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If you get your healthcare via the Defense Department, you can now make an appointment for a COVID vaccination online. The Defense Health Agency recently set up a scheduling website for TRICARE beneficiaries interested in receiving the coronavirus vaccine. The DHA Appointing Portal has options for people in the United States and abroad. Army Col. Jennifer Garrison, team leader for the Defense Department’s vaccine rollout, explained more about inoculation possibilities. Garrison says, “The best way to reach out is to a vaccination site, a military treatment facility or use TRICARE.mil.”
The Defense Department is deploying another 860 active duty military members to help run community vaccination sites. The latest group of medical professionals will help put shots into arms at mass immunization sites in Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and Virginia. DoD has deployed about 3,000 medical personnel and staff to support FEMA-run sites so far. The Pentagon says they’ve administered 1.7 million doses.
A group of advocacy organizations are calling on the Defense Department to reconsider some future changes to the military health system. The Military Coalition, which represents more than 20 organizations, is urging DoD not to increase future TRICARE fees in order to keep rates low for military families. The coalition is also asking that the Pentagon reconsider its planned cut to medical billets. DoD proposed cutting 18,000 medical positions to increase military lethality. The organizations say the cuts would compromise combat and humanitarian care.
The Air Force has picked Tyndall Air Force base as the latest installation to host the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The base in the Florida panhandle was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018. That event, in some ways, gave Tyndall a chance to start from scratch as DoD’s first “installation of the future.” The Air Force says the rebuilding process let it tailor its facilities to the unique needs of the F-35. The service plans to station three squadrons of the new fighter there.
Pandemic stimulus payments are going out this weekend to 30 million recipients of the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income program. Payments are also going out to eligible Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries. These payments have taken longer to process because the IRS relies on data from other agencies to determine eligibility. The IRS says it’s still reviewing data for Department of Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, and expects to send out those Economic Impact Payments by mid-April.
It was a record year for the General Services Administration’s IT category. Agency spending on GSA’s IT contracts topped $30 billion in fiscal 2020, accounting for about a third of all technology spending across the government. GSA says the schedules brought in more than $18 billion, including almost $13 billion in new obligations. This means schedules saw a 18% growth rate for new spending. Agency customers also spent more money with small businesses on the schedules, governmentwide contracts and through the telecommunications vehicle. Total small business spending topped $7 billion last year.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program has more than 100 third party assessment organizations, up from 53 in January. This is one example of the slow but steady progress the CMMC Accreditation Body is making in getting the program running. The 3PAOs will manage the assessment process for Defense contractors. CMMC-AB members say the 3PAO process is complex, which is part of the reason it’s taking longer than expected to approve providers. They say only one 3PAO has received its level 3 certification from the DCMA, but more are expected to get through this process in the spring.
Ten former national security leaders are calling on the Biden administration to lead an international conversation on emerging tech. The leaders voice their support for the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act. The bill would create an interagency office within the State Department that would collaborate with other countries on rules of the road for 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other emerging technologies. The office would be led by a special ambassador for technology at State, along with deputies from the Commerce and Treasury Departments. While the bill hasn’t made it far in Congress, the letter calls on the Biden administration to stand up the office on its own.
Agencies are paying too little attention to federal human resources. That’s the message of a new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. They pointed to the results from the General Services Administration’s annual customer satisfaction survey. Employees ranked HR last among four administrative services. The Partnership says agencies should focus on making stronger business cases about their needs to change and streamline HR services, and explain how those changes will improve mission delivery. (Federal News Network)
Federal agencies may face challenges recruiting future generations to secret and top secret positions. The RAND Corporation says young people may struggle to meet the usual financial, social and behavioral requirements needed to get a security clearance. Agencies often look at an applicant’s financial debt, drug use and personal conduct online to determine eligibility for a clearance. But RAND says younger people today carry more student debt and other societal trends are changing. It says agencies should consider changing their clearance guidelines to better adapt.
A group of scientists are urging the government to go slow in trying radical approaches to changing the atmosphere. Among the more radical ideas for climate change are solar geo-engineering, such as spraying large quantities of aerosol reflectors in the sky, or enhancing clouds. They could do more harm than good. That’s according to a consensus study from the National Academies. It says such measures should only be done on a small scale for specific research, and in consultation with other nations. It says the main climate change responses should continue to focus on reducing carbon emissions.