Most federal employees are now in the continuous evaluation system, but how do you gauge if its working or not?

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  • Continuous evaluation is a new reality for most security clearance holders, but an audit said agencies need some way to measure its success. The Government Accountability Office reports the Director of National Intelligence has not yet assessed the effectiveness of continuous evaluation. GAO said Congress should consider requiring the ODNI to set metrics for the investigative process. In October, the Defense Department announced all its clearance holders were enrolled in continuous evaluation. The process uses a series of automated records checks. It alerts investigators to potential adverse information about clearance holders, such as criminal activity.
  • The legal landscape for the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for contractors continues to evolve. The Biden administration is appealing last week’s decision from a federal district court in southern Georgia. The judge there issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the vaccine mandate for contractors. The administration is also appealing an injunction that blocked the mandate in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. A Kentucky judge denied an initial appeal from the government to stay the case. And the state of Texas also sued the administration over the contractor vaccine mandate. That case is stayed.
  • Active duty military members may have another vaccine mandate to worry about. The Defense Department said it is considering requiring all active duty service members to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as the Army is about to be the last service to hit its deadline mandating full vaccination of all troops. The discussion comes as studies show vaccines start to wear off after six months, and as the Omicron variant, which has vaccine resistant properties, is starting to rear its head in the United States. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the President, said boosters may bring better protection against Omicron. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Health Agency set up a new organization to oversee a new organization of consolidated healthcare resources for the Military Health System. The Small Market and Stand-Alone Military Medical Treatment Facility Organization is responsible for the management, operations, business and strategy of 17 small markets and 41 stand-alone military medical facilities. The change is part of the Defense Department plan to transition all medical clinics and hospitals to DHA.
  • President Joe Biden is nominating Erik Raven as the second highest civilian official in the Navy. Raven currently serves as the majority clerk for the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He has also served as an advisor to a handful of senators. The White House is also nominating Kristyn Jones as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller. Jones is currently the managing director at KPMG’s federal advisory practice.
  • The Defense Department finally starts to get comfortable with failure, in the name of digital innovation. Les Benito, acting chief of the product management office at the Hosting and Computer Center for the Defense Information System Agency, said DoD is learning to be more agile and standardized with data so it can be used across more of the department. Speaking at a web event Monday, Benito said the idea behind the now shuttered JEDI cloud computing contract was to let DoD test a wide range of capabilities with cloud. But much has changed in the three or so years since JEDI was first written.
  • The annual defense bill looks to tighten public-private cybersecurity collaboration. The 2022 NDAA would set up a pilot program where the government can work with internet companies to disrupt hackers. The pilot would be run by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It would also have input from the Pentagon and the White House’s office of the national cyber director. The program would be voluntary for so-called “internet ecosystem companies.” It would be aimed at ensuring their platforms, systems and services aren’t leveraged by malicious cyber actors. The House passed the NDAA last week, while the Senate is set to vote on it this week. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration is back on the hook to test other e-commerce platform models. After telling Congress in a report over the summer that testing the e-procurement and e-commerce models wasn’t cost effective, lawmakers are saying not so fast. A provision in the 2022 Defense Authorization Act requires GSA to begin testing other e-commerce portal models and provide a report to congressional defense committees with a summary of their findings and testing results. GSA launched the e-marketplace models in June 2020 with three companies, and currently have 13 agencies using the online buying approach.
  • The Technology Modernization Fund may be flush with new money from Congress, but the program management office is under water. The TMF PMO isn’t covering its costs to manage the governmentwide effort. It spent more than $2.8 million since 2018 and has only recovered just under $809,000, meaning it is carrying a $2 million deficit. The Government Accountability Office found in a new report that the PMO is struggling financially because the amount of fees it was supposed to collect from agencies dropped by more than $1.1 million. This decrease came from TMF recipients changing the scope of their projects and taking less money than they were initially awarded.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the federal regulator of housing financiers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has not tested its National Mortgage Database contingency plan for the last couple years, due to what staff said was a lack of resources. FHFA is required to annually test the effectiveness of its information security procedures, and have a plan for continuity of operations in an emergency. But FHFA’s inspector general found the plan for the National Mortgage Database wasn’t updated or tested since 2019. The agency’s Office of Technology and Information Management said it lacked enough resources to test everything, and that their request for more information security resources was denied.
  • The Biden administration is looking to make public-facing services across the federal government easier to access. The executive order directs agencies to coordinate work on services that reflect common life experiences, such as planning retirement, having a child or applying for a small business loan. Jason Miller, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, said the EO helps individuals navigate the red tape and bureaucracy when they need help the most. “That’s a process that should be simple and seamless. We’re one enterprise and we should operate accordingly.” (Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service is close to finalizing a collective bargaining agreement with the American Postal Workers Union and its more than 200,000 members. Members would get a nearly 4% pay raise as part of the three-year tentative agreement and career employees would get six Cost of Living Allowances. The contract extends layoff protections to 72,000 career employees who have been on the agency’s rolls since at least September 2021. The agreement would convert all non-career staff in good standing to career status after 24 months.
  • The Office of Personnel Management helped NASA hire a new class of astronauts for the first time. Over 12,000 people applied to be a part of what NASA is calling the Artemis Generation. OPM said it worked with NASA HR specialists and current astronauts to design an application and assessment process to screen candidates. NASA used those tools to choose 10 finalists to this new astronaut class. The candidates went through an intense, multi-step hiring process. The 2021 group is the first astronaut class in four years.

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