EPA takes another step to fulfill transparency EO

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  • A final rule from the Environmental Protection Agency gives the public a platform to request changes or removal of agency guidance documents. This stems from an executive order President Donald Trump signed last year, calling for increased transparency in agency regulations. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency has launched an online portal showing more than 10,000 active guidance documents. Wheeler said the agency also rescinded about a thousand guidance documents earlier this year. (House Transportation Committee)
  • The Thrift Savings Plan is preparing for a major overhaul of its recordkeeping systems, financial management systems and IT services next year. The plan said it will soon announce awards associated with its recordkeeping services acquisition. The acquisition will change the way the TSP helps its participants prepare for retirement. It’ll also give the TSP new ways to communicate with participants. The agency will eventually launch a mobile app and live chat function. The project will also allow the TSP to accept electronic signatures. The TSP will roll out these new tools and services over the course of 2021 and 2022.
  • A data breach at the Department of Veterans Affairs exposed personal information for 46,000 veterans. VA said unauthorized users got access to one of its systems, changed financial information and diverted medical payments from the department to community care health providers. The department couldn’t comment on the specific breached system or the exact timing of the incident. VA’s inspector general is investigating the data breach. VA is notifying impacted veterans about what happened. They’ll receive free credit monitoring services. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies are saving hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to one law. New data from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee shows that the Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies or the MEGABYTE Act may just be the most successful federal management bill in the last two-plus decades. The committee found 13 agencies saved or avoided spending more than $450 million dollars between fiscal 2017 and 2019 by better managing software licenses. The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for $145 million dollars of that savings or avoidance, while the Social Security Administration achieved $118 million dollars in savings or avoidance during that two-year time span. (Federal News Network)
  • Homeland Security officials said they seized a shipment of half a million counterfeit N95 masks. Customs and Border Protection identified the fake masks in a shipment from China at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last week. Officials say tests showed the masks didn’t meet the filtration standards required for N95 masks, and could have put front-line health care workers at risk from COVID-19. (Federal News Network)
  • A bill setting minimum security standards for federal Internet of Things devices passes the House. The IOT Cybersecurity Improvement Act would have the National Institute of Standards and Technology set best practices for device security. The Office of Management and Budget would then craft guidance for agencies to meet or exceed those standards. The bill would also require the Department of Homeland Security to publish guidance on coordinated vulnerability disclosures for contractors and vendors. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the bill, which now awaits a Senate floor vote.
  • Federal telecommunications provider CenturyLink has a new name. The company will now be known as Lumen Technologies. Lumen says the new company will focus on adaptive networking, cloud and IT agility, security and communications and collaboration. Lumen holds a spot on the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract and has won several task orders recently from NASA and the Interior Department.
  • Some aircraft made for the Air Force and Space Force are going to get extra letters in the future. Air Force Secretary Barbra Barrett says the services will start putting the letter “E” in front of aircraft and satellites that have been designed through digital engineering. The process allows the Air Force to try different designs digitally without building a whole aircraft. The “e-series” aircraft will be part of the service’s plan to build smaller batches of planes that can be constantly upgraded.
  • The Air Force is making a leap into quantum technologies with other nations. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate is partnering with 18 research teams around the work who have qualified for awards for potentially game-changing quantum studies and innovations. The teams could win up to one million dollars for their work. The competition involves research on quantum timing, information processing and communications. The teams pitched ideas for lasers, integrated quantum platforms and sensors for GPS-denied navigation.
  • A federal judge is about to decide whether the military can discharge servicemembers simply because they’re HIV-positive. In court arguments yesterday, lawyers for two airmen the Air Force wants to discharge said the service’s policy is irrational and discriminatory. The court has put their separation on hold while the lawsuit unfolds, and a final decision is expected soon. Government attorneys argue the discharge decision is rational, because a separate Air Force policy prevents HIV-positive servicemembers from deploying overseas. Current rules also bar new recruits with HIV from joining the military. (Federal News Network)