Sen. Gary Peters asks White House to launch a coronavirus website

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  • With more and more coronavirus prevention measures taking place, one lawmaker thinks the Trump administration should launch a website, dedicated to providing information to the public. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, suggesting the White House launch a coronavirus government website to provide trusted guidance to public health officials, health care providers, and the public to better contain the spread of coronavirus. He’s concerned about the amount of mixed messaging and misinformation, hindering the government’s ability to effectively communicate. (Sen. Gary Peters)
  • A Homeland Security office building in Washington state is closed due to coronavirus concerns. DHS acting Secretary Chad Wolf says he ordered the closure and cleaning of the building. This comes after an employee of the facility visited a nursing home in Washington at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the state. All employees who feel well enough should telework. Those who feel sick have been asked to quarantine for two weeks. Wolf says employees will get paid whether they’re teleworking or not. (Federal News Network)
  • New rules for federal building security are on the way. The General Services Administration is proposing to have agency tenants be responsible for choosing how to implement physical security assessments. The Interagency Security Committee evaluates each building through the Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities. GSA wants the tenant to decide how best deploy counter measures and other physical security actions. GSA says it will still make sure any security upgrades are completed. Comments on the proposed rule are due by early May.
  • This time OMB is serious about agencies moving to a new internet protocol. After missing deadlines in 2008, 2012 and 2014, agencies are about to receive new mandates to move to internet protocol version 6 or IPv6. The Office of Management and Budget released a draft memo outlining a five-year march to get a majority of all technology on IPv6. Suzette Kent, the federal CIO, says agencies are in danger of being left behind industry if they don’t make the transition. In the short term, agencies will have to test IPv6 on one operational system by the end of fiscal 2021. And then by 2025, at least 80 percent of all IP-enabled devices must be on this advanced protocol. Comments on the draft memo are due in early April.
  • There are more judges at the Board of Veterans Appeals then there have been in nearly 90 years. Veterans Affairs hired seven new veterans law judges. VA says the new hires will help the board process all legacy appeals by 2022. The board says it issued a record number of decisions and held a record number of hearings in 2019. The chairman of the board recommends a list of candidates to the VA secretary. The secretary then appoints veterans law judges to the board, with final approval from the president. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The Defense Department promises to add more provisions to the tenant bill of rights that it left out of its original version. The Pentagon’s sustainment chief says DoD is talking to housing companies to add a dispute resolution process, the ability to withhold rent during a resolution and to access to a house’s maintenance history. Lawmakers and tenants say those are the most important provisions because they pack the most punch. DoD says it did not want to unilaterally add the provisions without first negotiating with the housing companies. (Federal News Network)
  • DoD is launching a deep dive study into the number of companies producing hypersonic weapons, to make sure it is looking at more than just the prime companies. The Pentagon will issue the initial report in the next few months, and will continue studying the industrial base since DoD is investing heavily in hypersonic weapons to stay ahead of new-peer competitors like China and Russia.
  • We get an update on staffing of the new U.S. Space Force 75 days after its creation. Military.com reports Maj. Gen. Clinton Crosier, leader of the Space Force, said it now has built a staff of about 110 of about 200 that it needs at headquarters. The new branch has also narrowed down a list of 16 military job specialties that it will own.
  • The Army says it’s implementing new procedures to screen incoming recruits for coronavirus. The changes took effect yesterday. The 1,000 recruits that come into the Army’s basic training centers each week will have their temperatures taken. They’ll also be asked new questions about any recent travel to Asia, health symptoms, and whether they’ve been exposed to anyone who has the virus. Army officials say they’ve also been training personnel on bases that accept incoming recruits on how to spot the virus’ symptoms. (Federal News Network)
  • The Trump administration recognized over 200 teams and individuals with annual Gears of Government awards. The Office of Management and Budget them from across multiple agencies for exceptional customer service and mission results. The president will choose a select group of Gear recipients for the *President’s Award* in the coming months.
  • The General Services Administration will extend its Centers of Excellence initiative in partnership with GAO to accelerate operational readiness of their Innovation Lab. GSA will expedite the lab’s authority to operate its infrastructure and data science applications in a commercial cloud. GAO officials envision the lab capabilities eventually reshaping its approach to auditing. (General Services Administration)
  • For the first time in 150 years, the Government Publishing Office has proposed the first major overhaul of congressional document formatting. GPO Director Hugh Halpern told the Committee on House Administration that the agency should publish documents than can be read easily on computer screens and smartphones. The current format uses small typeface and tight spacing, designed to save on paper and printing costs. GPO also now uses digital publishing technology that allows the agency to print new editions of the U.S. Code seven months faster than the legacy system it replaced. (Government Publishing Office)
  • Late on your tax returns? The IRS may use AI to find you. The IRS has had some success using artificial intelligence to target high-income households that haven’t filed their tax returns. The Wall Street Journal reports the agency’s criminal investigations unit now uses data mining tools from the data-mining firm Palantir Technologies to flag potential cases for its officials to investigate. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that continued investment in the IRS’s IT modernization efforts remains critical to implement more of this technology and “bring the IRS into the modern world.”