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Any agency wanting a brand new website will have to go through a new provider. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is taking over the management of the dot-gov domain. The General Services Administration controlled the dot gov domain since the 1990s. But in 2020 Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the DOTGOV Act into law. It shifted responsibility for managing the dot gov domain to CISA. The law requires CISA to increase security and decrease complexity for federal, state and local governments.
The White House tapped an internal candidate to be the new federal CIO. Clare Martorana, who has been the chief information officer for the Office of Personnel Management, is the new Federal CIO. The White House announced Martorana’s appointment yesterday and her first day at the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of E-Government and IT is today. In coming to OMB, Martorana brings a varied set of experiences. She joined the government in 2016 as part of the US Digital Service where she worked on projects with the Veterans Affairs Department. Martorana then came to OPM in February 2019 after three and-a-half-years with USDS. Before coming to government, she served as general manager for the WebMD Network and other health and media related organizations. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department’s organization in charge of artificial intelligence is ready to tackle some big issues in 2021. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is preparing to embark on large programs that will help the Pentagon deliver goods and people to warzones faster. After an initial startup period, the JAIC is pushing into areas that matter most for the military. It is starting plans with entities like the Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Transportation Command to use AI technology for quickening business processes and finding ways to cut costs. The new projects are in stark contrast to the small pathfinding programs JAIC worked on in its early years. (Federal News Network)
Customs and Border Protection expanded its use of biometrics for travelers entering the U.S. to a third border crossing in the Rio Grande Valley. Now travelers at the Hidalgo Port of Entry near McAllen, Texas, will undergo Simplified Arrival – a facial biometrics technology which takes their picture while CBP officers review their travel documents. Officers then compare the new photo to the one in a traveler’s passport or visa. CBP says the technology only takes seconds and is more than 98% accurate.
Trust in the federal government is down, can anything be done to restore it? It’s been falling for decades, and at the moment only 20% of American adults say they trust government, according to Pew. Now a detailed survey by Deloitte and Fortune reveals some ways to restore trust. The big idea is aligning competence with intent, something that hasn’t always been the case during the pandemic. That means agencies just have to get better at good and consistent program delivery. A good shot of increased transparency would also help.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is kicking off a long process to find its next health administration leader. VA stood up a commission to consider candidates for VA’s undersecretary for health position. The commission will recommend candidates to the president, who will appoint and nominate a new undersecretary for health. The commission is supposed to consider candidates without regard to their political affiliation. VA’s top health administration job has been vacant for over four years.
VA also has a maintenance backlog that just never stops growing. VA estimates it would take $22 billion to address poor or failing systems at aging facilities across the country. The backlog was worth $10 billion a decade ago. The department has another list of major and minor construction projects it would like to tackle. That list is worth $49-59-billion. The department is in the middle of an effort to reevaluate its infrastructure needs. (Federal News Network)
Veterans Affairs could get more doses and more authority to vaccinate veterans and their families. A bipartisan group of senators introduced the SAVE Act. The bill would give VA the authority it needs to vaccinate all veterans, their spouses and their caregivers. VA is currently vaccinating veterans enrolled in the department’s health care system. It doesn’t currently have the doses it needs to vaccinate veterans not enrolled in VA health care. Senators say VA has been efficient in administering doses and deserves to play a bigger role in the government’s vaccination efforts.
The Pentagon is authorizing the use of more active duty troops to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Currently about 2,200 personnel are working at vaccination centers. Another 1,400 troops will be deployed in this new round. They are made up of 10 type 2 teams, which are smaller groupings that can administer about 3,000 vaccines a day. Type 1 teams are larger and made up of about 220 troops and can deliver 6,000 vaccines in a day. DoD identified more than 6,000 service members who can administer vaccines, however now all of those personnel have been deployed.
Lawmakers want more details from top agencies about the federal coronavirus response to see where processes could improve. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee seeks documents, communications and interviews from the White House, National Archives and Records Administration, Homeland Security, HHS, DoD, State Department and the Office of Management and Budget. COVID-19 has claimed more than 525,000 American lives in the last year.
House Democrats introduced a bill to fast-track the Postal Service’s adopting of next-generation vehicle. The Postal Vehicle Modernization Act would give USPS $6 billion, but require the agency to make at least 75% of its new delivery trucks electric or zero-emission. USPS last month awarded its next-generation vehicle contract to Oshkosh Defense. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers 10% of the vehicles the agency plans to buy will be electric. But he said the agency could purchase more electric vehicles with support from Congress. (Federal News Network)