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The COVID-19 vaccine is not a pre-condition for federal employees and contractors to return to work in-person at government buildings. That guidance comes from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Agencies should not ask employees about their vaccination status. But employees can volunteer that information if they choose. Agencies can use information that employees have volunteered about their vaccination status to implement masking and physical distancing policies. The Biden administration is strongly encouraging all federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated. Employees should receive paid time off to get the vaccine and recover from any side effects.
One of the most popular insurance plans for federal employees is offering an incentive for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering a $50 credit to participants in its Federal Employee Program who provide proof of vaccination. Blue Cross members can use this credit for eligible medical expenses. The incentive program starts tomorrow. Blue Cross said it launched this incentive program to help the Biden administration meet its goal of having at least 70% of all Americans with their first vaccine dose by July 4.
The Education Department’s headquarters is getting a major overhaul that would bring more employees under one roof. The General Services Administration, in a solicitation, seeks to renovate four floors of the Lyndon Johnson Federal Building in downtown DC. Once renovations are complete, GSA said Education will move 600 employees from leased space and into the building. The agency expects the renovation will cost $50-60 million.
The Office of Management and Budget said it needs more funding next year to rebuild capacity with its career workforce. Acting OMB Director Shalanda Young said many offices within the agency are operating with historically low staffing levels. She said an additional 14% in funding for 2022 would help fill vacant positions and restore OMB’s paid internship program.
The Department of Veteran Affairs is slated to receive a new assistant secretary for enterprise integration. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Deputy Director of the Defense Health Agency Guy Kiyokawa. Kiyokawa spent 29 years in the Army with a range of different leadership roles. He retired as a colonel in 2015, the same year he began his role as deputy director of DHA.
Three of the Biden administration’s nominees for the Department of Homeland Security have made it through the first step of their confirmation process. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has approved John Tien as deputy secretary, Rob Silvers as undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans, and Jonathan Meyer as general counsel.
The Postal Service is defending slower mail to achieve more reliable delivery. USPS officials tell the Postal Regulatory Commission its proposed changes would affect 40% of first-class mail volume, and would go into effect as early as the first quarter of next year. USPS Vice President for Logistics Robert Cintron said customers value reliable delivery compared to overall speed. “Being reliable means that if we say three days, four days or five days, that we deliver within that span.”
The Air Force will focus on broadening its digital presence across the department through the newly formed Digital Transformation Office. DTO will consist of twelve members who will look across the entire command to address its digital needs. The office’s openings are part of the more than 300 positions created in the Air Force for expanding digital capabilities.
Managers of privatized military housing are being held accountable for falsifying records in order to get incentive bonuses from the Defense Department. Two housing management firms pleaded guilty in their roles to defraud the Air Force in connection with military housing communities. Former employees conspired with others to falsify maintenance reports at more than five different military installations. Leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee say they are glad justice is being serviced, and that they will keep a close eye on housing companies. Two years ago, Congress heard reports of substandard living conditions in privatized military houses. Lawmakers have been working to remediate the issues since.
The Defense Department established a new international academic center focused on the Arctic. The Ted Stevens Institute for Arctic Security Studies aims to foster collaboration between the Pentagon, other agencies and international partners. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it will help DoD work with allies and partners on climate change and other unique security challenges in the Arctic. The venue is the first new DoD regional center since the Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies was established in 2000.
The Commerce Department is working on new ideas for protecting Americans’ data from software tied to China and other foreign nations. In an executive order, President Joe Biden dropped the Trump administration’s plan for banning apps like TikTok and WeChat. Instead, it directed Commerce to come up with new recommendations for protecting sensitive data like personal health information. The order also outlines new parameters for identifying software that could pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. citizens and national security. They include applications managed by individuals who support the military and intelligence activities of countries like China.
The first vendor made it through the gauntlet to be authorized to provide CMMC assessments. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body says Redspin is the first certified third party assessment organization (C3PAO). The Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Assessment Center (DIB-CAC) recently approved the company’s CMMC maturity level three assessment audit. Redspin also met the remaining C3PAO administrative and personnel requirements. There are 156 other companies waiting to pass the CMMC level 3 DIBCAC assessment. Once approved, the C3PAOs can conduct CMMC assessments of DoD vendors. The AB expects the assessments to begin later this summer.