Biden administration launches new website to combat ransomware

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  • NATO’s first U.S.-based headquarters organization is up and running. The new Joint Force Command in Norfolk, Virginia, declared full operational capability in a ceremony yesterday. The NATO command is meant to deliver reinforcements for any potential future war in Europe. It’s not to be confused with the similarly-named Joint Forces Command — a Defense Department organization based in nearby Hampton Roads, which shut down almost exactly 10 years ago.
  • Vice Adm. James Kilby was tapped as the next leader of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. The organization provides combat-ready Navy forces to combatant commanders around the globe. The command is currently led by Adm. Christopher Grady. Kilby now serves as the deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities.
  • President Joe’s Biden’s pick to run the Census Bureau outlined steps to improve workforce morale. Robert Santos, the Urban Institute’s vice president and chief methodologist, said Census employees worked under harrowing conditions last year. In some cases  they worked seven days a week and put in 80-hour workweeks to get ahead of pandemic delays. Santos told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee he’s open to offering bonuses and raises to employees to address morale issues, but he is also looking at telework options for employees. “There are morale issues, we know that. Morale is a symptom, it’s not the root cause of a problem,” Santos said. (Federal News Network)
  • A new Pentagon policy calls for ramping up the use of 3D printing for both frontline and logistical challenges. The Defense Department released its first-ever additive manufacturing policy in early June. Tracy Frost, director of DoD’s manufacturing technology program, said the policy “will align activities to accelerate the use of AM.” DoD wants to use additive manufacturing to help combatant commands meet urgent requirements, transform maintenance operations, and improve logistics to become more self-sustaining. The military services are now working on implementation plans to advance the new policy. (Federal News Network)
  • The Biden administration just launched a new website to combat ransomware after a scourge of attacks this year. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice this week launched, as a “one-stop hub” for resources from the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and other federal organizations. The website includes guidance on reporting attacks, ransomware alerts, and announcements about actions against hacking groups. Law enforcement agencies want organizations to report ransomware attacks, but advise against paying ransoms to discourage further campaigns.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs at last has a permanent deputy secretary. The Senate confirmed Donald Remy with a 91-8 vote. VA hasn’t had a permanent deputy secretary for the last year-and-a-half. Some senators were especially anxious to confirm Remy because he is supposed to be the top official in charge of VA’s troubled electronic health record modernization. Remy is an Army veteran and the former chief operating officer of the NCAA.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking public input in crafting its return-to-the-office policies. The agency set up a public commenting site, asking about how people have interacted with EEOC during the time when all its employees were teleworking, and how people feel about online interactions versus in-person. The agency wants to know if what it calls certain communities were able to access it, and even whether the EEOC ought to have more, small offices scattered around the country. Comments are open until July 29.
  • Agencies have a long to-do list to implement the president’s recent diversity and inclusion executive order. The Office of Personnel Management is developing an assessment tool to help agencies evaluate the current state of diversity and inclusion within their organizations. That is one of the key requirements of the executive order. Agencies are also reviewing their own demographic data. They say they need different kinds of demographic data to better understand how their employees are feeling. (Federal News Network).
  • The Defense Department will soon be releasing a monumental strategy that would impact almost every facet of the military. The Pentagon will have its most intricate and deliberate plans to counteracting and adapting to climate change finished by September. The strategy stems from an executive order implemented by the Biden administration. DoD is focusing on five lines of effort to integrate climate change into its future defense strategies and to protect its assets. Those efforts include building resilient infrastructure, creating a climate-ready workforce that prepares for future weather events and strengthening supply chains.  (Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to raise rates this summer, even after lawmakers asked the agency to postpone the increase. Once the new rates go into effect, USPS projects mail volume will decrease annually by about 2%, but will bring in $1.7 billion in additional revenue. That is more than a 4% increase in what the agency currently brings in.
  • New technology in the Federal Aviation Administration will improve the tracking of space vehicles. A prototype of the Space Data Integrator will automate the delivery of more accurate data on space vehicle position, altitude and speed. Space operators will share this data, which has until now been manually collected, on a voluntary basis. FAA is still refining the prototype’s requirements.
  • The Department of Commerce would have to conduct assessments on data localization under a new bill in Congress.  Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced the SHIELD Act, which would require the Federal Trade Commission to study the impact of e-commerce, data sharing and data flow on the U.S. economy. Their reports would determine the benefits of freely transferred data, as well as any digital trade barriers that might exist. The assessments would also include a summary of data localization regulations.

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