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The IRS warns its IT systems are severely underfunded, and must take extraordinary measures to keep it running. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) the agency spent $2 billion of appropriated funds on operations support IT this year. But the IRS needed to borrow $600 million from its enforcement division and user fees to support additional IT costs. IRS launched a six-year IT modernization plan in 2019, but Congress has only given the agency about half of the funds it requested.
The Pentagon is looking into moving some of its funds around this year to help Afghan refugees fleeing from the Taliban. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks says the Defense Department is already looking into how it can change its 2022 budget to aid Afghanis or to put anomalies in a continuing resolution. Hicks says DoD will have funds built into the coming 2023 budget for those leaving Afghanistan.
The Defense Department fired mass amounts of military experts earlier this year, now it’s ready to bring some back. After former President Donald Trump installed political allies in the Pentagon’s advisory boards just before leaving office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thought it was time to take a look at the whole system of 42 committees. He cleaned house and conducted a comprehensive review of the boards. Now 16 of those boards have passed muster as vital to the military and are ready to begin staffing again. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks says she hopes to have all of the necessary boards back in action by the end of the year. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department wants to hear from small businesses on the challenges they face in working with DoD. In a new federal register notice released this week, DoD asks for suggestions on how it could foster more small business participation in the procurement process. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks recently said DoD is committed to lowering the barriers for smaller companies in the defense supply chain. Small business participation in the defense industrial base has decreased by more than 40% over the last decade.
The Commerce Department is looking for nominees to join its National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee. The committee will advise President Joe Biden and agencies on the state of the AI workforce, AI research and development, and where the U.S. stands in terms of global AI competition. Congress mandated creating the committee as part of the National AI Initiative Act it passed last year. The committee will include members from academia, industry, and federal laboratories. Commerce will accept nominee suggestions through October 25.
OMB’s new draft zero trust strategy doesn’t come with any new funding. OMB set an aggressive three-year deadline for agencies to reach minimum levels of maturity under its zero trust draft strategy. Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer, says the management side of OMB is working with the budget side to ensure these priorities are funded. “It’s time for everyone to take a hard look at what they are doing, make sure it is the right plan for now and forward, and make sure it aligns to this new strategic direction we are putting out.” DeRusha says that means relooking at cyber initiatives in both the short and long terms. (Federal News Network)
The Biden administration taps another state and local technology executive to take over a key federal role. The Transportation Department named Cordell Schachter as its new chief information officer. He replaces Ryan Cote, who left in January. Schachter comes to Transportation after spending the last 13 years as the New York City Department of Transportation chief technology officer and CIO. Before joining the state government, Schachter worked at several large companies including IBM and Siemens. He inherits a $3.5 billion IT budget and 31 major projects at DoT.
Privacy groups are pressing the Biden administration to revive a surveillance watchdog agency. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board currently lacks a quorum, meaning it can’t start new projects or issue new reports. Privacy and technology trade groups like the ACLU are urging President Biden to appoint new members to the board so it can fulfill its mission to oversee surveillance programs established in the wake of 9/11. The board is also being looked at as a potential check on the government’s increasing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. (Federal News Network)
Fewer veterans died by suicide in 2019 compared to the previous year. That’s according to the latest national suicide prevention report from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly 400 fewer veterans died by suicide in 2019 compared to 2018. Suicide among women veterans is down almost 13%. That’s the biggest drop in 17 years for the population. VA says it’s not seeing increases in suicide-related indicators during the pandemic. The progress report earned praise from VA Secretary Denis McDonough and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders. But veteran suicide rates continue to outpace those in the general U.S. population.
20 years after 9/11, and some transportation security officers are renewing their calls for higher pay. The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would expand collective bargaining and workplace rights and move TSA officers into the General Schedule pay scale. Officers say low pay is driving up turnover, especially during the pandemic. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked TSA to explore how it could make some changes administratively. The union says the secretary is currently reviewing those proposals. (Federal News Network)
For the first time since the pandemic began, Supreme Court Justices are now back to hearing in-person arguments. Courtroom access will be limited to the Justices, essential Court personnel, counsel in the scheduled cases, and journalists with full-time press credentials issued by the Supreme Court. Sessions will not be open to the public however, so the court is hoping to be able to provide a live audio feed.
* If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.”