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As the war in Ukraine continues, Republicans are mobilizing around a larger defense budget. Forty Republican lawmakers are making the case for a 5% in the defense budget for 2023. The members of Congress said that big of an increase will offset rises inflation rates and ensure NATO security as the war in Ukraine continues. A national security panel suggested a 3% to 5% increase in the military budget per year. However, that suggestion is based off a strategy where the United States is engaged with multiple aggressors. The Biden administration is expected to release its budget on Monday.
The Marine Corps is joining other military services in creating a program to lend pregnant service members maternity clothing. Enlisted Marines, on average, pay $500 out-of-pocket for uniforms as their bodies change through pregnancy. Almost all uniforms will be available immediately. Dress-blue skirts will not be obtainable until 2023.
Federal agencies and programs will get a new coordinator for rural outreach, if a Senate bill moves forward in Congress. The Rural Prosperity Act introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would create an Office of Rural Prosperity at the White House that would coordinate federal efforts in rural communities. Gillibrand said there are more than 400 federal programs for rural communities scattered across 13 agencies and over 50 offices and sub-agencies.
House lawmakers are eyeing changes to technology systems that are 20, 30, 40 years old. After years of reports from the Government Accountability Office that found agencies didn’t have a good idea of how many or how old their legacy systems were, Sen Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are trying to change that. Hassan and Cornyn introduced the Legacy IT Reduction Act of 2022, which aims to bring some transparency to this problem. The bill would require agencies to develop an inventory of legacy IT systems and write modernization plans to update or dispose of their legacy IT systems. It also would require OMB to issue guidance to assist agencies with identifying legacy IT and modernizing it. (Federal News Network)
The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to add more cybersecurity regulations to its current system for incident reporting. The commission’s proposed rule would give SEC investors an earlier heads-up on cybersecurity incidents. It would also make investors aware of cyber risk management, strategy and governance updates for publicly traded companies. The proposed changes from the commission would require public companies to report all substantial cybersecurity events and provide regular updates on their policies, procedures and past cyber incidents.
The White House is filling out appointments for key roles at the Federal Salary Council. The three new members are Stephen Condrey, who will serve as chairman, as well as Jared Llorens and Janice Lachance . This follows an announcement from the Office of Personnel Management, which tapped Lachance to serve as chairwoman of the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee. Late last year, the salary council called for major legislative reforms to the federal pay system in recommendations to Labor, OMB and OPM.
Agency cybersecurity efforts could soon get a boost from Congress. The Senate and the House are close to ironing out their differences over a bill that would update the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 and a bill that would codify the FedRAMP program. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said has been discussing the bills with House leaders. “We’re very close, I think, to coming up to an agreement to be able to put these two together. And I’m hoping we can get it passed as quickly as possible,” Peters said.
A Senate report said agencies should increase their collaboration to reduce ransomware threats. The report comes from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It said the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency should work quickly to enact new cyber incident reporting requirements. And it urges CISA to quickly share incident reports with the FBI. Portman’s report said the partnership between CISA and the FBI is key to assisting ransomware victims.
An effort to reform and modernize the State Department is coming into focus. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bill that would set up a commission to modernize the State Department. The commission would look at ways to restructure the agency, as well as the state of the agency’s workforce. That includes ways to improve recruitment, promotion, training and retention of agency employees. The commission would include members appointed by House and Senate leadership, as well as the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees.
Price will remain a key evaluation factor under the schedule contracts run by the General Services Administration. Despite Congress giving them the authority in the 2019 Defense authorization bill under Section 876, GSA announced yesterday it would not move price negotiation from the contract level to the order level. GSA said industry and agency feedback generally came to the conclusion that this change would add more burden than benefit, especially for agency buyers. One big concern that led to GSA’s decision was moving price to the task order level would increase procurement acquisition lead time.