Navy’s top doctor says it may be time to require COVID-19 vaccine for service members

In today's Federal Newscast, the Navy surgeon general says he favor a vaccine mandate for military members.

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  • The Navy’s top doctor thinks the time has come to make COVID vaccines mandatory for military members. The president and defense secretary have the final call on whether to invoke the legal authorities that’d be needed to mandate vaccines during the emergency use authorization stage. But Rear. Adm. Bruce Gillingham, the Navy surgeon general, said he favors a mandate. “We are seeing an uptick in cases that mirrors what we’re seeing nationally. And it makes sense to me that sense we have such a safe and effective tool against the virus in general that we do move out as quickly as possible to make it mandatory.” Ultimately, Defense health officials say they view COVID as a long-term threat that’ll need to be continually managed through vaccines, much like annual influenza. (DVIDS)
  • The Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board are on track to finally have some new members. President Joe Biden plans to nominate four new members to the Thrift Investment Board and two for FLRA. Among the nominees will be Javier Saade, the managing partner of Impact Master Holdings and Venture Partner at Fenway Summer, to be the chairman of the investment board. Biden also plans to name former chairwoman of the Merit Systems Protection Board Susan Tsui Grundmann to the FLRA.
  • President Joe Biden is ahead of the pace in filling key management roles in his administration. The president plans to nominate Biniam Gebre, a former political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Gebre would join the administration after spending the last four years with Accenture Federal Services where he was a senior managing director and head of management consulting. If the Senate confirms Gebre, he would replace Michael Wooten, who left in January, and was only OFPP administrator for 16 months. President Barack Obama didn’t nominate his OFPP administrator until October. (Federal News Network)
  • President Joe Biden’s picks to run the Census Bureau and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are headed for a Senate floor vote. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Urban Institute vice president Robert Santos to lead the Census Bureau, Ed Gonzalez, sheriff of Harris County, Texas, to lead ICE. Santos, if confirmed, would lead the bureau for a term lasting through 2026, and would lead much of the work behind the next decennial count.
  • David Honey is nominated at the Defense Department’s next deputy undersecretary for research and engineering. The position was only created a couple of years ago, and focuses on development and oversight of technology. Honey is currently the special assistant to the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He also previously served as the director of science and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. (White House)
  • Commissioners working on a panel reviewing sexual assault in the military are worried some recommendations may be left behind. Most of the talk around the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military is focused on taking sex crimes and other crimes out of the chain of command. However, Kayla Williams and other commissioners said the Defense Department and Congress need to do more than just change the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Williams said DoD needs to actually understand the problem by educating command teams, beefing up prevention measures and keeping track of cyber harassment. DoD has taken some immediate steps recommended by the panel like making sexual harassment a crime. (Federal News Network)
  • More than half of women soldiers who report sexual harassment said they are repeatedly harassed. That’s according to a new RAND Corporation study. The organization has been doing multiple deep dives on the effects of sexual assault and harassment in the military. The most prevalent forms of harassment included unwanted sexual advances, being mistreated and ignored and being told that they are not as good as men at their jobs.
  • Air Force Material Command will take on the unique, first-time role of providing services to support the Space Force. The new structure means AFMC will provide a wide variety of base support services, including professional development opportunities to Space Force facilities. The Air Force Personnel Center will continue to support all airmen in the Space Force, but the AFMC will step in when major command authority is needed.
  • Inefficient hiring practices are hurting the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s according to a report from the Office of Inspector General. Manual data input has made HUD’s hiring information inconsistent and unreliable, the IG found. Hiring managers and administrative staff also received limited to no training on hiring processes. These shortcomings have compounded HUD’s human capital challenges, which the IG identified last year. Auditors recommend the chief human capital officer develop training on the hiring process and document methodologies on how to calculate its hiring metrics.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is rethinking the way its vets cyber talent. DHS is standing up a Network Operations and Security Center to enable faster response to cyber incidents. Chief Information Officer Eric Hysen said DHS is working with the U.S. Digital Service and reconfigure the way it vets job applicants. Hysen said the Subject Matter Expert Qualification (SMEQA) program, is giving DHS “much higher level of talent.” USDS has also used this process to help agencies hire data scientists and other data professionals. (Federal News Network)
  • The government would have to take on a more muscular role in the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure under a new bill advancing in the Senate. A bill approved by the Senate Homeland Security Committee this week would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to lead federal efforts to secure the automated control systems that run much of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The legislation would require CISA to maintain threat hunting and incident response capabilities for industrial control systems, and also provide technical assistance to industry and other stakeholders. The bill comes after the Biden administration said it would develop new standards for critical infrastructure cybersecurity in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack.
  • The Department of Homeland Security wants to make AI trustworthy. That’s one of three major objectives laid out in the department’s new S&T Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Strategic Plan. DHS said its investments should help develop solutions for issues like privacy protection, AI bias, and adversarial machine learning. DHS also plans to invest in AI research to meet its agencies’ various missions, and build an interdisciplinary workforce by recruiting new experts and training current personnel to improve their AI and machine learning competence.
  • The final rule detailing how the Federal Acquisition Security Council will recommend removing risky technology products is slated to be released around Sept. 1. Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer and chairman of the FASC (Faask), said the council has been meeting and testing its approach ahead of the final rule. The FASC issued the interim rule last September. DeRusha said the council now is focusing on its 2022 strategic plan and other policies and guidance for agencies to improve how the government uses risk information to secure its supply chain.

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