Blood donations on military bases down significantly

In today's Federal Newscast, the military’s program for collecting blood and plasma donations says it’s facing an emergency supply problem.

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  • The military’s program for collecting blood and plasma donations says it’s facing an emergency supply problem. Fewer people are donating at on-base blood donation centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. At one site at Fort Hood, Texas, for example, donations are down between 5-to-15 per week. Normally, the center would be getting about 500 per week. (Army)
  • The Department of Homeland Security is about ready to kick the third iteration of its popular small business contract called First Source into high gear. DHS plans to release the final First Source 3 solicitation in early April. The multiple award contract has a $10 billion ceiling. The draft RFP detailed two functional areas, IT value resellers and software licensing and services. DHS expects to make awards until early 2022 and extended the current First Source contract through March 2022. BGov reports DHS and its components spent most the three-and-a-half billion dollars on First Source 2 since 2016.
  • The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee supports more money for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Committee ranking member John Katko (R-N.Y.) says CISA should play quarterback for cybersecurity in the federal government, and should get paid like one. Katko says, “I could easily see them at a $5-billion level in the not-too-distant future, if we give them the tools that they need to dispatch the duties of a quarterback. There’s so many things that we need them to do.” CISA now has administrative subpoenas over Internet Service Providers when the agency detects critical vulnerabilities in national infrastructure. But Katko says CISA needs to encourage the private sector to turn over more information about the cyber threats they face. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army says its working capital fund will need a cash injection of $600 million to $900 million by the end of the year. The service is working internally and with the Pentagon on how to find that money. The fund was depleted by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Army used the fund to pay for health and safety leave for employees, and for overtime for personnel making up for a smaller workforce. The Navy and Air Force both received $475 million from the COVID relief act for their capital funds. The Army did not expect that it would be using as much of its fund as it did and did not request any relief dollars. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will soon have the authority it needs to vaccinate more people. The House unanimously passed the SAVE Lives Act. It allows VA to vaccinate all veterans, not only those enrolled in the agency’s healthcare system. It also gives VA authority to vaccinate veterans’ spouses and family members. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The legislation stems from the leaders of the House and Senate VA committees. They say they’ve been impressed with VA’s vaccine distribution efforts.
  • Another temporary pause for VA’s signature electronic health records project. The department will conduct a strategic review of the EHR program. It may delay future deployments of the platform at other VA hospitals. Secretary Denis McDonough says he made the decision after reviewing the EHR deployment at VA’s first go-live site in Spokane, Washington. Members of Congress say they’re hearing concerns about the deployment there. Some staff are struggling to use the new system to fill prescriptions for veterans. (Federal News Network)
  • Iran has made threats against an Army post in Washington, D.C., and against the Army’s vice chief of staff. That’s according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Associated Press. The threats are one reason the Army has pushed for more security around Fort McNair, which sits alongside D.C.’s bustling Waterfront District. City leaders are skeptical about the Army’s plan to add a large buffer zone from the shore of the Washington Channel. That plan would cut off access to about half the width of the waterway. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is partnering with Intel to expand domestic production of custom computer chips. As part of a three-year partnership, Intel will work with the University of Florida, Texas A&M and the University of Maryland on new security measures that will prevent reverse engineering and counterfeiting. DARPA says the program enhances supply chain security for defense technology, and moves U.S. IT systems closer to a zero-trust environment.
  • The Skywave Lab sounds like something out of the future, but the Air Force just started building it in New Mexico. A 3,500 square foot, $3.5 million facility that will help with space experimentation around the globe is under construction at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The new lab, which will have 72 acres of land, will have large antennas and sensors that allow researchers to monitor the space environment. The team working in the Skywave Lab will develop and test radio and optical analysis of the near-earth space. The work will directly translate into improving the military’s presence outside Earth. The team is temporarily working in shipping containers until the building is finished.
  • A former State Department employee and his spouse are sentenced for trafficking hundreds of thousands of dollars in counterfeit goods through e-commerce accounts on State computers at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea. The Justice Department says Gene Thompson who was an Information Programs Officer at the agency, and his wife Becky Zhang plead guilty to doing so. Thompson received 18 months in prison.

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