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The Byte

It’s no secret that the White House has lagged behind the rest of the modern world when it comes to embracing newer technology. Even President Obama has expressed frustration with the White House being 30 years behind the curve.

But a lot has changed at the White House since the president made those remarks in 2011. There’s now a dedicated digital team, hackathons, YouTube interviews and Twitter chats with the president. The Washington Post reports that modern technology has arrived and is changing operations at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but former administration officials say more can be done.

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The Freedom of Information Act turns 48 on Independence Day. To celebrate, The New Yorker reveals the story behind the law that has transformed how citizens interact with their government.

Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law with little fanfare on July 4, 1966, but he did release a statement that said, in part, “No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.”

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Some of the most innovative minds around the globe are proving that human-robot systems can be used for disaster response. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to take that work to the next level during the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals set for June 2015.

At least 11 teams will compete for a $2 million prize at the competition in Pomona, Calif. The finals will be tougher than the trials competition, in that robots will not be connected to power cords and humans will not be allowed to physically intervene if a robot falls or gets stuck. Read more about the competition here.

 

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Congress is one step closer to passing legislation that would empower federal CIOs and reform the outdated law that governs IT security.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week approved three bills by voice vote, including the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, which would shift the focus from agencies producing paper-based security reports to continuous monitoring. Here’s FCW’s summary of the bills.

The committee also approved the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which would require CIOs to participate in technology-related budget planning and approve hiring of IT personnel. Federal News Radio reports that the Senate bill "significantly strays from the House version."

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology is reaching out to experts in industry, government and academic to help solve common challenges in the cloud. NIST’s Cloud Computing Program is forming three public working groups to tackle key issues, including software interoperability and data portability in the cloud. Read more about the initiative.

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Do you have lingering questions about 3D printing? If so, the Energy Department has you covered. As part of a new Energy.gov series called How Energy Works, the agency provides a thorough overview of this innovative technology and several interesting facts that are creating quite a buzz. Did you know Oak Ridge National Laboratory is partnering with a company to create the first 3D- printed car? Check out Energy’s synopsis of the technology here.

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What better way to mark 687 days on Mars than with a selfie photograph? NASA released a photo this week marking the accomplishments of the Curiosity Mars rover since it landed on the Red Planet in August 2012. The rover used the camera at the end of its arm to take dozens of action shots that were combined and released to the public. During the Martian year, which is 687 days, the rover completed its primary mission by proving that “Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.”

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The National Park Service has temporarily banned the use of drones at all of its parks, following “serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks,” according to the Washington Post. The agency is trying to figure out a policy that ensures the well-being of park wildlife and visitors, but it could “take considerable time” before that gets sorted out.

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