Chief Data Officers Council gets suggestions on where it should go next

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  • The Chief Data Officers Council gets feedback on where it should go from here. The CDO Council received nearly 60 sets of comments in response to a request for information it issued a month ago. Among the suggestions, the Federation of American Scientists urges the Office of Management and Budget to create an assistant director for information policy position that oversees data work across the Executive Office of the President and the CDO Council. Meanwhile, coalition of state CDOs urges their federal colleagues to publish a catalog of high-value data sets. That catalog, they urge, should include any legal limits on sharing that data.
  • The Biden administration has a preview of its highly-anticipated President’s Management Agenda. Three priorities top the administration’s new management agenda — strengthening the workforce, building better customer service, and improving the business of government. The Biden administration says it wanted to focus on three, simple priorities, not dozens and dozens of new initiatives. It will roll out more details and specific goals in the coming weeks and months. The administration says these priorities will help federal agencies build capacity and bring more people into public service. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies who applied for technology modernization funds to update their systems will have to wait just a bit longer. TMF Executive Director Raylene Yung says requests from applications now exceed $2 billion. Congress allocated $1 billion in the American Rescue Plan last spring. Speaking to the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, Yung said award announcements are still at least a few weeks off. TMF board member Sanjay Gupta of the Small Business Administration said the board has doubled its meetings to twice a week to consider all the applications.
  • Top House and Senate congressional leaders want a new review of FBI employee whistleblower protections. The request comes from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), along with Congressmen Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). They’re asking the Government Accountability Office to review the FBI’s procedures. They want to know whether a 2016 law that tried to expand the number and type of officials who can receive protected whistleblower disclosures from FBI employees has made any difference. Congressional leaders say they’ve heard complaints from FBI whistleblowers. They say the bureau is one of the worst places to blow the whistle. (Federal News Network)
  • An IRS watchdog urges Congress to pass legislation that would give the agency the authority to set minimum standards for federal tax preparers. National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins says that without this legislation, taxpayers risk overpaying on their taxes, or underpaying and risking IRS enforcement actions. The IRS stood up a program in 2011 to evaluate paid tax preparers, but U.S. District and appeals courts found the agency didn’t have the authority to lead the program without legislation from Congress. Collins first urged lawmakers to introduce and pass the legislation as part of her annual list of recommendations for 2021.
  • The Pentagon is taking new steps to address economic insecurity among its lowest-paid troops. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says it’s a long-term problem, but for now, he’s ordered an increase in housing allowances for servicemembers in areas where rental costs have increased 10% or more in the past year. DoD will also reimburse members for long-term hotel stays in locations with serious housing shortages. Austin also ordered Pentagon officials to draft a strategy for increasing food security within the next 90 days. (Federal News Network)
  • The military’s commercial tech accelerator has a new ethical framework for artificial intelligence. The Defense Innovation Unit released its Responsible AI Guidelines this week. The document provides a framework for how AI companies and Pentagon program managers can integrate ethics into prototyping and acquisition programs. The Defense Department’s ethical principles for AI include fairness, accountability, and transparency. DIU says it refined the guidelines over the past year, using them in military prototyping projects ranging from predictive health to underwater autonomy.
  • President Biden has nominated Kenneth Wainstein as under secretary of intelligence and analysis for the Department of Homeland Security. Wainstein was previously the assistant attorney general for national security. He also served as President George W. Bush’s Homeland Security advisor. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis is the only intelligence community component charged with exchanging intel with state, local, and private sector partners. Under the Biden administration, the office has been at the center of efforts to confront domestic violent extremists.
  • The Energy Department also sees some presidential appointees start this week. Gina Coplon-Newfield, is the department’s new chief of staff in the Office of Policy — a division which aims to facilitate the administration’s zero-emissions and energy equity goals. And Miranda Dixon is director of advance in the Office of Management — an office that leads in project and acquisition management, oversees Energy’s headquarters complex, and provides administrative support to department employees in the Washington, D.C. area. So far, 59% of DOE’s presidential appointees are women, 56% are people of color, and 19% of staff identify as LGBTQ+.
  • The Agriculture Department announces three more names for senior positions. Shefali Mehta is the new Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Marcia Bunger will be administrator for the Risk Management Agency. And Colin Finan is the new senior advisor for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. While Shefali Mehta and Colin Finan come to USDA from the private sector, Marcia Bunger was previously at the department’s Farm Service Agency for 18 years. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the new leaders support USDA’s “commitment to advancing science, research and education, and serving the Nation’s farmers and ranchers.”
  • Are shared services for zero trust authentication on their way? Steven Hernandez, chief information security officer for the Education Department, thinks they might be. Education already has data-sharing initiatives with IRS and the Social Security Administration, among other partners. That data can also be used for authentication methods to strengthen cybersecurity in a zero trust environment. Hernandez said that dynamic could lay the groundwork for shared services around identity and authentication. He pointed to Login.gov as an example of how that could work. (Federal News Network)
  • National Parks will be leading the way in green transportation. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a new pilot project to test self-driving electric shuttles at national parks. The project will also include installing electric vehicle charging stations and electric scooters for visitors. The project is being funded by the new infrastructure bill, which included up to $1.5 billion in funding per year for the National Park Service. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is out with its Climate Action Plan. The strategy, announced last week by HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, is in response to President Biden’s January executive order to tackle the climate crisis. The plan is focused on providing support to communities that bear the biggest burden of climate change, revising environmental review policies to ensure healthy housing, and creating more green jobs. The agency has established a new committee with leadership within HUD to track implementation of the plan.

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