Many federal agencies pitching in for Hurricane Ida response

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  • Agencies are pulling out all the stops in the response to Hurricane Ida. The Federal Aviation Administration is working with Louisiana and Mississippi electric companies to authorize the use of surveillance drones to assess Ida’s damage to energy infrastructure. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security are making any satellite imagery available to assist in assessing the damage by the Category 4 storm. And the Federal Communications Commission worked with cellular providers to initiate their Cooperative Framework Agreement. That agreement allows customers with one carrier to go to another provider if that first provider is down. This lets users gain cell phone service no matter the carrier.
  • The Postal Service is bringing back its mask policy for employees. The policy requires USPS employees to wear masks in public-facing settings when there is a state or local face-covering order in place, or when employees can’t socially distance in the workplace. Deputy Postmaster General Doug Tulino, who also serves as the agency’s chief human resources officer, says facilities should ensure they have an adequate supply of masks available for employees, and that employees who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons should contact their supervisors. (Federal News Network)
  • More than 5,200 National Guard personnel have been activated on the Gulf Coast to help respond to Hurricane Ida. The majority of the Guard troops are in Louisiana, while others have been activated in Mississippi, Texas and Alabama. The National Guard is bringing high-water vehicles, rotary lift capacity and other transportation support to the response efforts. Ida came ashore in Louisiana as a Category 4 Storm on Sunday, causing significant damage and power outages. As of Monday evening, Ida had crossed over into Mississippi and weakened to a tropical depression.
  • The New Orleans-based National Finance Center says it’ll process payroll as planned later this week. NFC is open following Hurricane Ida. It will temporarily operate out of an alternative work site in Bossier City, Louisiana while recovery efforts are underway. NFC will process payroll in two waves this Thursday and Friday, with paychecks going out to federal employees next week. Customers trying to reach NFC may experience longer wait times than usual with widespread power outages in Louisiana and other nearby states. The National Finance Center handles payroll and HR services for several large federal agencies.
  • The Biden administration will launch a new fellowship program, this time for entry-level tech talent. The General Services Administration will run the new two-year paid fellowship program. Candidates with software engineering, cybersecurity, data science and other tech-skills should apply for positions in the new Digital Corps. Applications will go live this fall. Fellows will start work near the beginning of this upcoming fiscal year. They’ll work for five initial host agencies that include GSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Federal News Network)
  • The Biden administration is telling agencies to invest in readiness and prevention for future pandemics. That includes accelerating vaccine testing and production, as well as improving federal data infrastructure to track public health metrics. That’s just one of the science and technology priorities the White House is outlining to agencies ahead of budget planning for fiscal 2023. The administration is also focused on climate change mitigation and promoting inclusion in federal science and technology programs.
  • Federal agencies would set up a new cyber threat information hub under a bill being considered by a House committee this week. A provision in the Armed Services Committee’s draft defense policy bill would create a Cyber Threat Information Collaboration Environment under the Department of Homeland Security. The system would provide limited access to data about cybersecurity risks and threats from across government, including intelligence agencies. The idea came from the congressionally chartered Cyberspace Solarium Commission. The House Armed Services Committee will mark up the bill this Wednesday.
  • Federal cyber experts get ready to test your skills against the best of the best. Cyber forensics and exploitation and vulnerability assessments are the skills that federal cyber experts will be demonstrating at the third annual President’s Cup Cybersecurity Challenge. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency yesterday revealed the plan for the annual governmentwide competition. This year’s challenges includes three tracks. One for teams of two to five people who will have eight hours to complete as many qualifying round challenges as they can. Under the two individual tracks, each person will have 4 hours per track to solve as many qualifying round challenges as they can. Registration opened August 30 and the qualifying round starts September 13 for teams and September 20th for individuals.

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