A new idea in the House has immigration judges becoming their own entity

In today's Federal Newscast, immigration judges would no longer be part of the Justice Department, if a bill introduced in the House passes.

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  • Agencies received fewer requests under the Freedom of Information Act in fiscal 2020. At the same time, they processed 12% fewer FOIAs too pushing the backlog up higher to more than 141,000 requests. The Government Accountability Office reviewed five agencies — USDA, DHS, Labor, EPA and the FBI — and found all but the FBI adjusted well to handling FOIA requests as employees worked remotely. The FBI’s FOIA system is classified, so employees couldn’t work remotely. GAO says most of the FOIA metrics improved in 2020 as compared to 2019 with simple and expedited request processing seeing the biggest improvements.
  • The Biden administration is in the market for greener sources of electricity for the federal government. The Defense Department and the General Services Administration are asking energy suppliers how they plan to deliver on the administration’s goal of the federal government running 100% on carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030. That’s a goal from an executive order President Joe Biden signed in December. A request for information asks vendors for feedback on the feasibility of this target, as well as potential hurdles. Preferred energy sources outlined in the RFI include marine energy, solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear and hydrokinetic. (Federal News Network)
  • Immigration judges would no longer be part of the Justice Department, if a bill introduced in the House passes. The Real Courts, Rule of Law Act introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) would instead form an independent immigration court. The bill has the support of the National Association of Immigration Judges, which cites a 1.6 million case backlog as an example of the current system not working. The Federal Labor Relations Authority recently ruled that immigration judges are management-level employees, and can’t be part of a collective bargaining unit.
  • A new public safety board will evaluate major cyber incidents, starting with the Log4j software vulnerability. The Department of Homeland Security officially established the Cyber Safety Review Board this week. Its chairman is Rob Silvers, undersecretary of homeland security for policy. The group includes leaders from numerous federal agencies, as well as private sector executives. The board will publish a report this summer with suggestions for improving cybersecurity practices based on the Log4j incident.
  • The Defense Department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is on the move. DoD’s chief information officer is taking over the CMMC program. It was previously led out of the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment directorate. But a team of six civilians from acquisition will move over to the CIO’s office to continue working on the program. DoD CIO John Sherman also says his office plans to kick off a rulemaking process in the coming weeks to get CMMC into defense acquisition regulations. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon is taking new steps to institutionalize the concept of “continuous authorizations to operate” for its IT systems. The basic idea is to grant cybersecurity approvals that never expire, as long as system managers are doing enough to monitor cyber risks to their systems in real time. A new memo from DoD’s chief information security officer lays out the basic framework, and promises more guidance to come.
  • The Senate has confirmed Andrew Hunter as the Air Force’s top acquisition official. Hunter previously worked as the director of DoD’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell and as the chief of staff to the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics during the Obama administration. The Senate vote took a while; President Biden first nominated Hunter for the assistant secretary job last July. Several other key Pentagon procurement jobs — including the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment — are still vacant.
  • The Air Force is partnering with a Historically Black University to encourage interest in missiles. It announced Project Tuskegee as a means of getting young people interested in intercontinental ballistic missiles and ground-based deterrents. The new program takes cadets from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and exposes them to opportunities at Air Force Global Strike Command. The initiative honors the Tuskegee airmen, a group of Black aviators in World War II who protected bombers as they flew missions.
  • One of the Army’s largest bases will remain closed for a second day as winter weather moves in. Ft. Hood in Texas is asking only mission essential personnel to show up to the installation because of freezing roads and hazardous conditions. Last year, Texas saw a massive ice storm that left millions without power. Officials say they will make further closure decisions after assessing the situation.
  • Vendors bidding on the $50 billion CIO-SP4 get dealt another curve ball a week before final bids are due. The NIH IT Acquisition and Assessment Center reversed course by no longer requiring vendors bidding on CIO-SP4 to submit their best and final offers through a third-party portal. NITAAC released amendment 16 yesterday removing many of the requirements it had outlined in previous recent amendments. NITAAC’s decision to give up on the portal comes after growing complaints from vendors that the site didn’t work. It forced NITAAC to extend the proposal deadline by two weeks. NITAAC also told bidders if changes to the mentor-protégé clauses didn’t impact them, they didn’t have to resubmit their proposals from August.

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