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Coronavirus data remains scant

Up-to-date information on the coronavirus — such as testing, infection rates, details on deaths and hospital capacity — is critical to understanding the impact of the virus and responding to it. But federal agencies have made very little real-time data on the impact of the pandemic publicly available so far. Experts told FedScoop this lack of transparency for months after the disease first came to the U.S. has clouded views on how the government is collecting data from hospitals and state and local governments. “People need to understand what is happening,” said one expert about the importance of data transparency and communication during a crisis. Jackson Barnett dives into federal data sharing efforts..

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DOD cyber hygiene needs improvement

With one of the largest workforces in the world, the Department of Defense faces some challenges in sharpening the basic cybersecurity skills of its personnel to defend against the most common and pervasive cybersecurity risks. A new Government Accountability Office report details the department missing several deadlines to implement a variety of cybersecurity initiatives and a critical lack of accountability among DOD leadership for cyber hygiene. “Overall, until DOD completes its cyber hygiene initiatives and ensures that cyber practices are implemented, the department will face an enhanced risk of successful attack,” the report states. More from the report.

Lawmakers propose a DOD STEM Corps

And, speaking of cyber-savvy personnel at the DOD: A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to create a stream of STEM talent for the department by offering tuition assistance in exchange for their service. Two years of tuition coverage would go to graduates who work four years at the DOD in good standing. Other perks include the potential to work for one of those years with an “industry partner,” according to a release from the bill’s co-sponsors, Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Andy Kim, D-N.J. Jackson has this one.

Esri portal shares COVID data with FEMA

The mapping and geospatial data company Esri announced Monday that it’s been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency the past three weeks to develop a new software platform that the federal agency and its partners across all levels of government can use to share data in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Esri executives told StateScoop the new platform is similar to the public COVID-19 GIS Hub the company recently launched, except that it contains additional data sources contributed by FEMA-partner agencies such as state and local emergency management agencies and public health departments. Read it on StateScoop.

Hackers file fake tax returns in scheme to steal IRS refunds

With the nation dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus, tax frauds aren’t letting up in their attempt to scam the IRS. Attackers tried obtaining large tax refunds by posing as clients of Weber and Company, the California-based accounting firm revealed last week. Social Security numbers and bank account numbers were among the data potentially compromised. The number of attempted IRS scams tends to increase every year in March and April in the U.S., as legions of crooks try to steal Americans’ refunds. Sean Lyngaas has more on CyberScoop.

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