Pentagon easing pandemic travel restrictions

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  • The Defense Department is steadily lifting the travel restrictions it imposed in response to COVID-19. This week’s update from the Pentagon shows just over half of the military’s worldwide installations are now in the “green” category — meaning servicemembers can move to and from those bases without special permission. Four bases were added to the unrestricted list in the past week. DoD considers several factors in deciding whether to change an installation’s status, including whether adequate health care services are available at the base and conditions in the local community.
  • Inspectors general on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee warn a job well done tracking about $3 trillion in coronavirus spending still means billions in fraud. The committee’s acting chairman Michael Horowitz says only 1% of fraudulent spending would rival the Justice Department’s annual budget. He says current indicators suggest that the actual level of misspent funds is higher than 1%, but that the committee’s work continues to lead to arrests and fraud charges. (Federal News Network)
  • President Donald Trump is tapping a former House committee staff director to become the new inspector general of the Intelligence Community. The President plans to nominate Allen Souza to replace Michael Atkinson, whom Trump fired in April, to oversee the IC. Souza is currently the Principal Deputy Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council. He previously served as Minority Staff Director and General Counsel of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (White House)
  • Customs and Border Protection didn’t adequately protect sensitive data that was swept up in a data breach of a subcontractor, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. The IG report says those cyber deficiencies allowed the subcontractor to improperly copy images of travelers onto a system that was later breached. The IG says the data breach compromised about 184,000 images of travelers from CBP’s facial recognition pilot, and at least 19 of the images have been posted to the dark web.
  • NIST is out with a major revision of its seminal cybersecurity guidance. NIST is calling revision five of the Special Publication 800-53 not just an update but a total renovation. It released the final version of its long standing cybersecurity publication yesterday, changing everything from how security and privacy controls are integrated to the addition of supply chain risk management concepts. NIST says revision 5 is the end of a multi-year effort to develop the first comprehensive catalog of security and privacy controls that can be used to manage risk for organizations of any sector and size, and all types of systems.
  • Unions are still fighting the president’s 2018 workforce executive orders. An arbitrator says portions of the 2018 EOs on official time and collective bargaining violate federal labor-management law. The decision stems from a collective bargaining dispute between the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Treasury Employees Union. NTEU filed unfair labor practice complaints against PTO for implementing portions of the president’s EOs and not bargaining over them. An arbitrator agreed. PTO can file exceptions over the arbitrator’s decision and appeal it in court. (Federal News Network)
  • The Aerospace Industries Association unveiled a roadmap to recovery. The aerospace industry took a large hit from the coronavirus pandemic and is still in the midst of it. The interest group recommended that government continue targeted payroll assistance to help companies pay for wages and benefits. It also suggested investment in research and STEM education to develop technologies that protect jobs and critical skills. AIA wants DoD to accelerate its defense procurement as well. It said increasing progress payments for ongoing contracts may help companies.
  • The Navy’s biggest cluster of military bases are authorized to move to a less restrictive health condition. Hampton Roads, Virginia had been under health protection condition Charlie since coronavirus hit the United States. It is now moving to condition Bravo. This allows military personnel to adhere to state and local guidance for off-base activities. They can also leave their homes for now essential tasks. The bases moved to the new health condition because they met Defense Department requirements for COVID minimization and preparedness.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said it hit a big milestone this month. The Board of Veterans Appeals issued over 100,000 decisions in fiscal 2020. The board issued 95,000 decisions last year. That marked the previous record for most decisions issued in a year. The board also finished 15,000 hearings this year. Four thousand of them were virtual. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says the progress is a result of VA’s ongoing efforts to modernize the appeals process.

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