Army getting some help keeping their troops in shape

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  • Personal trainers are all over the gym, but they may soon be in the military. The Army is embedding nutritionists, physical fitness experts and coaches into active duty brigades in hopes of increasing performance and cutting down on injuries. The Army says it will place experts in 110 brigades. The effort will involve 500 soldiers, 700 Army civilian employees and nearly 2,000 contractors. The military has been rethinking the way troops train after many have ended up unable to deploy because of musculoskeletal injuries. The Army recently changed its physical fitness test to be less stressful on the body and to help soldiers stay healthy longer.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Air Force are teaming up to help women leaving the military get the health services they need. The virtual training, taught by women veterans, will cover topics like enrolling in the VA, utilizing female-specific services and understanding the Veterans Health Administration. The course will be available to all active duty, guard and reserve service women. The sessions are offered twice a day until the end of the year. The 2021 schedule is currently being finalized.
  • All seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been cleared to end their self-quarantine they began after a potential coronavirus exposure. The nation’s top military leaders had been working from home for the past two weeks. But Pentagon officials said they were given the all-clear at the end of last week after each of them had several consecutive negative tests. The self-quarantine began when Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard tested positive earlier this month. Ray had attended a Joint Chiefs meeting a few days earlier. (Federal News Network)
  • The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case alleging the president violated federal law by diverting Defense Department funds to build his border wall. A federal appeals court has already found the administration usurped Congress’s power of the purse when it redirected billions from the Defense budget, but the White House is seeking to have that ruling overturned. The case is unlikely to be decided until next year. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing a new customer experience cookbook of best practices and other lessons for the rest of government. VA said it will advise agencies to build CX into federal regulations, internal agency policies and proposed legislation. It’s also launching a new CX training institute for VA health employees. These employees will learn customer experience best practices through a written curriculum and then a practical project where they can apply new skills. The institute will start later this fall with students interested in the patient experience. (Federal News Network)
  • The Agriculture Department is taking big steps to get a handle on its data. USDA has stood up over 500 dashboards that give agency executives and employees new insights into daily operations. Those dashboards give supervisors at the Forest Service, for example, an integrated view of metrics on timber sales, and gives food safety scientists real-time access to laboratory data. Meanwhile, a COVID-19 dashboard has helped agency executives make key decisions about reopening facilities. (Federal News Network)
  • NASA’s chief procurement officer and assistant administrator for procurement Monica Manning is leaving for a new agency. Federal News Network confirmed Manning told staff Friday that she has taken a new position with the Federal Reserve. Her last day is Nov. 6. NASA said Bill Roets, the deputy assistant administrator for procurement, will serve as the acting assistant administrator for procurement, until a permanent replacement is named. Roets has been with NASA since 2008. Manning has been with NASA since 2003 and also serves as a member of the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council as one of three signatories.
  • The Federal Acquisition Security Council laid out its strategic direction. With initiatives to secure the federal technology supply chain popping up like spring flowers, a new council is ready to play gardener. The Federal Acquisition Security Council’s strategic plan details three pillars and a dozen strategic activities it will focus on in the near future. The council aims to be a central hub to unify federal supply chain risk management efforts. It will develop uniform criteria to increase capabilities and help agencies mature their processes to buy and use technology they can trust. (Federal News Network)
  • A new class of Presidential Innovation Fellows began their yearlong tour of duty at 22 agencies. The program recruits industry professionals with expertise in data science, software engineering, and product design. Their portfolio of upcoming work includes combatting adversarial artificial intelligence at the Energy Department, and developing digital health platforms at the National Institutes of Health to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. (General Services Administration)
  • Another cabinet official is the subject of a Hatch Act investigation. At issue are recent comments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about releasing new emails from Hillary Clinton. The Office of Special Counsel agreed to investigate. Progressive organization American Oversight argues Pompeo’s comments are too close to the upcoming presidential election. OSC recently found Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the Hatch Act when he spoke about the president’s reelection campaign.
  • It’s time to get serious about China-proofing the U.S. information and communications technology supply base, a Congressionally-chartered commission said. The Cyberspace Solarium Commission said dependency on China threatens the trustworthiness of these technologies. The commission released a 50-page guide — the fourth white paper it’s published — on building a trusted supply chain. It calls for the government to help establish three to five manufacturing clusters to make critical parts on U.S. soil, and for the Defense Department to release more spectrum to the domestic telecom market.
  • Participation in the Thrift Savings Plan’s Lifecycle funds is growing. A record 2.7 million TSP participants are invested in one of the funds — that amounts to 45% of all TSP participants. The majority are invested in the L-2050 fund, but the L-2030 fund has the most assets. Over 1.6 participants are completely invested in one of the L funds. The TSP gave participants more options this summer when it added a handful of new L funds in five-year increments.

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