Defense Secretary Austin looks to Michael Bloomberg for advice on innovation

  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will serve as the new chairman of the Defense Innovation Board. The once-influential board, previously led by Google co-founder Eric Schmidt, as of yet, does not have any other members. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is gradually recreating almost all of DoD’s federal advisory committees, which were disbanded last year so that Pentagon officials could review them. Austin made that decision after former President Donald Trump, during his final days in office, fired several longstanding members and replaced them with political allies.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is rethinking employee pay and benefits as it faces record turnover. The VA is rolling out a 10-year human infrastructure plan aimed at improving retention and recruitment. Among its provisions, the VA is permanently raising the salary cap for employees who qualify for $500 a month in child care subsidies. The Biden administration also authorized the VA to pay retention incentives of up to 50% of an employee’s base salary. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the agency is dealing with its highest turnover rate for nurses in the past 15 years.  (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is granting 25-year leases to private companies to install broadband networks. Every Air Force installation is expected to have increased coverage by 2026. The program will improve connectivity in homes, offices and on flight lines. Phase one includes 10 bases across six states in the southeastern United States. That phase is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2023.
  • is finally getting a new director. Looking for a high profile technology program which just received a windfall of cash? Well, you might be the perfect candidate to run for the General Services Administration’s program. GSA plans to finally hire a permanent director for the identity proofing and authentication service. Login.Gov hasn’t had a permanent director since August 2019. But with a $311 million award from the Technology Modernization Fund and calls by some for the IRS to use the service to protect again identity theft, GSA will soon open up the job to applicants for this GS-15 position.
  • The bill seeking to promote the success of the Procurement Innovation Lab at the Department of Homeland Security is heading to the president’s desk. The House earlier this week joined the Senate in passing the Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions Act or PRICE Act. The bill would require the PIL to develop a best practices and training of innovative procurement approaches. It would create an interagency council to examine these best practices and figure out how to put them to use, particularly with a focus on improving small business contracting.
  • Top Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees are seeking a review of mental health services available to State Department employees serving aboard. Committee leaders are asking the Government Accountability Office to review the state of mental health services available to members of the Foreign Service and employees at USAID.
  • A continuing resolution for a full year could spell personnel troubles for the military’s newest branch. The Space Force has only about 7,000 guardians in its ranks, but it plans to expand to 8,400 by the end of 2022. However, the service’s personnel chief, Patricia Mulcahy, said the current continuing resolution is standing in the way. The budgetary purgatory is keeping the Space Force from transferring service members from the Army and Navy over to the new service. Mulcahy said the lack of increased funding is keeping the Space Force from onboarding much needed civilian talent as well. (Federal News Network)
  • Congressional auditors have raised concerns about the government’s monitoring of critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Lead agencies for nine critical sectors have not taken any steps to determine whether those sectors have adopted a cybersecurity framework. That’s according to the Government Accountability Office. The neglected sectors include dams, emergency services and nuclear reactors. GAO said it’s crucial for sector risk management agencies to monitor cybersecurity and determine what improvements can be made.
  • Lawmakers are asking the White House for details on a key national security initiative. It’s been one year since President Joe Biden directed agencies to take actions to strengthen the national security workforce. But details on that effort are scarce. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are asking the White House to publish reports from an interagency working group leading the initiative. They say the group’s efforts to boost diversity, equity and inclusion across the national security workforce are especially important and should be public knowledge. (Federal News Network)
  • The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is looking to update its National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, and is looking for feedback on what to change or remove. OSTP is issuing a request for information, asking how an updated strategy can address underrepresentation of certain demographics in the AI workforce and how to address topics like equity and AI bias. The Trump administration released the latest version of the AI R&D strategy in 2019.

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