House, Senate Dems want to allow Postal Service to do more banking activities

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  • House and Senate Democrats press the rest of Congress to let the Postal Service get into the banking business. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J). join Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in asking for authorization language to make it into the fiscal 2022 spending bill. The lawmakers said banking services would help the Postal Service generate $9 billion a year in revenue. USPS already conducts limited financial services including money orders, but would need legislation to take on more robust services.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said its old hospitals need attention. President Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $18 billion to repair and replace VA’s crumbling medical facilities. The department acknowledged that’s a lot of money. But it’s still not enough to address all of the facilities on VA’s list that need major upgrades. VA said it would need between $50-60 billion to tackle all of its capital improvement projects. The Biden administration said the infrastructure plan funding is enough to fully replace 10 or 15 facilities. (Federal News Network)
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the department will fill vacancies at its two research bureaus in both Washington and Kansas City. The Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture relocated employees from Washington D.C. to Kansas City almost two years ago. The relocation created widespread vacancies at ERS and NIFA. Vilsack said USDA still has about 100 vacancies at each bureau. But he said hiring from both locations should attract more talent and create more diverse and inclusive workforces.
  • Military exchange stores will have more authorized customers in the coming month. The Defense Department is loosening some of the restrictions it has on military exchange stores. DoD civilians and Coast Guard civilians will now be able to shop at the sales tax free establishments. Retired DoD civilians can now shop at the online stores and are eligible for travel and hotel discounts. The change makes exchanges available to nearly 600,000 more customers. Late last year, the Pentagon made online exchange shopping available to all honorably discharged veterans.
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers are introducing legislation that will clear up disparities in military uniform costs between men and women. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that women were spending more than double out-of-pocket what men were for non-reimbursable clothing costs. The bill would pay women back for some of their disparity costs. It would also require the military services to come up with a plan to close the gap.
  • A former Army science and technology leader is set to become the first black superintendent of Virginia Military Institute. Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins retired as the commander of Army Combat Capabilities Development Command in 2019. Yesterday, he earned a unanimous vote from VMI’s board of visitors to lead the school. He had been serving as the interim superintendent since last year, when the school’s former leader stepped down amid allegations of a hostile racial climate. Wins earned his Army commission from VMI, where he graduated in 1985. (Federal News Network)
  • The State Department is one-step closer to standing up a new bureau that would set international norms for cybersecurity. The Cyber Diplomacy Act will get a vote on the House floor next week, according to two of its cosponsors. The bill would create a Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy at the State Department, led by an ambassador with the same rank and status as an assistant secretary of state. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said the bill would give the department the tools needed to identify, attribute and respond to cyber incidents more quickly. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal cloud service providers who suffer real or possible cyber incidents must report those problems within one hour to their agency customers and DHS’ US-CERT. Updated guidance from the FedRAMP cloud security program outlines these requirements as well as several other changes. This is the first revision to FedRAMP’s Incident Communications Procedures in almost three years. Additionally, FedRAMP also is requiring cloud service providers to meet all mandates outlined by CISA in its recent emergency cyber directives. FedRAMP said its goal is to ensure that all incident handling is transparent and that all stakeholders are aware of the current status and remediation efforts.
  • NARA signs a new deal to modernize its computer networks. The National Archives and Records Administration is getting a network makeover. Under a $65 million contract with MetTel through the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program, NARA will move its legacy hub-and-spoke architecture to a fully meshed SD-WAN infrastructure. The software-defined approach is expected to improve network performance, ease administrative burden, reduce operating costs and improve cybersecurity. NARA also will implement managed network services, including Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service or MTIPS under the task order. Agencies have until September 2022 to move all telecommunications to the EIS contract.

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