President-elect Biden reacts to SolarWinds breach

In today's Federal Newscast, President-elect Joe Biden begins to set expectations for how his administration will handle cybersecurity.

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  • President-elect Joe Biden has begun to set expectations for how his administration will handle cybersecurity. Promising to impose substantial costs on cyber attackers, the incoming Biden administration reacted to the SolarWinds breach. In a statement released yesterday, President-elect Biden said he will make cybersecurity a top priority across every level of government. He says he will elevate cybersecurity as an imperative across the federal government, further strengthen partnerships with the private sector and expand federal investment in the infrastructure and people needed to defend against cyber attacks. Biden called the SolarWinds attack a matter of great concern and plans to deal with it from day one of his administration.
  • The CFO Act is one step closer to getting a much needed update. The Senate yesterday passed the CFO Vision Act of 2020 to address some long-standing needs that came to light over the last 30 years since the CFO Act became law. The CFO Vision Act would clearly define the responsibilities of CFOs and deputy CFOs. It would require the Office of Management and Budget to update the government’s financial plan every four years to include actions for improving financial management systems, strengthening the federal financial management workforce and better linking performance and cost information for decision-making. The House has not introduced a companion bill.
  • A bill introduced in the Senate would give the General Services Administration more resources to improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of federal buildings. The GREEN Building Jobs Act would give GSA $1 billion to implement energy improvements at GSA facilities, and would require half of all large GSA facilities to install electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. It also includes financial incentives for federal leaseholders to meet energy efficiency standards. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said the bill aligns with President-elect Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.
  • The SolarWinds breach raised stakes for the National Defense Authorization Act President Trump has threatened to veto. The NDAA includes a third of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s final recommendations. Chief among them are provisions that would elevate and empower the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and put a Senate-confirmed national cyber director position back in the White House. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said these and other provisions are essential to for agencies to respond to these and other cyber threats.
  • Congress passed a massive, catch-all bill that will extend and expand certain housing, education and other benefits for veterans during the pandemic. The legislation also creates a permanent women’s health office within VA. It requires VA to create a new anti-harassment policy and expand the number of providers specializing in women’s healthcare. The bill is named after retiring House VA Committee Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and former Senate committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Isakson retired last year for health reasons.
  • Healthcare workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs say they’re feeling overworked, overwhelmed and unheard during the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local leaders with the American Federation of Government Employees say they’re noticing burnout among their colleagues on the frontlines. VA says AFGE’s claims “lack creditability.” 1,400 VA employees had active COVID-19 cases last week. A total of 87 employees have died due to complications from the virus since mid-March. (Federal News Network)
  • Inauguration Day is still a holiday for most federal employees in the D.C. region. Pandemic or not, most federal employees will have the day off on January 20. The Office of Personnel Management said many federal employees are still teleworking. But Inauguration Day will remain a federal holiday for employees who’d normally report to an office or work site in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Federal employees will also have the day off on that Monday, January 18 for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. (Federal News Network)
  • Congressional leaders will be some of the first recipients of the coronavirus vaccine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will both be vaccinated by the end of the week. Other members of Congress are eligible too, according to Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician. He sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to make appointments. Congressional staff members are next in line for the doses allocated to Capitol Hill under a continuity of government plan. (Federal News Network)
  • President-elect Biden has chosen Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as his nominee for Secretary of the Interior. The New Mexico congresswoman would be the first Native American to lead the department. Haaland is one of the first two Native American women to have ever served in the House. If confirmed, she’d lead a department with massive sway over indigenous people. Interior oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and several land management agencies in charge of historically Native lands. (Federal News Network)
  • The Social Security Administration has received a list of recommendations on how to improve its technology modernization plan. Appointed by the Social Security Advisory Board, the IT Systems Expert Panel has made a long list of recommendations for the agency to improve its $691 million plan. Many of the ideas would give Social Security a more customer-focused orientation, using journey maps to simplify transactions people have with the agency, and adding a chief customer officer to oversee it all. The panel was chaired by Cisco senior fellow Alan Balutis.

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