DoD looking into what happens if the most important briefcase in the world goes missing

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  • The Office of Personnel Management broke out cybersecurity from the 22-10 job series in 2018 and now data science, data management, software engineering and software development may be next. The House Oversight and Reform Committee passed a bill earlier this week that would require OPM to establish occupational series for these positions 270 days after the legislation becomes law. The bill from Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) now moves to the full House for consideration. There is no Senate companion bill.
  • The energy sector is getting an upgraded cybersecurity tool from the federal government. The Energy Department released version 2.0 of the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model this week. The model was first released in 2012. It’s designed to help energy sector businesses understand cyber risks to both their information technology and operational technology. Since April, DOE has been working on a coordinated initiative to improve the cybersecurity of electric utilities’ industrial control systems.
  • Contractors would be subject to a mandatory cyber reporting system under a new bill in the Senate. The Cyber Incident Notification Act of 2021 is the latest attempt to get organizations to notify the government when they’ve been hacked. It would require federal contractors, agencies and critical infrastructure operators to report incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 24 hours of discovery. Proponents said it’s high time for the requirements after a string of high-profile cyber attacks in recent months, including the SolarWinds breach and the Colonial Pipeline ransomware shutdown. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is looking into how safe the most important briefcase in the world is. At all times there is someone carrying an inconspicuous satchel near the president. Nicknamed the nuclear football, the briefcase contains the codes the president needs to conduct a nuclear strike. The Defense Department inspector general is undergoing an evaluation to find out how the Pentagon would respond if the briefcase was stolen, lost or compromised. The DoD IG said it will determine if the Pentagon has the proper procedures in place to respond to such an event.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee has finished its work on the annual defense policy bill. The full contents of the bill aren’t yet known — that’s because the Senate committee, unlike its House counterpart, debates the measure behind closed doors. But in a statement Wednesday night, Senators said the bill includes major changes to the military criminal justice system championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The precise changes still haven’t been disclosed, but an earlier version of the bill proposed to remove all felony prosecutions from the military chain of command.
  • The Air Force won more than $24 million for land conservation projects. The funds will go toward coastal restoration, forest preservation and land protection. These projects will take place at Tyndall Air Force base in Florida, White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. The Department of Defense awarded the funds as part of its Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, which enables military services and defense agencies to take on environmental projects at their facilities.
  • The military combatant commands completed a series of experiments aimed using artificial intelligence across the globe for joint capabilities. The Global Information Dominance Experiments focused on cost-effective data solutions to increase decision making through faster warnings and indications. The experiments also evaluated the ability to respond to contested logistics planning and used AI for more effective global coordination.
  • The State Department is ready to jump into the RPA pool with both feet. The State Department has 11 possible uses for robotics process automation to go with its eight projects that are already in process. State said in a sources sought notice that it wants to apply bots to improve and consolidate its tier one help desk services. That includes everything from automated account services to automated account deletion to the creation of external accounts. State plans to release the final solicitation on or about July 26 and make an award no later than Sept. 30.
  • Former State Department leadership said it’s time to rethink careers in the Foreign Service. The State Department has run into problems retaining a diverse pool of mid-career talent. Former department leaders recommended Congress take a closer look at reforming the agency’s up-or-out system of promotions, and look at ways for outside experts to lend their talents to the Foreign Service for a few years at a time. Former Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said the department risks losing out on future generations of talent without workforce reform. (Federal News Network)
  • President Joe Biden is expected to name a career member of the Senior Foreign Service to serve as the State Department’s undersecretary for management. Biden’s pick, John Bass, currently serves as a senior adviser for the department’s Foreign Service Institute. He previously served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Republic of Georgia. Bass also supported U.S. efforts to combat terrorism in Iraq and Syria.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has sworn in Donald Remy as its new deputy secretary. He began his new job last week. Remy’s confirmation shuffled around a few other leaders within VA. Carolyn Clancy was the department’s acting deputy secretary. She returned to her previous position in charge of education and affiliate partners at the Veterans Health Administration. Steve Liebermann will lead the Veterans Health Administration on an acting basis. He has temporarily replaced Richard Stone, who resigned from the position earlier this month.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs won’t deploy its new electronic health record to any more sites this year. VA hopes it’ll finalize a new deployment schedule for the EHR program by the end of the year. It’s still addressing patient safety concerns and other technical bugs with the system at its first site. That still has some members of Congress concerned. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), “I’m not convinced yet. I’m not a believer, folks. We have major problems up there. We have billions that have been sent out, and you haven’t convinced me yet. Sorry.” (Federal News Network)
  • A bill in Congress would require agencies to collect information on gender identity and sexual orientation in their surveys of citizens. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act, which would have federal population surveys include questions about gender identity and sexual orientation for all members of households. Participation in these questions are voluntary. Agencies would also have to include this information in any report that relies on demographic data. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Ill.) introduced a similar bill in 2019, but it never gained traction.

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