Veterans group teaming up with DHS to fight foreign election interference

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  • A new joint effort between DHS and a prominent veterans group aims to fight foreign election interference. A 2019 report by Vietnam Veterans of America documented numerous ways disinformation campaigns targeted military and veteran communities. VVA and DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency now say they’re trying to head off that sort of thing in advance of next week’s election. The partnership includes a public awareness campaign, mostly targeted at the veterans community, aiming to point people toward trusted sources of information and away from what VVA calls a “psychological warfare” campaign on social media.
  • The chairman of the Federal Salary Council is resigning in protest over the president’s recent executive order. The Trump administration had tapped Ron Sanders to lead the salary council as an independent human resources expert. Sanders said he was doing his job in critiquing the president’s recent executive order. He described it as a red line and a loyalty litmus test to the president. He said the order would prevent career federal employees from speaking truth to power. The EO will reclassify a large portion of the career workforce as at-will appointees. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies are receiving an extra 16 months to transition to the new unique entity identifier, or UEI, for contract and grants awards. Originally, agencies had to move to the UEI and away from the Dun and Bradstreet number by December. But now the Office of Management and Budget is extending the deadline for agencies to move to UEI to April 2022. This number is generated by the SAM.gov portal instead of having to pay for and use a proprietary DUNS number. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council finalized the use of UEI in a July 2019 rule. (General Services Administration)
  • The State Department picked the vendor to modernize its computer networks. State will begin its transition to a contractor-managed, hybrid software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) to converge unclassified data, voice and video services for all offices around the globe. To do that, State hired MetTel under a 13-year, $711 million task order through the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS program. State will manage its new network through a single pane of glass to monitor and access reporting and performance details in near-real time. This is MetTel’s 12th win in 2020 under the EIS program.
  • Cerner Corporation said it successfully deployed its new electronic health record at the first Department of Veterans Affairs site over the weekend. VA went live with an initial set of capabilities at the Mann Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane and four community-based outpatient clinics in Washington, Montana and Idaho. A VA business operations center in Las Vegas was also part of the initial deployment. Cerner said it’s the first time in history three federal agencies are using the same EHR: VA, the Defense Department and the Coast Guard.
  • Recent spikes in COVID-19 present new worries for Army officials. From West Point to basic training to wargames to multinational exercises, the Army does a lot of training. That training also involves human beings coming into contact with each other — something that isn’t very helpful when trying to stem coronavirus. The Army has found some workarounds like constant testing and quarantine bubbles. However, as the weather gets colder and COVID cases spike to record numbers, the Army said it’s keeping a close eye on how it trains. Army officials said they are telling soldiers to remain disciplined with social distancing and using techniques they developed earlier this year. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force has received a patent for a new rapid runway repair solution. The formula was developed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base. The Air Force said the invention uses locally sources materials like sand and clay that will save the service about $1,140 per cubic yard. The Air Force has been working on the material since 2015.
  • The Federal Reserve is developing a service that’ll support instant payments. The service is called FedNow and won’t be available until 2023 or 2024, but Kirstin Wells, an economist for the Federal Reserve Board, said the Fed approved the idea following demand from consumers and businesses. Wells says, “We’re looking 10, 15, 20 years down the road, when we expect that more and more payments will be made in this way.” Much like the technology from the 1970s that created direct deposit, the Fed would provide the infrastructure piece to this new service, but would leave the rest up to the private sector. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies taking on DevSecOps have a new resource coming into focus. The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center, or ATARC, is working with GitLab to create a source code repository for government and industry. A member of the ATARC working group said the repository, once complete, will hold working code snippets for each continuous integration and continuous deployment pattern.
  • Two Congressional agencies got together to preserve documents turned out by the legislative branch. The Law Library of Congress agreed to become what’s known as a preservation steward of the Congressional Record and Federal Register, both produced daily by the Government Publishing Office. Preservation Stewards help GPO store printed documents and maintain online accessibility of digital ones. The Law Library is distinct from the Library of Congress, having been established in 1832. It has 2.9 million legal books and 3 million microfilm items.

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