As the government struggles to hire skilled workers to fend off hackers, cyberattacks on federal agencies are up between 50 and 100 percent in the past year.
A new survey by the Professional Services Council found that at least 28 percent of chief information officers at federal agencies reported an increase in cyberattacks of 51 to 100 percent over the past year.
The increasing threat of cyber hacks against the government isn’t surprising. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office listed federal IT operations as one of the most serious weaknesses in the federal government and in its annual “High Risk” report, the GAO labeled this vulnerability a major threat to national security.
Just last week, the Obama administration announced that Chinese cyber thieves hacked into the Office of Personnel Management’s massive government data system and accessed more than 4 million federal workers’ personal data. ABC News reported that the hackers potentially gained access to some Cabinet member data as well.
In the aftermath of the breach, President Obama called on agencies to ramp up cyber security efforts. However, the problem, according to the PSC survey, is that the government is having trouble recruiting skilled cyber experts.
Some 63 percent of CIOs reported that their agencies were not sufficiently prepared to develop necessary talent. Most cited limited resources and government salaries as obstacles to competing with employers in the private sector.
Commerce Department CIO Steve Cooper said hiring young people is a major challenge. The average age of Commerce employees is about 50 years old, NextGov noted.
The CIOs’ responses are in line with a separate GAO report from earlier this year that found there is a major skills gap within the federal workforce when it comes to IT and cybersecurity.
The cost of insulin used to treat Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to an analysis released this week by the Health Care Cost Institute. Researchers found that the average point-of-sale price increased “from $7.80 a day in 2012 to $15 a day in 2016 for someone using an average amount of insulin (60 units per day).” Annual spending per person on insulin rose from $2,864 to $5,705 over the five-year period. And by 2016, insulin costs accounted for nearly a third of all heath care spending for those with Type 1 diabetes (see the chart below), which rose from $12,467 in 2012 to $18,494.
The partial government shutdown has hit the economy like a hurricane – and not just metaphorically. Analysts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said Tuesday that the shutdown has now cost the economy about $26 billion, close to the average cost of $27 billion per hurricane calculated by the Congressional Budget Office for storms striking the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. From an economic point of view, it’s basically “a self-imposed natural disaster,” CRFB said.
The U.S. could save billions of dollars a year if Medicare were empowered to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, according to a paper published by JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this week. Researchers compared the prices of the top 50 oral drugs in Medicare Part D to the prices for the same drugs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates its own prices and uses a national formulary. They found that Medicare’s total spending was much higher than it would have been with VA pricing.
In 2016, for example, Medicare Part D spent $32.5 billion on the top 50 drugs but would have spent $18 billion if VA prices were in effect – or roughly 45 percent less. And the savings would likely be larger still, Axios’s Bob Herman said, since the study did not consider high-cost injectable drugs such as insulin.