NSA , DHS , Do William Lynn , privacy , civil liberties , Information Technology Exchange Program , industry , information sharing ,
The service says it's getting closer to determining the path forward for issuing smartphones to soldiers in the field. It's something the service says could eventually provide warfighters with an all-in-one platform for training, battlefield communications and more.
A panel of experts said contractors should prepare for a potential government shutdown by figuring out how their specific contracts would be affected in such a scenario. Step one, they said, is for vendors to talk with their agency contracting officers.
The Navy is alerting servicemembers that operating under continuing resolution funding levels in its manpower and personnel accounts will lead to orders to new duty stations on much shorter notice.
The Defense Department's procurement chief is asking contractors to submit comments on acquisition practices that increase costs but do not add value to DoD purchases. The request is part of DoD's "Better Buying Initiative."