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Members of the Senate are looking to move a major cyber legislative package. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is set to consider a bill combining incident reporting requirements and updated federal cyber standards. The package also includes a bill to authorize the FedRAMP program for five years. Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said the Log4j software vulnerability underscores the importance of passing new cyber requirements for agencies and critical infrastructure.
An appeals court reaffirms a block on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled 2-1 Wednesday to maintain a block on the mandate that a Texas-based federal judge issued last month. President Joe Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers were required to undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured approved medical or religious exemptions. (Federal News Network)
The Government Publishing Office publishes lots of lists. Now it’s on a list. GPO has made the list of best midsize employers in America, as designated by Forbes magazine and market researchers at Statista. They surveyed 60,000 people working for organization with 1,000 people or more. GPO ranked 452nd on the list of 500 and it wasn’t alone. The Government Accountability Office came in at 328th. In fact, the list was dotted with federal agencies. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence ranked a high 74th place. The Architect of the Capitol and the Education Department fell midway on the list.
An IRS watchdog zeroed in on the agency’s paper problem. The IRS is planning to consolidate the number of sites that process paper tax returns. But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the agency is having trouble staffing up to deal with its current workload. TIGTA finds the IRS last year only met 67% of its hiring goal at its tax processing centers. The IG is recommends the IRS postpone plans to close of its Tax Processing Center in Austin, Texas, until hiring and backlog shortages are addressed. But the IRS says it still plans to close the center by September 2024.
The State Department names a chief sustainability officer to meet the Biden administration’s vision for a carbon-neutral government. Under Secretary for Management John Bass will take on this role, and oversee the agency’s sustainability and energy resilience goals. The agency over the past decade has taken steps to make its embassies and consulates more sustainable, and is adopting rainwater harvesting systems in areas prone to drought. President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order seeking to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations by 2050.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is making a big bet on small nuclear reactors as one way to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The federally-owned utility’s board gave the go-ahead to a plan that could spend up to $200-million to develop the technology during its first phase. TVA wants the small-scale reactors will be part of its grid in the 2030’s as part of its own net-zero carbon energy plan, and to make the technology available across the country. (Federal News Network)
The Energy Department details a major reorganization. On the heels of recommendations from CEOs, technology and labor leaders, DOE is reorganizing to take better advantage of clean energy investments. Secretary Jennifer Granholm renamed the undersecretary of energy as the undersecretary of infrastructure. The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response or CESER and the Federal Energy Management Program are among the offices that now come under the new undersecretary. She also is creating three new offices, including one focused on grid infrastructure and one focused on manufacturing and the supply chain. All of these changes are aimed at improving how Energy invests the $62 billion it received under the Bipartisan Infrastructure law.
More companies may have to get a cyber certification to work with the Defense Department. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is moving forward under the Defense Department chief information officer. But DoD is rolling back an aspect of the plan that would have allowed some 40,000 companies to self-attest to their cybersecurity practices. Deputy DoD Chief Information Officer Dave McKeown said the department determined all 80,000 companies that handle controlled unclassified information will need a third-party assessment under CMMC. DoD previously said only half those companies would require such an assessment. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department’s commercial innovation hub is tapping Google for a new cloud solution. Google will provide three year-long cloud prototypes for the Defense Innovation Unit, that the military hopes to adapt across its agencies worldwide. The Defense Innovation Unit works closely with nontraditional defense companies to adopt their technologies for military use. Google will work with Palo Alto Networks to incorporate zero-trust principles into the development of the cloud program. DIU has a troubled past with cloud contracts, the Pentagon cut a nearly $1 billion cloud contract brokered by the organization back in 2018.
Agencies have 23 new labor categories across three new task areas to buy services from under the Army’s IT Enterprise Solutions 3 Services (ITES-3S) contract. The Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) added new services ranging from cloud developer or engineer to data architect to artificial intelligence and machine learning expertise. With 120 vendors, ITES-3S is a nine-year, $12.1 billion contract. The Army added new task areas and labor categories as part of its annual refresh effort.
FEMA is requesting 14 teams of military medical professionals to aid in coronavirus relief. About 220 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will be deployed to six states to support civilian healthcare facilities. Since the end of 2021, the Defense Department has approved 1,000 personnel to support COVID relief across the nation.