To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
Senior executives and federal managers have some harsh criticism for the Office of Management and Budget’s recent directive on race training. OMB told agencies to cease and desist race training that it called, “divisive and anti-American propaganda.” The Professional Managers Association says the directive is tone deaf at best. PMA says the directive suggests the administration doesn’t understand the point of agency unconscious bias training. The Senior Executives Association says the OMB justification for canceling such training is insincere and inadequate.
Senate Democrats introduce a bill hoping to keep politics out of Postal Service operations. The Nonpartisan Postmaster General Act would prevent appointees for Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General from holding any political position in the four years prior to their appointments. It would also bar them from engaging in political fundraising on behalf of any candidates or participating in partisan political activities under the Hatch Act.
The Department of Homeland Security’s plan to bring components under one roof hits another snag. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking to stay in its leased office space for up another 20 years, and expand its square footage by nearly 20%. That’s according to a lease prospectus the General Services Administration sent to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this summer. FEMA says it can accommodate its staff more easily and cheaply in leased space versus a move the DHS St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast DC.
The Census Bureau’s plan to finish the 2020 count on time is raising alarm bells from experts. Former bureau director John Thompson told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that expedited data processing requires the bureau to make last-minute changes to computer programs, making it much more likely that a serious computer error goes undetected until after the count is completed. The Government Accountability Office says the bureau’s attrition rate for enumerators is also nearly double what it projected. (Federal News Network)
There may be a delay in the marquee defense policy bill. One of the biggest annual bills may not be finished until after the election. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) says the 2021 defense authorization bill is at a détente. Thornberry says both sides have incentives to stake out their positions and go to battle. The bill is currently in conference after the House and Senate each passed their own versions of the bill. This year’s legislation deals with subjects like renaming military bases with Confederate names and getting rid of the Defense Department’s chief management officer position.
The Federal Communications Commission pledged a few new paid internship opportunities for underrepresented undergraduate, graduate and law school students. The FCC will launch the Early Career Staff Diversity Initiative later this fall. The agency says it will invest extra resources to recruit from historically-Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions and affinity groups. The FCC has only offered unpaid internships in recent years. But the agency says those unpaid opportunities often prevent students from underrepresented backgrounds to apply and work for the FCC.
The Presidential Management Fellows Program will offer its upcoming class of 2021 the chance to take a cyber aptitude and attitude test. The program piloted an assessment with a small group of fellows earlier this year. 30% had a high aptitude for cyber reskilling. The PMF program hopes the fellows who score well will earn placements at participating agencies as program analysts. The goal is to teach them cyber and leadership skills over the course of a two-year fellowship. (Federal News Network)
The first 11 publishers of training materials for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification received approval from the CMMC Accreditation Body. The AB says these Licensed Partner Publishers, or LPPs, met specific criteria including having at least 200 hours of published coursework or curriculum in technology, cybersecurity, auditing or similar content, at least 2 years of publishing history of similar content and at least 3 suitable client references. Over the next few months, the LPPs will take the CMMC-AB exam objectives and create educational curricula to help assessors.
The upcoming election has become a lightning rod for cybersecurity attacks. Microsoft is reporting the latest threats, mostly aimed at political organizations but also at people working inside the federal government. The attackers are bipartisan, hitting both the Biden and Trump campaigns as well as academics, think tanks, and administration officials. The Russian and China-based attacks, happening by the thousands, seek both login credentials and inside information. Spear phishing is a common method, but Strontium, Zirconium and Phosphorous use brute force too.
DISA’s MilCloud 2.0 is about to cross a new cybersecurity threshold. The Defense Information Systems Agency’s MilCloud 2.0 platform will be ready for classified data and systems sometime in the next four months. Rory Kinney, DISA’s services executive in the Services Directorate, Operations Center, says the cloud platform will achieve impact level 6 certification, the highest, during the first quarter of fiscal 2021. MilCloud 2.0 already meets the security requirements for FedRAMP high and IL5. DISA says MilCloud 2.0 current hosts more than five thousand workloads from every military service and Defense agency.
The Marine Corps is offering more than $200,000 to some pilots to stay in the military. The service, along with the rest of the military, is hurting for skilled aviators. The Marines are giving bonuses to pilots of the F-35, the V-22 Ospry, the UH-1 Huey helicopter and other aircraft. Fixed wing aircraft pilots with less than 12 years of service can sign up for six more years to get the maximum bonus or can sign up for four more years to get a $100,000 incentive fee. The bonuses vary by aircraft.
Commemorating the 19th anniversary of 9/11, the Defense Department is honoring the 184 servicemembers and civilians who lost their lives in 2001 when terrorists attacked the Pentagon. Today’s activities include a ceremonial unfurling of an American flag on the wall where Flight 77 struck the building.