To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
The 2022 version of the Defense authorization bill could be up for a final vote in the Senate this week. In a letter to colleagues, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expects a vote by the end of the week. That chamber’s version of the bill still hasn’t reached the Senate floor. That means this week’s vote is likely to be the result of closed-door negotiations between House and Senate staff and lawmakers, with no amendments allowed.
The Pentagon is getting nervous about the prospect that Congress will use continuing resolutions to fund the government for the rest of Fiscal 2022. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a statement yesterday warning lawmakers that a year-long CR would cause “irreparable” damage to Defense priorities. Austin said a full-year CR would “misalign” billions of dollars. Since the funding would be pegged to last year’s spending priorities, much of the money would go wasted or unspent, and amount to an overall funding cut.
The Office of Personnel Management has a new team to help agencies with their hiring challenges. The new team will help agencies prepare to hire more talent to implement the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. OPM said it will work with agencies on creating their own talent plans and using existing hiring authorities to bring on the skills they need. OPM will also launch a new spot on USAJobs.gov where agencies can post positions related to the new infrastructure law. (Federal News Network)
The Federal Labor Relations Authority said the Education Department violated labor-management law on 14 separate occasions in its interactions with the American Federation of Government Employees. AFGE filed 14 unfair labor practice complaints against the Education Department between 2018 and 2020. The FLRA consolidated those complaints into one case earlier this year. The union accused the department of failing to bargain over a new collective bargaining agreement and telework policies. An administrative judge ordered the Education Department to rescind its 2018 collective bargaining agreement and other policies.
Agencies have some more advice on securing data in 5G cloud infrastructure. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, along with the National Security Agency, published the third round of guidance under the Enduring Security Framework. The latest installment focuses on best practices for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data in 5G core cloud infrastructure. Officials said no one entity can solve the security problem, as agencies and industry need to work together to protect data in 5G cloud environments.
The Coast Guard gets serious about cybersecurity at U.S. ports. In October, the service began reviewing the cybersecurity practices of port facilities as part of their annual security assessments. The ports have to begin following detailed guidance on securing not just physical cargo and equipment, but data and digital networks as well. Rear Adm. John Mauger said the size, complexity and importance of the Marine Transportation System make it an attractive target for hackers. The Coast Guard is now hiring cybersecurity advisors at ports and facilities across the country to help boost its cyber defenses.
Don’t worry small business contractors, your holidays aren’t going to be filled with proposal work. The General Services Administration heard your concerns and pushed back the release of the request for proposals for Polaris small business governmentwide acquisition contract until January. GSA says the small business and women-owned small business RFPs are expected in January while the solicitations for the HUBZone and service-disabled veteran-owned small business pools will follow later in 2022. GSA planned to issue the RFP for the $15 billion IT services procurement earlier this summer and then it was delayed to the fall.
The U.S. Digital Service is seeking broad authorities to capture public feedback for new research projects. From focus groups to user research studies to an unmoderated qualitative user experience questionnaire, the U.S. Digital Service plans to collect more than 19,000 responses from the public over the next year. USDS is asking for a generic clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act to conduct discovery sprints. These are short research projects designed to quickly understand complexities of systems or services in order to identify issues with service delivery, their root causes and opportunities for improvement. USDS said it’s planning research projects focused on social safety net and general welfare programs, economic recovery efforts, healthcare and more to help agencies learn more about the public’s perceptions, experiences and expectations as well as early warnings of issues with service delivery; or areas where communication, training or changes in operations might improve delivery of products or services.
The Census Bureau is leading an interagency effort to gauge public opinion on federal agencies and their programs. Participants in the Ask U.S. Panel would participate in online surveys no more than once a month, and would be eligible to receive surveys for up to three years. The bureau is looking to pilot the panel with a few thousand participants next year, but expects to begin surveying up to 17,000 respondents by 2023. The bureau said it plans to over-sample from populations of interest, including households facing food insecurity, and households that primarily speak Spanish.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is ramping up efforts to make COVID-19 vaccines available worldwide. USAID is spending an additional $400 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support its Initiative for Global Vaccine Access. The agency already committed spending more than $1 billion on this program. Most of the new spending will help deliver vaccines to developing countries. But USAID is also putting up new spending to increase vaccine manufacturing in other countries, and to rapidly deploy medical resources to COVID hotspots.