To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
The 2020 presidential election continues to bite, in one case for a former Department of Housing and Urban Development official. It may be moot, but the HUD Region 2 administrator during the Trump administration must now serve a four-year debarment from federal service. More stinging may be the $1,000 fine. The Office of Special Counsel said Lynne Patton admitted to violating the Hatch Act by using her office, even though she was on leave, to produce a video concerning housing conditions. The video was shown during the Republican National Convention last summer.
Another native Missourian is next in line to lead the General Services Administration. Robin Carnahan, who has deep family and professional ties to Missouri, will be nominated to be new GSA administrator. The White House announced President Joe Biden’s intent to have her lead the agency, which was founded by Missouri native President Harry Truman in 1949. If the Senate confirms her, she would replace Emily Murphy, another native Missourian. This would be Carnahan’s second stint at GSA. From 2016 to 2020, she founded and led the 18F organization’s state and local technology consulting practice. Carnahan would come to the role after spending the last year as a fellow with Georgetown’s Beeck Center, where she co-founded the State Software Collaborative. (Federal News Network)
The leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are asking the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Chief Information Officer for more information about the impact of the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange server hacks. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said they’re concerned by reports that the SolarWinds breach compromised the emails of top Homeland Security officials. The senators asked CISA for more information about the systems affected by the hacks, and the limits of DHS’ EINSTEIN intrusion detection and intrusion prevention system. They also asked the federal CIO for details on any planned updates to the current federal cybersecurity strategy.
185 House members said they’re not satisfied with the plans so far to resolve a records requests backlog at the National Archives and Records Administration. The National Personnel Records Center has 480,000 outstanding records requests from veterans and their families. NARA said employees are working scattered shifts and on Saturdays to keep up with COVID-19 safety protocols. But House members said NARA’s actions have been insufficient so far. They’re calling on the Biden administration to do everything it can to reopen the personnel records center to more employees. They also want more details on NARA’s plans to resolve the backlog.
A bipartisan pair of House members are worried about the status of the Merit Systems Protection Board. Leaders on a House subcommittee are calling on President Biden to quickly nominate qualified members to the MSPB. The board hasn’t had a quorum for over four years. Though the agency has been partially functional. But Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.) say they’re worried the agency will be completely non-functional in a few months. Several cases are pending in federal court that could upend MSPB operations. (Federal News Network)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers say the Pentagon needs to be more careful about how it engages around the globe. 14 members of Congress are asking the Defense secretary to balance the demand signal to the military. In a letter, the lawmakers said constant requests for forces are keeping the military services from modernizing and driving up costs for readiness. They wrote that the tyranny of now is wearing out both service members and weapons systems. The authors warned that the desire to solve every immediate problem, regardless of strategic prioritization, will hollow out the force for the next generation.
The Defense Department will host its fifth annual military spouse symposium at the end of April. The free event connects spouses with the professional community, resources for career development and other ways to maximize their potential. Spouses can learn to explore self-care with the Military OneSource program, get advice on starting their own business and better their job interviewing skills. The symposium will be held online and is free to all military spouses.
This week, the Army started clinical trials on its own coronavirus vaccine, but one is a little different. The Army’s approach is another potential leap-ahead in vaccine technology. Instead of targeting just one strain of a particular virus, the nanoparticles it uses are shaped like soccer balls – letting vaccine developers encode genetic information about 24 different virus strains into a single shot. If the new platform works, it could become what researchers call a “universal vaccine” – giving people immunity against new coronaviruses long before they turn into pandemics.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body is turning to industry for some help. The body created an Industry Advisory Council made up of large and small businesses from a wide range of markets within the Defense Industrial Base. Yong-Gon Chon will be the chairman of the new council. Chon is the treasurer of the CMMC-AB. The mission of the IAC is to provide a unified voice to supply feedback, input and recommendations for implementing CMMC back to the DoD and the CMMC-AB.
The Office of Personnel Management is migrating to a new financial management system. The agency will adopt a platform from the Transportation Department’s Enterprise Services Center. The migration is supposed to be done in mid-May. OPM said its vendors will go through a different process to submit invoices and receive payments.
A new method being used for the first time by the U.S. Census Bureau to protect people’s privacy in 2020 census data could hamper voting rights enforcement and make it harder for congressional and legislative districts to have equal populations, according to a report from two leading civil rights groups. It’s called “differential privacy,” and the groups say it made smaller counties appear to have more people than they actually did at the expense of more populous counties. It also made counties appear more homogenous than they really are where clear majorities of people have a specific race or ethnic background. (Federal News Network)
The Postal Service can now move a limited number of its mail-sorting machines between facilities amid federal lawsuits. A U.S. District Court Judge rules USPS can move some of its high-speed mail sorting equipment to improve its level of service, and to accommodate an unprecedented growth in package volume. The ruling clarifies a preliminary injunction filed last September that put USPS operational changes on hold in the lead-up to the 2020 election. The agency still doesn’t have the freedom to move or remove up to 670 machines as it first planned. (Federal News Network)