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President Donald Trump yesterday said he plans to name Basil Parker as the new federal chief information officer, putting to rest a month-long rumor. Parker would replace Suzette Kent, who left in July after two-plus years in the role. Parker comes over to the Office of Management and Budget after working at the Office of Personnel Management since 2018, most recently as its chief of staff. Parker spent most of his career in the private sector before joining OPM.
President Trump also took to Twitter yesterday to fire Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS. The rumor that Krebs would be dismissed came to light last week. The last straw seems to be Krebs’ tweet saying there was no fraud in the presidential election. Trump wrote on Twitter that Krebs’ comments last week were highly inaccurate. Krebs led CISA since June 2018 and has been with DHS since 2017. (Federal News Network)
Members of the National Federation of Federal Employees re-elected Randy Erwin as their national president. This will be Erwin’s second term as NFFE national president. A majority of union members voted for Erwin during NFFE’s virtual national convention. NFFE says it will resume other convention activities when it’s safe to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal agencies cut back their use of official time by 28% in 2019. The Office of Personnel Management has new data on how federal bargaining unit employees used official time over the last year. Some agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs cut official time use in half. The Department of Health and Human Services cut union time by over 80%. The president’s 2018 executive order limiting official time wasn’t technically in place when agencies reported 2019 data. But OPM says agencies were mindful of the administration’s intended policies and made changes anyway. (Federal News Network)
Improper payments in one of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services largest programs are down by $15 billion. CMS says since 2016 it has reduced the amount of waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare Fee- For-Service program. The current improper payment of 6.27% is the lowest ever. The agency says the reduction is a result of CMS’s efforts to identify the root causes of improper payments, implement action plans to reduce and prevent improper payments, and extend the agency’s capacity to address emerging areas of risk through work groups and interagency collaborations.
Predictive analytics make all the difference to agencies trying to use evidence-based decision making, said data officials at the Education and Commerce departments. As federal student loan forgiveness — implemented during the coronavirus — comes to an end, Education will use predictive analytics to communicate with borrowers most in danger of defaulting. Meanwhile, Commerce is using an evidenced based approach and artificial intelligence to spot improper payments and fraudulent schemes. (Federal News Network)
GSA prepares to launch another tool to help agencies have confidence in the security of the products they are buying. A new verified products portal run by the General Services Administration is expected to launch in the next month or so. Mark Lee, the assistant commissioner of the Office of Policy and Compliance at GSA, said the new initiative is the cornerstone of their catalog management effort. “This is a portal where we will actually be getting data from manufacturers and wholesalers and it will be used to help identify prohibited items prior to award on our contract vehicles.” Lee says the ultimate goal is to reduce the burden on suppliers and agency customers.
The Marine Corps activates its own space component as part of U.S. Space Command. Marine Corps Forces Space Command will focus on providing space operational support to the Marine force. The organization will be led by Maj. Gen. Matthew Glavy. He will also lead Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command. The two units will remain separate and distinct commands despite having the same person at the helm.
The Navy is planning on reestablishing a whole new fleet in the Pacific Ocean. It is concerned about threats from China and Russia and therefore is bringing back the 1st Fleet. The service retired the 1st Fleet after the end of the Vietnam War. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite says the fleet will be at the crossroads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The fleet will be more expeditionary-related than the 7th Fleet, which is also in the Pacific. The Navy recently reestablished its 2nd Fleet, which oversees and controls operations in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is sharing customer experience best practices with other agencies. VA is out with a new CX “cookbook.” It describes how agencies can embed customer experience principles into their programs, budgets and regulations. VA also published a new report detailing its own CX journey over the last five years. The department is preparing a new CX directive that will embed customer experience policies further into the VA culture. It also developed employee journey maps in an effort to improve the experience of the VA workforce. (Federal News Network)
Agencies are working with smart cities to innovate with technologies like the Internet of Things and 5G networks. The Veterans Affairs Department now uses augmented reality for surgery at its Palo Alto Health Care System in California. Going forward VA sees 5G relieving bottlenecks in deploying telemedicine. At the same time, the Energy Department is trying to use IoT for managing supply chain risks and a remote workforce impacted by the pandemic. (Federal News Network)