Chairman’s Corner: April 2018

Last week, Patricia and I welcomed our seventh great-grandchild. We are the proud parents of six children who blessed us with 31 grandchildren. We have a large, beautiful family which continues to grow.

I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with all of my children and their spouses in our home state of California last month. We reconnected over cards and delicious food. We laughed and we told stories. As I looked around the table, I noticed a few things. First, all six of my children live in different states, including: California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Virginia. All six of them have pursued different career paths. All six of them studied varying subject matter in school.

All six of them were fortunate enough to grow up in a country where they could pursue any goal they set. It doesn’t matter what state you live in or what industry interests you, there are opportunities for all who are willing to work.

Now, pursuit of goals and dreams do not come easily just because we live in this nation. It’s the exact opposite, really. It requires consistent learning, hard work, and vision. While it may not be easy, it is most certainly possible.

Fly-Ins: In-Person Advocacy Makes a Difference

With digital communications permeating nearly every aspect of our lives and creating ways to feel continuously connected to news, points of view and people, it’s tempting to think that these simple connections just might be enough.  It’s appealing to think that all we need to do to influence the legislative process is to send a text, a tweet, post on social media or write a blog post; however, at the McKeon Group we live by the adage: “all politics is local” because it really is true. Regardless of who is in charge in Washington, DC, making the effort to meet in-person with key players in Congress and the Administration really does matter- especially if you want to advocate for and promote a new policy, or ask for a legislative fix. Planning to visit DC is imperative and we can help.

We believe our clients should meet regularly with members of Congress and their staff as well as Administration officials and engage in traditional “shoe leather advocacy”. Building personal relationships with decision makers is critical if you are serious about accomplishing your agenda. At the McKeon Group, we will do everything we can to make it easy and worthwhile.

As part of our commitment to success, clients can expect a full range of professional services that may include:

  • Strategizing policy plans and identifying priorities
  • Creating messages that will resonate with both Republicans and Democrats
  • Identifying champions and recommending key Members and Administration officials
  • Developing messaging materials and leave-behinds
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Securing meeting space and inviting Members of Congress to speak
  • Conducting training for Boards of Directors, executives and staff
  • Facilitating and providing follow-up to Congressional offices and officials

At the McKeon Group, our goal is to help clients cultivate long lasting relationships and generate bipartisan support to achieve lasting results. Please feel free to contact us to plan your next trip to DC!

How a Little Bureau of Indian Education Program Makes a Big Impact

Among the roughly 2,200 pages of the Consolidated Appropriations Act is a little-known program that has helped families lift themselves out of poverty, improve educational attainment and disrupt the cycle of poverty in tribal areas for decades.

The Family and Child Education (FACE) program is the only federally funded early childhood education program operated through the Bureau of Indian Education. What makes it more unique is that it works with children and families together in a two-generation approach that supports parents in teaching their children. The FACE program recognizes parents as their child’s first and most influential teacher; increases parent participation in their child’s learning and expectations for academic achievement; supports and celebrates the unique cultural and linguistic diversity of each community served; strengthens family-school-community connections; and promotes lifelong learning.

Home-based FACE is an evidence-based, culturally competent implementation of the Parents as Teachers home visiting model. Local community members, many of them graduates of the FACE program themselves, provide the home visits and work with families to increase school readiness and improve parent knowledge of early childhood development and parenting practices. This includes identifying delays and health issues and preventing child abuse and neglect.

The Center-based FACE family literacy and family engagement model, administered by the National Center for Families Learning, is focused on high-quality instruction for children and adults, professional development and evaluation. This unique school-based approach to education provides early childhood education while simultaneously meeting the unmet academic needs of parents. Adult students also learn parenting skills and strategies, which has lasting effects for both generations.

The FACE program works. Annual independent evaluations include among their findings that 78 percent of FACE parents read to their children daily as compared to a national average of 38 percent. This statistic alone speaks volumes to the impact of the program and its lasting benefits. Additional notable results include a reduction in the need for school-aged special education by 50 percent for children who were identified for early childhood special education and FACE parents are more involved in their child’s education and participate in school events, help with homework and serve on school committees- all of which contribute to the disruption of the cycle of poverty for the next generation. Additional impacts on families include economic mobility, such as increased acquisition of GEDs and jobs.

With bipartisan, bicameral backing, the FACE program just received a funding increase for the second year in a row to expand services to additional tribes. It is heartening to see Congressional recognition for this small but mighty program.

Cybersecurity: A Way Forward

The Here and Now of Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity industry is rapidly changing and continues to be at the forefront of national security discussions. It is evident there is an upward trend of defensive measures, capabilities, and tactics used to stop the various risks that exist in the cyber space. Unfortunately, attackers and threats are generally one or two steps ahead. It is the responsibility of cybersecurity companies and practices to understand and operate new defensive measures and identify and implement threat-resistant capabilities.


One of the defining factors in cybersecurity history has been the understanding and appreciation of differences between state and non-state actors. In recent years, these lines have been blurred and fused together to where it is now almost impossible to delineate between a government sponsored cyber-attack or a single hacker in a remote part of the world.

Attacks can be designed similarly and cause the same destruction on networks or systems. What is different about the cyberwarfare landscape versus any other battlefield is that you could be fighting a lone actor, an organized hacking group, a government employee working on behalf of a foreign intelligence agency, or a type of cyber mercenary who is a non-state actor, but is funded by a government organization to help separate themselves from the actions taking place. This is unique for the cyber landscape and requires various levels of attention depending on the attack.

Changes in Cybersecurity

Technology is changing so quickly that you can only really look at the development of cyber capabilities several years at a time. No one knows where technology will go and what direction it will take to get there. Looking into the future, experts believe that the trend may move toward insider threats rather than outside criminals. In this manner, the bad actors would be looking for people with valid access to the network they are targeting rather than trying to work from the outside in.

As cyber threat actors continue to adapt to new defenses, it is imperative that security experts continue to try and stay ahead of ever-changing threat capabilities. To achieve this dominance in the space, cyber security professionals must understand the ground rules and what the hackers are trying to achieve. Most importantly, identify which actions pose the most danger to the network or system. For cyber issues, it is important that organizations address these issues as soon as possible. We have already seen too many companies and government agencies become target to these attacks.

Cybersecurity Solutions

A strong option to the rising number of cybersecurity threats both external and internal is a solution which focuses on endpoint security. This is the basis of a cybersecurity solution by Vir2us, one of McKeon Group’s cybersecurity clients. Vir2us’ product VMunity protects endpoints by securing these endpoints beneath the operating system. VMunity has protocols in place which eliminate insider threats which otherwise could wreak havoc on “traditional” endpoint security software. Using a method of containerization, VMunity creates a “Zero Trust” environment, which isolates and stops threats from spreading. In addition, the VMunity solution is OS agnostic – providing a solution for legacy systems that are often left unprotected on networks.

The Future is Cyber

Governments, corporations, small businesses, and individuals must remain aware and alert to the imposing risks we all face every day by simply logging onto our computers. As we continue to become more and more technologically advanced, these risks will only grow exponentially. It is with that understanding that it remains vital to leaders that cyber continue to be a main subject in our political and national security discourse.

For more information on solutions to the cybersecurity threats that we face please contact:
Wesley Horn

President Trump’s ‘Buy America’ Pitch for Foreign Military Sales

A report released on March 8, 2018 by the Security Assistance Monitor (SAM) program of the Center for International Policy records over $80 billion in U.S. foreign arms sales notifications to Congress during Trump’s first year in office. The Trump Administration total of $82.2 billion for 2017 is slightly higher than Obama Administration’s total of $76.5 billion for 2016. [1]

The major differences in most arms sales offers in 2017 in relation to other years are the types of weapons sold. In President Obama’s last year of office, most of the sales were in the form of military aircraft. To compare, the largest type of arms sales offers under the Trump Administration has been bombs and missiles, primarily driven by major missile defense deals with Saudi Arabia, Poland, Romania, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. [2]

The White House is using its new “Buy American” plan to require U.S. Military attaches and diplomats at U.S. embassy’s around the world to help organize weapons sales, resulting in billions of dollars for the U.S. defense industry. The President wants an entire ‘whole of government’ effort to help ease export rules on U.S. military products. The policy change requires that embassy staffers across the globe become a type of sales force for American defense contractors. Senior government officials said part of this plan will be to adjust the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

There has been a new proposal by the Administration that was first reported back in September of 2017 and portrayed that it would only affect the sale of small weapons systems and ammunition.

The new proposal would transfer oversight by the State Department to sell some weapons like rifles, shotguns and handguns as well as the ammunition for them over to the Commerce Department. Many experts on foreign military sales say, Commerce is an ill prepared bureaucracy and the State Department has the unique ability to review and vet potential foreign customers. [3]

The Trump Administration’s argument is that these changes would benefit America’s allies by allowing them to grow their security cooperation with the United States and increase their own capabilities. It is the Administration’s expectation that with less regulations regarding these sales, it will increase American jobs and provide more publicity to increase foreign allies interest in buying American weaponry.

Under current Congressional procedures any Senator can slow or stall a proposed deal for weapons on the U.S. Munitions List.

Under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Congress must be formally notified 30 calendar days before the Administration can take the final steps to conclude a government-to-government foreign military sale of: major defense equipment valued at $14 million or more, defense articles or services valued at $50 million or more, or design and construction services valued at $200 million or more.

In general, the executive branch, after complying with the terms of applicable U.S. law, principally contained in the AECA, is free to proceed with an arms sales proposal unless Congress passes legislation prohibiting or modifying the proposed sale. Under current law Congress must overcome two fundamental obstacles to block or modify a Presidential sale of military equipment: it must pass legislation expressing its will on the sale, and it must be capable of overriding a presumptive Presidential veto of such legislation.

Congress, however, is free to pass legislation to block or modify any arms sale at any time up to the point of delivery of the items involved.

  1. HaHartung, William. “Trump Makes Over $80 Billion in Major Arms Deals in First Year.” Security Assistance Monitor. March 8, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  2. Hartung, William. “Trump Makes Over $80 Billion in Major Arms Deals in First Year.” Security Assistance Monitor. March 8, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  3. Shinkman, Paul D. “Trump to Speed Up U.S. Arms Sales by Reducing Oversight, Sources Say.” U.S. News & World Report. February 5, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2018.

Chairman’s Corner: March 2018

I recently came across an article that has caused me to think about happiness. The subject matter was uplifting and something I believe is applicable and useful to all of us. The article, written by Travis Bradberry, identified habits of “supremely happy people.”

What Dr. Bradberry wrote has stuck with me because the research he conducted to produce this list of habits is something I have learned for myself to be true. Dr. Brandberry concluded that supremely happy people do each of the following:

  1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.
  2. They exercise.
  3. They spend money on other people.
  4. They surround themselves with the right people.
  5. They stay positive.
  6. They get enough sleep.
  7. They have deep conversations.
  8. They help others.
  9. They make an effort to be happy.
  10. They do things in-person.
  11. They have a growth mindset.

Now, I understand trying to implement eleven different strategies for happiness may be overwhelming. I would argue that this list can serve more as a buffet, where you pick and choose what you want to focus on. There is no question, however, that these habits tend to radiate from happy people. There is no question that it is more enjoyable to be around happy people than unhappy people.

I have experienced failures and success in business and politics. I have passed through trials and lived to see the blessings that come from them. In my nearly 80 years of life, I can honestly say that I have experienced true happiness and joy. I believe that the happy times are in part due to applying these eleven habits.

I know I’m more motivated to choose happiness. The wise words of President Lincoln continue to ring true, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

For more information on each of these habits, see Dr. Bradberry’s full article.

A Renewed Hope for Regular Order

On February 9, 2018, Congress passed the 5th continuing resolution (CR) to fund Federal government operations through March 23. Despite the necessity of this legislation, as good governance would dictate, Congressional support was not overwhelming, with just 59% of the Congress voting to keep the government functioning. Whatever the reasons that led to this near simple majority approval, the 6-week extension of government funding also importantly included a two-year reprieve from the spending caps previously set forth in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). The foresight of these caps adjustments not only nearly guarantees a final disposition on fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding, but also eases the annual, fractious discretionary funding debate that lies ahead for FY 2019.

In what is now politely termed the “Bipartisan Budget Deal of 2018”, BCA spending caps for FY 2018 were increased by $143 billon ($80 billion for defense, $63 billion for non-defense) and $153 billion in FY 2019 ($85 billion for defense, $68 billion for non-defense).  This deal is good for both defense hawks and domestic advocates…and it’s about time. Paradoxically, though, it highlights what has become so regrettable with the Federal appropriations process. Unfortunately, few other levers besides appropriations exist within Congress that can force opposing sides of a debate to the discussion table.

For the 23 weeks leading up to the passage of CR #5, Congress engaged in polarizing, macro-level policy debates that should have been a second, simultaneous debate. Not THE debate. As, they had only a tangential connection with the most basic defense and domestic funding needs for FY 2018. So, finally, this deal does reflect their compromise. The additional funding should provide the fiscal headroom to avoid many of the budget maneuvers that have become a novel art among appropriators to stay within the parameters of the underlying budget resolution. With this budget agreement, Congressional and Executive Branch priorities are now able to be more fully addressed.

Challenges remain in the immediate-term for the Appropriations Committees, however. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.  An omnibus funding package reflecting the newly elevated spending caps will clear Congress within the coming three weeks. House and Senate Appropriators must now quickly allocate the additional $143 billion across the designated budget functions. Seems like a good “problem” to have. However, congressional oversight of agency expenditures relies, in part, on the baseline of the Federal fiscal year, the necessary time-element upon which all budget authority is based. The goal of skillful budget execution, then, is to keep Federal program research, innovation, development, acquisition or implementation immune from these temporal constraints. Agency comptrollers have been challenged for these first 6 months of FY 2018, limping along under the “current rate”, funding levels and instructions prescribed by their respective FY 2017 appropriations measures. Now, they will be equally, yet differently, challenged to responsibly obligate all FY 2018 funding for the final 6 months of this year…and…in accordance with congressional intent.  

It is thus incumbent upon Congress to appropriate these funds with terms and conditions that will enable agencies to successfully execute on their newly granted budget authority. Congress would be well served to remember that these elevated budget adjustments are indeed spending “ceilings” and not spending “floors”.

An infusion of $80 billion for defense programs, for example, with just 6 months left in the fiscal year will require these funds to be apportioned with surgical precision such that the programs will withstand future congressional scrutiny for any perceived “under-execution”. Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX), the distinguished (and first) Chairwoman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has acknowledged the pending challenges now facing the Appropriations Committees and the Defense Department. Referring specifically to the additional $80 billion, Chairwoman Granger recently told Defense News that “Congress must act to fix an ‘artificial deadline,’ or the military risks losing funds afforded by a new budget deal”, saying further that “we certainly don’t want to waste [it] and we don’t want to lose it.” [1] The Chairwoman’s desire to extend the obligation period for new FY 2018 funding very simply captures the essence of the challenge to “use it or lose it.”  

Congress would, again, do well to take this under serious advisement. Doing so could normalize budget execution over the short-term and would provide for greater budget stability as Congress begins to deliberate the FY 2019 budget request. In hindsight, it now appears the recent legislative chaos could have been avoided. But, with defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps now set for FY 2019, let’s hope that the comity that [finally] prevailed in the Bipartisan Budget Deal leads to regular order with the upcoming budget and appropriations cycles.

  1. Goud, Joe. “Let Pentagon carry over FY18 budget boost so money isn’t wasted, key lawmaker says.” Defense News. February 22, 2018.

Bipartisan Budget Act Includes Major Initiatives for Children and Families

In the early morning hours of February 9, Congress finalized H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The bill has implications for all parts of government, most notably its impact on the federal budget for the next two years.

For stakeholders in the early childhood arena, Congress included multiple bipartisan deals that will significantly impact children and families. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program was reauthorized for five years at level funding. MIECHV is a bipartisan program that delivers evidence-based home visiting to at-risk families across the country as a two-generation strategy to disrupt poverty, prevent child abuse and strengthen new families.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was extended for six years on January 19, received an additional four-year extension in the Bipartisan Budget Act, bringing the total extension to ten years at an estimated savings of $5 billion to taxpayers.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant received a commitment to doubling funding to $5.8 billion. That historical funding increase would extend access to high quality child care to an estimated 364,800 additional eligible families over the next two years.

Finally, the Bipartisan Budget Act enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). Family First will provide evidence-based prevention services to children at risk of foster care, target resources toward foster youth who are new parents and prioritize placements with kin when foster care is inevitable. Family First has received increased attention as one part of the solution to the opioid epidemic.

These programs, negotiated in a bipartisan, bicameral manner over the past months reflect how Congress can reach agreement, and the Bipartisan Budget Act was the timely legislative vehicle  that moved the programs over the finish line.  

Chairman McKeon to Receive Silver Spur Award

Chairman McKeon will be honored with the esteemed Silver Spur award for his contributions to the Santa Clarita Valley community on Saturday, March 24th.

The Silver Spur Award is presented to an individual who has served the community in an exemplary way. Chairman McKeon has served the Santa Clarita Valley for over fifty years as a successful businessman, community leader, and elected official.

Chairman McKeon will be recognized for the work he has done within the SCV community, career achievements, and advocacy for education.

On the night of the event, cocktails will be served at 6:00 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7:00 p.m in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Air Force One Pavilion.

Additional information on the schedule of events, location, and attire can be found here.                    Those interested in placing a tribute in the event’s program, click here.                                                    Ticket prices and information can be found here.

Chairman’s Corner: February 2018

I was recently asked to write a piece on cybersecurity for the Washington Times. Below is my article:

‘Zero Trust’ computer policy: A timely solution

Challenges posed by cybercrime are one of the most frightening threats our country faces today.

In recent years, we have had a reactive approach to cybersecurity. We hear about it when an organization has been hacked or sensitive information has been released. Organizations, companies and our government agencies should not simply be reacting when a cybercrime has taken place, but instead need to be proactive.

In order to be proactive, however, the main challenge from which all other cybersecurity issues stem needs to be identified. The United States, along with the entire world, is seeing a global cyber catastrophe that is causing us to reconsider how to establish a network defense. Now more than ever, cybercriminals have access to advanced technologies that put people at risk. That means our government agencies need to establish better defenses.

We have heard of retailers, financial institutions and health care organizations experiencing major hacks, which is why it was disheartening to see that in the 2017 U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, government institutions were listed among the “bottom performers,” scoring lower than retail, health care and information services. I believe that is due to a misidentification of the underlying cybersecurity problem.

The real problem stems from an outdated “computer architecture” that was developed without knowing how today’s cyber connection would look and operate. This obsolete foundation is essentially why cybersecurity attacks take place.

Our defenses are no match for these security breaches. Our computer architecture has reached its ceiling. There was no way the developers and engineers who designed it 40 years ago could have envisioned how the internet and the impact of global connection would have facilitated such cyberthreats. The demand for an increase in computing capabilities and programs overshadowed the computer architecture with the development of the internet.

I have had the opportunity to work alongside experts within the cybersecurity industry who also believe the computer architecture is the main issue at hand. Ed Brinskele, the CEO of Vir2us, has said that IT professionals are dependent on what the “experts” determine are the best practices or defenses for cybersecurity.

“The difficulty is that there has been a significant failure on the part of solutions providers to recognize that a keeping-the-bad-guys-out approach reveals a failure to correctly identify the problem,”  Mr. Brinskele said. “Once the checkpoints in these solutions are bypassed, they provide virtually no security. This is known as an outside-in and top-down approach and is a fundamentally flawed strategy. As a result, these solutions only addressthe symptoms of a much more fundamental design problem.”

To address these newfound security challenges, antivirus and firewalls were created to provide somewhat of a Band-Aid. These solutions are not good enough to combat the technology that is available to cybercriminals.

Our outdated architecture is a sinking ship. There are a number of holes in the boat, and we keep trying to patch it up instead of rebuilding it so we can float. These patches include heuristic algorithms and whitelisting, but even these solutions continue to fail. They simply cannot withstand the constant and ever-changing threats.

Additionally, it is virtually impossible to attempt to pinpoint threats from a list-based strategy. Every day, these lists evolve and develop. There is no way to stay current on possible threats or attacks.

“Antivirus and firewalls are list-based solutions and can only deal with known threats. In today’s world of morphing viruses and malware, these solutions are less than 27 percent effective,” Mr. Brinskele continued. “[A leading consumer cybersecurity firm] recently said that their average time to identify threats and update lists is more than nine months. In a challenge that is moving at the speed of light this is problematic. While combating challenges moving at the speed of light, that solution is unacceptable.”

Not only do these outdated solutions consistently fail, they are also extremely inefficient. It has been reported that these “legacy solutions” can consume up to 80 percent of network bandwidth capacity and computer processing power. These inefficiencies negatively impact revenue and productivity. According to the U.S. Government, global business and institutions lose over $1 trillion to fending off cybercrimes and attacks annually.

Rather than trying to fend off possible attacks, implementing a “Zero Trust” policy or architecture would be significantly more practical and successful than fighting to stay current on a list of emerging threats. With a Zero Trust architecture, the “Known” list is manageable and can be maintained.

As cyberthreats continue to unfold, we need to take a hard look and consider improving our computer architecture. A new approach and a radical change within the cybersecurity industry needs to take place in order to provide dynamic security.