Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

MITRE Launches Challenge to Fix Improper Payment Problem

In 2017, Federal agencies spent nearly $141 billion on improper payments. MITRE, a nonprofit that manages federally funded research and development centers supporting several Federal agencies, launched a challenge on Monday seeking creative and innovative solutions to the government’s expensive improper payment problem. The challenge, dubbed the Strengthening Eligibility Verification Challenge, is eight weeks long and is open to individual entrepreneurs, college teams, state and local government representatives, and large and small for-profit and not-for-profit entities. Successful entries could win up to $50,000. Submissions must be: operationally feasible for deployment and should be affordable and replicable; implementable without major legislative change; and designed so as not to significantly burden benefits recipients. MITRE offers more information, including a challenge timeline, on the challenge’s website.

Leidos Lands Social Security Contracts

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has awarded Leidos $639 million in task orders. Through two task orders, Leidos has been contracted to support SSA’s Office of Software Engineering (OSE) and the Disability Case Processing System (DCPS). The task orders have a base period through the end of September of this year with an additional four one-year options. Under the OSE task order, Leidos is charged with supporting life cycle activities for software improvement and web/interface design including design alternatives, user-centered design, development, integration, implementation, and deployment for waterfall, hybrid, and agile methodologies. Under the DCPS task order, Leidos will provide technical knowledge and IT support personnel to help the DCPS program in streamlining and simplifying the disability claims process.

Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship Application to Open Soon

The application process for the State Department’s 2019 Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship is expected to begin in the next few weeks. The fellowship is intended to increase the diversity of Information Management Specialists (IMS) serving in the U.S. Foreign Service. The fellowship is open to U.S. citizens pursuing either an undergraduate or graduate degree in an IT-related field. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive an appointment as a Foreign Service IMS. The program lasts for two years and includes two summer internships. The first internship is in the United States and the second is conducted overseas. For more information, visit the fellowship’s website.

McCaul Calls on Senate to Pass DHS Reorganization Bill

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, issued a statement today urging the Senate to pass bills surrounding the reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity and infrastructure protection-related functions. “The House has passed bipartisan bills to protect our digital networks from cyber intruders—including nation states, hackers, and cybercriminals—who are relentless in their pursuit to target our election and other critical infrastructure. I encourage the Senate to take up these key measures quickly so we can to provide the direction and support needed to best combat an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape to keep the American people and our democracy safe and secure,” said McCaul. McCaul sponsored H.R. 3359, which elevates the DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and renames the agency the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). His statement also called on the Senate to approve H.R. 2825, which reauthorizes DHS, and H.R. 5074, which codifies DHS’ cyber incident response teams.

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