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.

VA Establishes Office of EHR Modernization

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) IT modernization push continues to gain steam. On the same day the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee officially approved the creation of a new Technology Modernization Subcommittee, the VA announced the establishment of the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM). Officially launched late last month, OEHRM is tasked with managing the preparation, deployment, and maintenance of the VA’s new $10 billion electronic health record system, as well as all of the health information technology tools associated with it. Genevieve Morris, who is currently detailed to VA from her position as the principal deputy national coordinator for the Department of Health and Human Services, was tapped to lead the new office. According to a release, OEHRM will work closely with the VA’s Under Secretary of Health and CIO.

NICE Announces DHS Grant for Cyber Education

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education today posted a notice that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is offering a new grant that “provides funding to develop and distribute K-12 cybersecurity, STEM, and computer science curricula to educators across the country.” The grant also supports “engagement strategies” targeting the expansion of cyber education programs. “Increasing the number of graduates of cyber and STEM disciplines is an important element in the development of our national cybersecurity workforce,” DHS said. The grant offers a single award of $4.3 million. Eligible applicants include non-profits with 501(c)(3) status, other than institutions of higher education. Applications must be received by August 3.

Sens. Gardner, Wyden Urge DoJ Investigation Into Cyber Harassment

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., have urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to instruct the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of cyber harassment directed towards military families. According to a press release, a group that called itself the “Cyber Caliphate” launched an intimidation campaign, including death threats and attempted hackings, against several U.S. military spouses in 2015. The letter to Sessions explains that the Cyber Caliphate is aligned with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State. “This story would be cause for concern if it ended there but many cyber security researchers now say the Cyber Caliphate is merely a front for APT28, the infamous group of hackers who serve the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the senators wrote. “Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have publicly identified APT28 as ‘Russian civilian and military intelligence services.’” According to Wyden and Gardner, if there is truly a link between APT28 and the Cyber Caliphate, this would be the “first public evidence that influence operations have specifically targeted American military families.”

Army Futures Command Finds Its Home in Austin

The U.S. Army announced on Friday that its new Army Futures Command (AFC) will be headquartered in Austin. The AFC, which began operations on July 1, will lead the Army’s “future force modernization enterprise,” according to a press release. The command will assess the future operational environment, emerging threats, and innovative technologies. The Army cited local academic institutions and a thriving technology sector for why it chose Austin for the new AFC.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.