Feasibility study underway for rail transit in Los Angeles County

California-The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is conducting a feasibility study to identify and evaluate a range of high-capacity rail transit alternatives between the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles International Airport. In addition to the study, which began in December 2017, Metro is hosting a series of community meetings to solicit input. The study is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2019 and will be the basis for future environmental analysis.

 

The route proposed for the project experiences heavy travel with more than 400,000 people a day traveling through the area. Funding will come from Measure M, a transportation sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2016. The project will receive $9.8 billion from this sales tax funding. The LA Metro wants to expedite the project through a public-private partnership. The first stage of the project is expected to open in 2033, however, the goal is to have it open for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Maryland Comptroller seeks RFP for $100M tax system

Maryland– The Maryland Office of the Comptroller is seeking proposals for a $100-million-dollar job to replace the 25-year-old tax processing system. The office released a request for proposals (RFP) with bids due by June 1. The goal is to have a contract before the state’s Board of Public Works in September. The plan is to replace the office tax processing system as well as its collection system.

 

There was an incident in 2016 where the comptroller’s office discovered that $21 million of local income tax had been misdirected going back to 2010. The comptroller’s office collected the proper amount of revenue, but some taxpayers were not classified in the correct taxing districts causing tax revenue to be distributed to the wrong municipalities. The RFP requires that vendors have contracts in at least six other states to qualify.

DOE releases RFP for $1.8B exascale supercomputers

Washington D.C.– U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has announced a request for proposals (RFP), potentially worth up to $1.8 billion, for the development of two new exascale supercomputers for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories. The timeframe is between 2021 and 2023 to complete the computers. The new supercomputers funded through this RFP will be follow-on systems to the first U.S. exascale system named Aurora, which is currently under development at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and scheduled to come online in 2021. The RFP also envisions the possibility of upgrades or even a follow-on system to the Aurora supercomputer in 2022-2023.

 

The new systems will provide 50 to 100 times greater performance than the current, fastest U.S. supercomputer. Funding for the RFP is being provided jointly by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The Office of Science and NNSA are also partners in the Department’s Exascale Computing Project. The plan is to deploy one of the systems to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the other at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

Cyber threats impact everyone! Is it time for citizens and taxpayers to get more involved?

Cyber stalkers present serious threats to businesses, governmental entities and organizations of all types. The ever-present danger is said to be increasing at an alarming pace, and because the aftermath of any cyberattack is so devastating and costly, technology changes are occurring at a dizzying pace. In spite of that, most citizens do not believe that current cyber security efforts are adequate.

According to a recent study, 50 percent of state and local governments experienced six to 25 breaches in the prior 24 months, and 12 percent experienced more than 25 breaches. The federal government will spend approximately $17 billion to enhance cyber security in 2017 but state and local governments are being forced to address the same threats with much less when it comes to funding and resources. In a recent survey, 80 percent of state chief information officers (CIOs) indicated that the lack of funding for cyber security is their top challenge.

In spite of restrained resources, public officials at the state levels of government are currently involved in, or discussing and planning, cyber security enhancement projects. The National Governors Association (NGA) is trying to help and has issued recommendations for a number of basic actions that should be initiated.

The organization is urging governors and state legislators to analyze the cost and benefits of cyber security and to move beyond reliance on regulatory processes, the most common ways states have addressed cyber threats in the past.  The suggestions for immediate action are interesting and helpful, but cyber security experts urge government leaders to do much more.

For instance, many states are investing in more data security training for state employees. And, it’s obvious that employees cannot perform well as the first line of defense if they are not painfully aware of the dangers of neglect or haste or inattention when dealing with critical information and network security. Security protocols should be standardized and monitored continually but old networks and legacy technology are almost like sitting ducks on a pond for cyber stalkers.

Private-sector firms own and operate 85 percent of critical infrastructure in the United States and some, but not all, rely on world-class technology experts to keep their data networks safe. State officials don’t have the funding to attract and retain world-class cyber security talent.  As a result, almost all engage private-sector firms to help them address cyber threats. Interestingly enough, though, private-sector firms may be less interested in contracting with governmental entities. Demand for technology talent is so great that many companies are making their greatest efforts in the commercial sector.

Government procurement for goods and services has always been a lengthy process but that must change. Some public entities are addressing streamlining the acquisition process and that is particularly encouraging. Changes must occur or private-sector firms will lose interest in providing the best talent and technology advances to government.

Government leaders are particularly focusing on power grids, utility cooperatives, transportation and water security. Governors have been urged to ensure adequate protection to even the smallest communities because so many are vulnerable. Cyber stalkers with even low levels of expertise are attracted to susceptible targets.

Taxpayers and citizens realize the risks but few individuals feel the need to reach out to elected officials and express their concerns. If ever there was a time for individuals to let their elected officials know of their concern for cyber security, surely it is now.