News in Brief

White House wants fewer reports, USDA approves ArcGIS and GAO knocks info security

stack of papers

White House wants Congress to cut back on reporting requirements

New appropriations and laws typically come with requests from congressional committees directing executive agencies to provide written reports explaining the implementation of policies, the costs of programs, or data that provides the basis for policies.

These reporting requirements frequently outlive their usefulness, cost too much to produce, become unfunded as appropriations change, or overlap with similar reports. But they still take up the time and effort of government employees. Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is asking Congress to relieve agencies of 74 reports.

One of these is a report on major acquisitions that, OMB says, overlaps with the IT Dashboard. Cobert also wants to do away with an annual survey on astronaut health care because, according to the cryptic wording of an accompanying spreadsheet, "the results of these surveys do not indicate systemic issues that warrant further study or investigation and suggests that the precipitating incident was an isolated case."

Cobert's plan to phase out "outdated and duplicative" reports tracks closely with bills in Congress that would consolidate or eliminate hundreds of federal agency reports.

USDA certifies Esri mapping platform

The Department of Agriculture has certified Esri's ArcGIS Online mapping platform as meeting key cloud-security standards. USDA granted the service a Federal Information Security Management Act low authority to operate, Esri announced June 25.

Many federal agencies use the ArcGIS mapping platform, which has long been available as locally installed software. Other popular cloud-based geospatial services for public-sector use include MapBox and Tableau Software.

GAO questions information security practices

Although reporting mechanisms are in place to ensure that agencies are meeting security and privacy requirements established by OMB and the Department of Homeland Security, the Government Accountability Office found not all agencies are implementing those processes.

Nearly half of small agencies identified by OMB and DHS -- 55 of 129 -- are not reporting the required information. Also, the agencies in GAO’s review have faced challenges in using the guidance and services offered by OMB and DHS.

GAO highlighted the findings of six of the agencies -- specific details of their privacy and security weaknesses will be used for official use only in a restricted report.

Government-wide, however, GAO recommends that OMB report on all small agencies’ implementation of security and privacy requirements, and that DHS develop services and guidance suitable for the risk environment small agencies face.

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