Thousands of Google employees protest working with the Pentagon

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  • Thousands of employees at Google voiced their disapproval of working with the Defense Department in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, obtained by The New York Times. the employees asked Pichai to cancel Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program to automate analysis of images captured by drones using Google technology. Over 3,100 employees signed the letter and also want Pichai to announce a company policy that they will never help build warfare technology. (New York Times)
  • The IRS wants to improve its relationships with industry. The agency held its second annual reverse industry day last week to hear about contracting hurdles from vendors. It said it is looking to dispel industry concerns that it only contracts with companies it has worked with previously. The IRS is one of at least four agencies to hold reverse industry days. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sailors in the higher enlisted ranks will now have to take a Professional Military Knowledge Eligibility Exam to advance to the next paygrade. The exam consists of one hundred questions on leadership, career information, professional conduct, Navy heritage and seamanship. Sailors must get a score of 80 percent or higher in each topic to pass. (U.S. Navy)
  • Several of the Army’s senior uniformed cyber officials are headed for new jobs. The service announced several new assignments for its top uniformed cyber officials on Wednesday. Brig. Gen. Maria Barrett, who had been the deputy director of operations at U.S. Cyber Command will be the new commander of the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM). Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. David Isaacson, previously the CIO at Army Forces Command, is taking on the assignment of director of architecture, operations, networks and space at Army headquarters. Brig. Gen. Richard Angle, formerly the deputy commander of the Army’s 1st Special Forces Command will be the new deputy commander for operations at Army Cyber Command. (Department of Defense)
  • A group of Democratic lawmakers asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to explain whether he got a favorable rental agreement for a condo. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), along with Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), asked Pruitt to clarify how much he paid to rent a D.C. condo owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of an energy lobbyist, and if EPA staff were involved in negotiating the condo deal. ABC News first reported that Pruitt paid a little as $50 a day for the condo. (Sen. Tom Udall)
  • Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie spoke to Veterans Affairs Department employees for the first time, saying he wants them to value customer service. He said good customer services starts with listening and talking to each other. Wilkie said energy and good ideas must start from the VA employees who are closest to the veterans they serve. President Trump asked Wilkie to move from the Defense Department to VA to lead the agency in the interim after David Shulkin was fired from the post. (Department of Veterans Affairs Youtube Channel)
  • The White House is not walking the walk when it comes to website cybersecurity. Twenty-five of 26 website domains run by the White House are not using advanced cybersecurity protections. New research from Global Cyber Alliance found that, and several others have not fully implemented the Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance or DMARC protocol. Last October, DHS mandated every agency fully implement DMARC by February. The only White House site to use all of the protection capabilities of DMARC is the portal. (Global Cyber Alliance)
  • The Office of Personnel Management reminded agencies to continuously communicate with job applicants throughout the hiring process. OPM Associate Director for Employee Services Mark Reinhold said members of Congress are concerned agencies are not doing so. OPM said agencies should at least touch base with applicants when they receive an application, after the qualification assessment, and during the final decision. Reinhold heard those concerns at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing last month. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • OMB put agencies on alert to guard against fraud or improper payments when awarding almost $85 billion in emergency appropriations. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney issued a memo telling agencies to strengthen internal control plans, oversight of improper payments and accounting for grants. In the fiscal 2018 omnibus bill, Congress allocated $84.4 billion in supplemental funding to respond to and recover from recent hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. (White House)
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency said recent lessons it learned from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria informed its new strategic plan. FEMA says it is sending a new message to its federal, state, and local partners, asking the be better prepared to manage future disasters, so FEMA can be better positioned for the catastrophic events. The agency said it is also testing new ways to make its current assistance programs easier to use and understand. (Federal News Radio)
  • FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb outlined a multipronged new approach to the opioid epidemic. In a speech to a prescription drug abuse summit, Gottlieb said FDA will extend its analytics of prescription patterns in its Sentinal database to Medicare and pediatric databases, and make the results public. He calls for mandatory opioid prescription training for doctors, and a national electronic prescription platform to manage chronic users. Gottlieb said FDA will collaborate with federal law enforcement to prevent importing of illicit opioids, and urge internet companies to help staunch the flow. (Food and Drug Administration)