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 Wall Street Journal reports that the tax cuts and economic environment are prompting U.S. companies to go on a buying binge: “Mergers and acquisitions announced by U.S. acquirers so far in 2018 are running at the highest dollar volume since the first two months of 2000, according to Dealogic. Thomson Reuters, which publishes slightly different numbers, puts it at the highest since the start of 2007.”
Health care spending in the U.S. will grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent from 2017 through 2026, according to new estimates published in Health Affairs by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The projections mean that health care spending would rise as a share of the economy from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent in 2026.
Margot Sanger-Katz and Jim Tankersley in The New York Times: “The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health care-related taxes.”
“Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.”
Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies to pursue “inactive tax receivables,” but the financial results are not encouraging so far, according to a new taxpayer advocate report out Wednesday.
In fiscal year 2017, the IRS received $6.7 million from taxpayers whose debts were assigned to private collection agencies, but the agencies were paid $20 million – “three times the amount collected,” the report helpfully points out.