VA to start providing gender confirmation surgeries for its patients

In today's Federal Newscast, Veterans Affairs plans to add gender confirmation surgery to the list of benefits it offers to vets in its health care system.

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  • Agencies spent more money through multiple award contracts in fiscal 2020 than ever before. New analysis from Bloomberg Government found the government obligated $159 billion through more than 2,000 of these acquisition vehicles. BGov said about one-half of all MAC spending was for IT and professional services last year. Since 2016, the Defense Department’s reliance on multiple award contracts grew by 50% while civilian agency use grew by 33%. Small businesses also did well through MACs, winning about 33% of all awards for the second year in a row in 2020.
  • Some changes at the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Institute. FAI is migrating its Training Application System to Cornerstone On Demand. Cornerstone On Demand is a software as a service platform hosted by Defense Acquisition University. The new system is called FAI CSOD. FAI said it’s trying to meet the speed and agility needs of the modern acquisition workforce.
  • Another cybersecurity shared service is one step closer to being available for agencies. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will begin giving agencies a new set of tools later this year to do more to limit ransomware, phishing, botnet and malware threats. CISA awarded a $112 million contract to Accenture and Cloudflare to roll out a new Domain Name System (DNS) resolver service through its Quality Service Management Office or QSMO shared service office. Under the five-year deal, agencies will receive tools to ensure the websites employees are going to are trustworthy. CISA will provide the service free of charge as part of its effort to implement its April 2020 memo requiring agencies to use protective DNS resolver tools.
  • Navy Rear Adm. Francis Morley is nominated as the next principal military deputy to the assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition. In that role he will be facilitating the procurement and development of Navy and Marine Corps platforms and weapons systems. Morley is currently serving as the director of the Navy International Programs Office. (Department of Defense)
  • The Navy is having trouble keeping some of its key sailors. Officers in charge of operating ships are leaving the Navy at higher rates or changing to different jobs. A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that after 10 years only 33% of surface warfare officers stayed in their careers. That’s compared to 45% from similar positions within the Navy. Only 12% of women surface warfare officers continued their jobs after 10 years. The GAO suggested the Navy look into how it can better its retention rates and why people are leaving.
  • A bill in the House would set up a pilot program in the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve veteran access to care at medical facilities. The program, which was introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), will enable veterans to choose their healthcare providers and access primary, specialty and mental healthcare facilities outside of their Veterans Integrated Service Networks or at non-VA facilities. During the pilot’s three-year duration, VA is required to give veterans information about eligibility, cost sharing and healthcare providers.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to add gender confirmation surgery to the list of benefits it offers to vets in its health care system. VA Secretary Denis McDonough made the announcement during a speech to a Pride Month event in Orlando, Florida this weekend. McDonough said it’s part of an effort to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination against transgender military servicemembers. VA said the changes will likely take years to fully implement, but that they were made with the recommendation of its own clinicians. (Associated Press)
  • The Social Security Administration has an updated review of field office safety measures for employees and in-person visitors taken during the pandemic. SSA’s inspector general’s latest report said that from March 2020 to April of this year, an average of about 2,100 employees and about sixteen-hundred visitors entered field offices each day. Last summer Congress asked SSA how many employees were still reporting to the office and what safety measures were undertaken for both staff and visitors. Since May, SSA staff have been pre-screening customers over the phone to make sure they don’t need to spend more than about seven minutes at a field office.
  • A former National Institute of Standards and Technology robotics research site in the D.C. suburbs is up for sale. The General Services Administration said the site at 7070 Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a little smaller than 14 acres, is surrounded by homes and close to shopping, schools and recreational sites. The property is open for public auction and is part of the High-Value Round under the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act. Per the law, proceeds from the sale will be used to fund other federal asset disposals and consolidations later on.
  • A federal appeals court said the Federal Communications Commission was on solid legal ground when it tried to keep Chinese providers out of the U.S. telecommunications system. The FCC rules at issue designated Huawei equipment as a risk to critical infrastructure, and told companies they couldn’t use the gear if they wanted to continue to receive federal subsidies. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found assessing cybersecurity risks is “in the FCC’s wheelhouse.” (Federal News Network)
  • The Library of Congress’ Digital Innovation Laboratory is under new management. The Library recently appointed Nicole Saylor chief of the digital innovation lab, which supports its digital transformation efforts and its digital collections. The position is new, and intended to oversee experimentation with new ways of integrating the Library’s collections with technology. Saylor previously served as director of the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center.

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