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The military is sending three teams of medical officials to some of the hardest hit areas in the nation to help with COVID-19 relief. About 60 medical professionals including nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will support civilian hospitals in Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama. The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested the help. There are currently six other teams working in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
The Defense Department is changing the names of some of its most high profile bases and it wants the public’s help. The commission tasked to provide Congress with recommendations for changing the names of military bases and other assets is encouraging the public to comment on how it should go about its business. The commission is looking at renaming or removing titles that commemorate Confederate officials. It plans on looking at the names of streets, buildings, weapons, planes and other equipment as well. The chair of the commission said it wants to work with local communities to determine names that reflect the military of today.
The White House has a rough blueprint to help agencies better prepare for future pandemics. President Biden ordered an all-of government review of U.S. bio-preparedness policies back in January. The Biden administration said multiple agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the departments of Defense, Energy and Veterans Affairs should form a centralized mission control unit of sorts to respond to future pandemics. The administration also recommends strengthening investments in public health laboratories and increasing regulatory capacity at the Food and Drug Administration.
The Biden administration wants to add billions of dollars in supplemental funding to an upcoming continuing resolution. The White House is eyeing $14 billion to respond to storms, wildfires and other natural disasters that happened before Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coast and parts of the Northeast last week. It also believes it’ll need more funding for Ida response efforts, somewhere north of $10-billion. The administration is also asking for $6 billion for Afghanistan resettlement efforts. Congress must pass some sort of temporary stop-gap funding measure before September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. (Federal News Network)
House lawmakers want to lock in a five-year tenure for the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The CISA Leadership Act would codify the five-year term into law. It would also reaffirm that the position is presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed. Lawmakers said they want to ensure CISA has stable and consistent leadership during a time of rising cyber attacks. In July, Jen Easterly was sworn in as just the second permanent director of CISA since 2018, when it was established as a stand-alone agency under the Department of Homeland Security.
Agencies have new guidance to consider as they hammer away at tasks under President Biden’s cybersecurity executive order. Agencies, contractors and the public have until Oct. 1 to comment on a new Zero Trust Maturity Model and a new Cloud Security Technical Reference Architecture. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released both documents this week. CISA wants to know whether the new maturity model is helping agencies come up with their zero trust implementation plans required by the cyber EO. CISA is also seeking feedback on whether any aspects of the cloud security architecture should be expanded. After receiving comments, CISA said it plans on updating both documents.
The Technology Modernization Fund program management office has a new executive director as the competition for the $1 billion in funding it received last spring heats up. The General Services Administration, which runs the TMF PMO, named Raylene Yung to lead the office. Yung comes to GSA after serving as a member of the Biden-Harris transition team, focusing on technology priorities. She also was the co-founder and CEO of the U.S. Digital Response, a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide support in areas such as vaccination equity, unemployment insurance, housing security and food access. Yung replaces Elizabeth Cain, who was the TMF PMO director since April 2018.
The State Department’s IT modernization delays are making it hard for passport services staff to telework. The State Department spent $59 million on passport-related IT modernization projects over the past decade. But its inspector general finds the department made little progress to show for it. The IG report said delays standing up an Online Passport Renewal System left passport services staff stuck with paper-based processes not suited for telework during the COVID-19 pandemic. That forced them to return to the office sooner than the rest of the State Department workforce. (Federal News Network)
IT problems at the IRS made it harder for the agency to address a backlog of nearly 8 million paper-based tax returns. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration finds the IRS erroneously charged more than $45,000 in tax penalties for paper returns received on-time. TIGTA said the IRS flagged an IT issue in June 2020 to fix the penalty processing issue, but then took until January 2021 to actually implement the change.
OMB details its vision on what zero trust in government would look like. Agencies and vendors have two weeks to offer feedback to the Office of Management and Budget on its draft zero trust strategy. As part of implementing the cybersecurity executive order from May, OMB outlined how agencies can better secure networks, applications and data using the tools and capabilities that make up a zero trust architecture. Among the draft requirements, OMB sets a three-year deadline for full implementation of zero trust, requires the use of an enterprise single sign-on capability and mandates agencies segment their networks. Comments on the draft strategy are due September 21st.
Essential workers of the Coronavirus pandemic are getting a nod from the Labor Department. DOL announced the induction of those frontline workers into the department’s Hall of Honor. Since it was created in 1988, the hall recognizes Americans whose contributions have elevated working conditions, wages and overall quality of life of families. Other members include 9/11 rescue workers and Helen Keller.