Current and former members of the military can squeeze in on some military flights again

In today's Federal Newscast, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command will allow those with special privileges to tag along on military flights if there is room.

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  • The Agriculture Department overlooked major considerations when relocating two of its research bureaus to Kansas City, Missouri. That’s according to the Government Accountability Office. GAO reports that USDA did not factor in the potential costs of staff attrition upon relocating. It also didn’t consider the disruption the move would cause to agency activities, GAO said. USDA’s initial goal in moving the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture was to make it easier to find more highly qualified staff and reduce costs.
  • Cooperation, analysis and organization are among the most valuable skills for federal workers. That’s according a new survey from the Merit Systems Protection Board. MSPB asked federal employees which ability their agency allows them to use most effectively in their jobs. Some of the lower scoring skills were creativity and ambition. MSPB said this information can help agencies in their hiring practices to more accurately write job announcements. Agencies can also use the data to consider changes to their workplace culture, MSPB added.
  • The State Department is calling on data scientists to join its ranks. The State Department is looking to hire at least 50 data scientists across its Civil Service workforce over the next year. The agency is seeking to hire candidates at the GS-13 and GS-14 level. The State Department will move on to the next phase of the hiring process once it receives 250 applications, but will accept applications no later than April 28. Chief Data Scientist Joel Nantais said the agency hired the most data scientists from a government wide hiring effort a year ago, but still needs to hire more. “There is an increasing demand for data scientists and data analytics here at the Department of State.” (Federal News Network)
  • A White House task force is telling agencies how promote equity in federal data. The Biden administration’s Equitable Data Working Group recommends agencies make disaggregated data the norm, while still ensuring data privacy for individuals. The group also recommends increasing non-federal research and community access to federal data sets, and conducting equity assessments of federal programs to identify areas for improvement. The group is co-chaired by officials from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget.
  • The Commerce Department has marching orders to integrate climate change considerations into more policies, planning and programming. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo issues a department administrative order to create a new climate council, which will give specific recommendations to address the climate crisis. The department administrative order echoes President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order on tackling the climate crisis. It includes mitigation measures, resilience measures and incorporating environmental justice into policies. Commerce’s council is in charge of advancing and overseeing the order, and identifying deliverables for its operating units.
  • The Defense Department is formally withdrawing the court challenges it filed as part of an earlier effort to keep its massive fuel storage facility in Honolulu up and running. DoD had challenged an order by the State of Hawaii telling it to drain the Red Hill fuel facility as soon as possible. But Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin changed course a month ago and decided to shut down Red Hill after all. Local officials and members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation say dropping the court cases paves the way to safely decommission the facility by the end of the year. (Federal News Network)
  • Current and former service members can once again hitch a ride with the Air Force. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command has put the kibosh on space-available travel. Now those with special privileges can once again tag along on military flights if there is room. The opportunities are only open to service members, their families and retirees. The flights are typically free of charge. The Air Force said certain medical protocols may still be required. The service said it reserves the right to stop space-available travel to avoid COVID outbreaks.
  • A former commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory has become the first general officer in the Air Force’s history to be convicted at court martial. A military judge convicted Maj. Gen. William Cooley of one count of abusive sexual contact, but acquitted him on two others. Cooley is set to be sentenced today. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department has a new area for businesses and universities to look at opportunities for working with the military. The Pentagon announced the creation of as a one-stop shop for the military’s innovation ecosystem. Users will be able to search for grants, projects and other requests from DoD for creative ideas. The department plans to continually update the site with new opportunities.
  • Calling all federal acquisition experts: The General Services Administration needs your help. A new GSA Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee is seeking expertise in either acquisition, climate and sustainability, and/or expertise in the intersection of acquisition, climate and sustainability. The advisory committee will consist of professionals from small business, science, manufacturing, engineering, academia, technology and other industry sectors. Council members will serve one-to-three-year terms. Nominations to the GSA Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee are due by May 23.
  • The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency wants software delivered faster and more consistently. That’s the goal of the agency’s new strategy, “The NGA Software Way.” NGA plans on tracking three key metrics: the availability of the software, the amount of time it takes to make changes, and the frequency of deployment. NGA officials are expected to discuss the new software strategy and other technology priorities at this week’s GEOINT conference in Denver.
  • The FAA is giving contractors more time to bid on its mega IT services contract. The Federal Aviation Administration is extending the proposal due date for its IT Innovative Procurement for Strategic Sourcing (ITIPSS) contract vehicle to May 25. FAA is expected to award up to 12 contracts, including as many as nine to small businesses, to provide a variety of IT services and support for the administration’s non-National Airspace Systems. The 10-year contract could be worth $2.4 billion. The FAA released the solicitation in March, but updated it earlier this month with a new proposal due date.
  • The initial results are in from the Department of Homeland Security’s bug bounty program. Cybersecurity researchers found 122 vulnerabilities in DHS systems over the past few months under the agency’s “Hack DHS” program. Twenty-seven of the vulnerabilities were considered critical. DHS paid out $125,600 to the ethical hackers for finding the vulnerabilities. The department expanded the bug bounty program in December to hunt down public-facing systems with the critical Log4j bug. In the next phase of the program, DHS will host a live, in-person hacking event.

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    Current and former members of the military can squeeze in on some military flights again

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