HHS says it’s ready to take over Operation Warp Speed, but GAO is not so sure

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  • A former security clearance background investigator faces criminal penalties for lying during the course of her job. A federal court in Washington, D.C. sentenced Michelle Layton to three years of probation, plus more than $100,000 in restitution. Prosecutors say that’s how much it will cost the government to re-investigate some of the cases Layton helped decide. She plead guilty last November to falsifying interviews with people she’d never spoken to.
  • Military bases are starting to become more restrictive regarding traveling again. About 10% of military bases have reinstated travel restrictions for troops since the omicron variant took hold. That means troops are limited in where they can go on leave and how they move to new orders. A majority of military bases around the world still remain limitation free. A little more than 80% of installations do not have restrictions. Military installations base their restrictions on the threat of COVID to the community and the capacity of service and local hospitals.
  • Defense and intelligence agencies have 180 days to make sure they’re using multi-factor authentication on their classified systems. That’s just one requirement under a new directive signed by President Joe Biden this week. It aims to make sure defense and intelligence agencies are following requirements set out in last year’s cybersecurity executive order. Those agencies are also now required to report cyber incidents to the National Security Agency. And it gives the NSA the power to issue binding operational directives to owners of classified systems in the federal government. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Health Agency awards a nearly one billion dollar contract to build the military’s largest overseas hospital. The Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement will be about one million square feet and feature nine operating rooms, 120 exam rooms and 68 beds. It will also have the surge capacity for another 25 beds if needed. The hospital is set for completion in 2027.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is now taking full ownership of the federal plans to develop, manufacture, and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, a plan previously known as Operation Warp Speed. But the Government Accountability Office says it’s unclear whether HHS is ready to lead some efforts that used to be led by the Department of Defense. GAO says HHS will need additional contractors to keep up with this work. HHS tells GAO it assessed its workforce before taking over the project at the start of 2022.
  • Agencies will be getting some help to meet the Biden administration’s goal of awarding more contracts for American made products. The White House yesterday launched a new Made in America interagency council. The goal of the council is to create a regular forum and community for agencies to collaborate as they work to strengthen the use of federal procurement and federal financial assistance to increase reliance on domestic supply chains and reduce the need for waivers over time. The council will share data that can help promote domestic sourcing and best practices across agencies that are facing similar challenges and opportunities.
  • A public-private group working to solve technology supply chain challenges gets some new blood. The Small Business Administration is joining the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Task Force. The task force now includes more than 30 government representatives, in addition to dozens of industry partners. The group plans to take a hard look this year at increasingly popular “bills of materials.” It plans to study the utility of Software Bills of Materials across the ICT community. And it’s launching a Hardware Bill of Materials working group amid concerns about the availability and security of parts like semiconductors.
  • A major change is coming to the federal technology leadership ranks. Maria Roat, the deputy federal chief information officer, is retiring after almost 41 years in government. Roat will leave federal service on March 31. Federal CIO Clare Martorana called Roat’s role crucial in providing a cross-government view of agency challenges and identifying opportunities to scale secure technology and sound data-management practices. Roat has been the deputy federal CIO since May 2020. Before coming to OMB, Roat was the CIO at the Small Business Administration for more than three years. She spent 25 years in the Navy and Naval Reserve as well. (Federal News Network)
  • A new petition looks to have NASA cede some of it’s land in Greenbelt, Maryland. Supporters are asking the agency to sell 105 acres of forest land it has near Goddard Space Flight Center for no cost to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rather than put it up for public sale later this month.
  • The Postal Service is making fewer employees deliver mail with their own vehicles. USPS is saving money by giving government-owned vehicles to some employees who have used their own vehicles on rural routes. But its inspector general says the agency is not yet maximizing its savings under this strategy. The IG says giving government-issued vehicles to employees on some routes wouldn’t be the cheapest option, but USPS management says they’d still go ahead with those plans to maximize safety. USPS in fiscal year 2020 paid rural letter carriers 583 million dollars in equipment maintenance allowance.

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