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Former President Donald Trump’s executive order directing agencies to repeal two old regulations for every new one added didn’t make much of an impact on agency rulemaking. The Government Accountability Office finds the Trump administration tracked compliance with the EO by comparing all agency deregulation activity against only new significant regulations with an impact greater than $100 million on the economy. President Joe Biden rescinded the executive order on his first day in office.
The Biden administration says federal contractors have to make a good faith effort to comply with vaccine requirements. The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force says agencies may terminate their contracts with companies who don’t. It’s up to each contractor to decide how to discipline their own employees who refuse to become fully vaccinated. The administration says contractor employees shouldn’t face discipline while their medical or religious accommodation requests are pending. The task force has advised agencies to approach pending exception requests for federal employees in the same way. (Federal News Network)
Agencies will give paid administrative leave to federal employees to get their booster shots. Employees will get up to four hours to get a booster or additional COVID-19 vaccine dose. That’s the latest from the Biden administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Booster shots aren’t yet a requirement of the Biden administration’s federal vaccine policy for employees. Employees who got a booster between now and the time the first shots were given emergency authorization back in late September are eligible for retroactive leave. (Federal News Network)
Republicans on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee want to know how VA’s workforce vaccination campaign is going. Employees at the Veterans Health Administration had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 8. But the committee says it hasn’t received any updates on how many employees have complied. Senators say the information is necessary to ensure VA has the capacity to care for veterans. They want to know how many employees and contractors haven’t complied with the mandate and what VA’s plan is for disciplining them.
The Pentagon says civilians who wish to apply for exemption from the COIVD-19 vaccination must do so by Nov. 8. The Defense Department is requiring that all of its civilian workers get inoculated by Nov. 22 or face punishments and possible termination. Civilians can request exemptions only for medical or religious purposes and must fill out a form explaining the reason for requesting the exemption.
The Defense Department has been taking climate change very seriously in recent months, and now it’s bringing in new personnel to address it. The Pentagon will be bringing in a climate change czar in the next few weeks. The Defense Department’s top policy official says he’s reorganizing his office in response to new strategies from the department that address extreme weather and climate change. The new position will oversee a wide range of environmental issues from warfighting in a world effected by climate change to mitigating DoD’s climate footprint. The Pentagon recently released a strategy that mandates the effects of climate change be taken into account for almost everything the department does. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Information Systems Agency is taking on big data. DISA just established a chief data office to help get the agency toward artificial intelligence and machine learning. DISA officials want to use AI to help automate the military’s cybersecurity defenses. But the agency is still in the early stages of merely understanding where all of its data resides. The end goal is to use big data to drive decisions across the agency. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department is turning to academia to solve the challenge of how best to support the commercialization of technology developed for the military. DoD’s Research and Engineering office awarded the George Mason University School of Business a $671,000 contract to develop policy recommendations to accelerate this goal. In the 2020 Defense authorization bill, Congress required DoD to improve the commercialization and innovation of dual-use technology. Under the contract, GMU will review the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and defense laboratories’ contracting and intellectual property management policies and their effects on commercialization and further innovation in dual-use technology.
A bid protest is putting a stop to another mega cloud procurement. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are battling it out again for a cloud services contract, and this time it’s from the National Security Agency. Once again, the award is tied up in a protest. The Government Accountability Office ruled last week that certain aspects of NSA’s award to AWS were unreasonable. GAO recommends that NSA reevaluate proposals and make a new source selection determination. GAO didn’t release its full decision due to security concerns so details remain sparse about what NSA did wrong. The agency awarded AWS the contract called Wild and Stormy that could be worth as much as $10 billion in August.
The Postal Service is asking its regulator to dismiss calls to review its entire 10-year reform plan. USPS tells the Postal Regulatory Commission its 10-year reform plan consists of actions it anticipates making over the next few years, and does not rise to the level of a nationwide change in service. That would require the commission to review the plan in its entirety. USPS says the complaint brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia seeks to interfere with its long-term planning. The commission is giving the states until Nov. 10 to respond to USPS’ motion to dismiss.
Industry has until mid-December to comment on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s latest cyber publication. This time, it’s draft guidance on consumer software labeling for cybersecurity. The idea is to give buyers a better idea of whether the software they’re purchasing is secure. NIST’s draft document provides a minimum set of standards for the labeling program. The effort is one of the many projects outlined in President Biden’s May cybersecurity executive order.