This is the thirty-fourth in a series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the subsequent blogs describes described the actions taken by various government agencies to implement the Cyber EO from June 2021through January 2024.  This blog describes key actions taken to implement the Cyber EO, as well as the U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy, during February 2024.  It also describes key actions taken during February 2024 to implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence (the “AI EO”), particularly its provisions that impact cybersecurity, secure software, and federal government contractors. 

NIST Publishes Cybersecurity Framework 2.0

            On February 26, 2024, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) published version 2.0 of its Cybersecurity Framework.  The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF” or “Framework”) provides a taxonomy of high-level cybersecurity outcomes that can be used by any organization, regardless of its size, sector, or relative maturity, to better understand, assess, prioritize, and communicate its cybersecurity efforts.  CSF 2.0 makes some significant changes to the Framework, particularly in the areas of Governance and Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management (“C-SCRM”).  Covington’s Privacy and Cybersecurity group has posted a blog that discusses CSF 2.0 and those changes in greater detail.

NTIA Requests Comment Regarding “Open Weight”

Dual-Use Foundation AI Models

            Also on February 26, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) published a request for comments on the risks, benefits, and possible regulation of “dual-use foundation models for which the model weights are widely available.”  Among other questions raised by NTIA in the document are whether the availability of public model weights could pose risks to infrastructure or the defense sector.  NTIA is seeking comments in order to prepare a report that the AI EO requires by July 26, 2024 on the risks and benefits of private companies making the weights of their foundational AI models publicly available.  NTIA’s request for comments notes that “openness” or “wide availability” are terms without clear definition, and that “more information [is] needed to detail the relationship between openness and the wide availability of both model weights and open foundation models more generally.”  NTIA also requests comments on potential regulatory regimes for dual-use foundation models with widely available model weights, as well as the kinds of regulatory structures “that could deal with not only the large scale of these foundation models, but also the declining level of computing resources needed to fine-tune and retrain them.”

GSA Urges Agencies Using Federal Tech Modernization

Funds to Request Proposals for AI Services and Products

            On February 8, 2024, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) Technology Modernization Fund (“TMF”) issued a call for proposals from federal agencies to use TMF funding for purchasing AI products and services.  Agency proposals seeking $6 million or less and having a project timeline not greater than 1.5 years “will receive an expedited review process for investment in an effort to help agencies achieve positive outcomes and impact quickly.”  GSA’s notice states that all proposals must include a clear path for user testing, risk mitigation, evaluation metrics, and senior executive support, but also notes that “agencies have flexibility in how they approach their project and potential solutions.”  GSA’s notice also states that agencies submitting proposals for TMF funding of purchases of AI products and services should expect to repay TMF a minimum of 50 percent of their investment over five years.

NIST Publishes Guidance on Applying SSDF

Principles to Cloud Application Software

            On February 12, 2024, NIST issued SP 800-2040, which provides guidance on how to apply NIST’s Secure Software Development Framework (“SSDF”) to the development of cloud-based application software.  The publication notes that such applications are “generally developed through an agile software development life cycle (SDLC) paradigm called Dev Sec Ops, which uses flow processes called continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD).”  NIST states that the overall goal of the new publication is to “ensure that the CI/CD pipeline activities that take source code through the build, test, package, and development stage are not compromised.”  The publication is notable because it has historically been difficult to defense the specific requirements for SBOMs that relate to cloud products, in part because cloud products are continuously changing, and in part because cloud products have a number of inherited security dependencies.

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Photo of Robert Huffman Robert Huffman

Bob Huffman represents defense, health care, and other companies in contract matters and in disputes with the federal government and other contractors. He focuses his practice on False Claims Act qui tam investigations and litigation, cybersecurity and supply chain security counseling and compliance…

Bob Huffman represents defense, health care, and other companies in contract matters and in disputes with the federal government and other contractors. He focuses his practice on False Claims Act qui tam investigations and litigation, cybersecurity and supply chain security counseling and compliance, contract claims and disputes, and intellectual property (IP) matters related to U.S. government contracts.

Bob has leading expertise advising companies that are defending against investigations, prosecutions, and civil suits alleging procurement fraud and false claims. He has represented clients in more than a dozen False Claims Act qui tam suits. He also represents clients in connection with parallel criminal proceedings and suspension and debarment.

Bob also regularly counsels clients on government contracting supply chain compliance issues, including cybersecurity, the Buy American Act/Trade Agreements Act (BAA/TAA), and counterfeit parts requirements. He also has extensive experience litigating contract and related issues before the Court of Federal Claims, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, federal district courts, the Federal Circuit, and other federal appellate courts.

In addition, Bob advises government contractors on rules relating to IP, including government patent rights, technical data rights, rights in computer software, and the rules applicable to IP in the acquisition of commercial items and services. He handles IP matters involving government contracts, grants, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), and Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs).

Photo of Susan B. Cassidy Susan B. Cassidy

Ms. Cassidy represents clients in the defense, intelligence, and information technologies sectors.  She works with clients to navigate the complex rules and regulations that govern federal procurement and her practice includes both counseling and litigation components.  Ms. Cassidy conducts internal investigations for government…

Ms. Cassidy represents clients in the defense, intelligence, and information technologies sectors.  She works with clients to navigate the complex rules and regulations that govern federal procurement and her practice includes both counseling and litigation components.  Ms. Cassidy conducts internal investigations for government contractors and represents her clients before the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), Inspectors General (IG), and the Department of Justice with regard to those investigations.  From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Cassidy served as in-house counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, supporting both defense and intelligence programs. Previously, Ms. Cassidy held an in-house position with Motorola Inc., leading a team of lawyers supporting sales of commercial communications products and services to US government defense and civilian agencies. Prior to going in-house, Ms. Cassidy was a litigation and government contracts partner in an international law firm headquartered in Washington, DC.

Photo of Ashden Fein Ashden Fein

Ashden Fein advises clients on cybersecurity and national security matters, including crisis management and incident response, risk management and governance, government and internal investigations, and regulatory compliance.

For cybersecurity matters, Mr. Fein counsels clients on preparing for and responding to cyber-based attacks, assessing…

Ashden Fein advises clients on cybersecurity and national security matters, including crisis management and incident response, risk management and governance, government and internal investigations, and regulatory compliance.

For cybersecurity matters, Mr. Fein counsels clients on preparing for and responding to cyber-based attacks, assessing security controls and practices for the protection of data and systems, developing and implementing cybersecurity risk management and governance programs, and complying with federal and state regulatory requirements. Mr. Fein frequently supports clients as the lead investigator and crisis manager for global cyber and data security incidents, including data breaches involving personal data, advanced persistent threats targeting intellectual property across industries, state-sponsored theft of sensitive U.S. government information, and destructive attacks.

Additionally, Mr. Fein assists clients from across industries with leading internal investigations and responding to government inquiries related to the U.S. national security. He also advises aerospace, defense, and intelligence contractors on security compliance under U.S. national security laws and regulations including, among others, the National Industrial Security Program (NISPOM), U.S. government cybersecurity regulations, and requirements related to supply chain security.

Before joining Covington, Mr. Fein served on active duty in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence officer and prosecutor specializing in cybercrime and national security investigations and prosecutions — to include serving as the lead trial lawyer in the prosecution of Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning for the unlawful disclosure of classified information to Wikileaks.

Mr. Fein currently serves as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Photo of Ryan Burnette Ryan Burnette

Ryan Burnette advises defense and civilian contractors on federal contracting compliance and on civil and internal investigations that stem from these obligations. Ryan has particular experience with clients that hold defense and intelligence community contracts and subcontracts, and has recognized expertise in national…

Ryan Burnette advises defense and civilian contractors on federal contracting compliance and on civil and internal investigations that stem from these obligations. Ryan has particular experience with clients that hold defense and intelligence community contracts and subcontracts, and has recognized expertise in national security related matters, including those matters that relate to federal cybersecurity and federal supply chain security. Ryan also advises on government cost accounting, FAR and DFARS compliance, public policy matters, and agency disputes. He speaks and writes regularly on government contracts and cybersecurity topics, drawing significantly on his prior experience in government to provide insight on the practical implications of regulations.

Photo of Matthew Harden Matthew Harden

Matthew Harden is a litigation associate in the firm’s New York office and advises on a broad range of cybersecurity, data privacy, and national security matters, including cybersecurity incident response, cybersecurity and privacy compliance obligations, internal investigations, and regulatory inquiries.