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The Postal Service is in recovery, but more tough decisions lie ahead. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said USPS is on track to reverse its long-term financial challenges under its 10-year reform plan. The Postal Service Reform Act President Joe Biden recently signed into law is just the latest element of the plan to fall into place. USPS is now focused on overhauling its facilities. But DeJoy said in an interview challenges still lie ahead for USPS. “There’s still a lot of uncomfortable things that we need to do. I’m pretty good at this stuff, but I’m not like a magician. And the team is pretty good. We can’t undo 14 years of colossal damage that was inflicted on the organization.” (Federal News Network)
More than 90 federal agencies announce new plans to improve equity in government services. That amounts to a combined total of 300 concrete strategies. The actions include goals like expanding demographic data and increasing opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. Ensuring equity in technology advancements is another common priority, such as the Defense Department’s use of artificial intelligence. The release of these equity action plans stem from an executive order last January on advancing racial equity. The White House said it will release more details on implementation in the coming weeks. (Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to improve its services to often underserved veteran communities. That includes groups like veterans of color, women and LGBTQ veterans. The VA launched a “Data for Equity” strategy to root out gaps in its demographic data. The strategy will sync up veterans’ health information, such as healthcare and disability benefits data. The program launch comes as part of the White House’s and other agencies’ new equity action plans to improve federal services for underserved communities.
The Veterans Affairs Department is awarding about $52 million in grants to organizations that provide or coordinate suicide prevention services for veterans at risk of suicide and their families. This comes a week after the Government Accountability Office found that service members in remote bases are more likely to attempt suicide. Secretary Denis McDonough said that the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program will focus on local community organizations, which are important partners in the department’s work to end veteran suicide.
The Commerce Department names 27 experts to a committee that will advise the president on issues related to artificial intelligence. The National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee includes members from Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and top universities. Commerce created the board as part of the National AI Initiative Act passed by Congress in 2020. Committee members will serve three-year terms, and may serve up to two consecutive terms at the discretion of the Commerce secretary.
Federal agencies will have to come up with a plan to recycle their electric vehicle batteries, if a Senate bill makes it through Congress. The Strategic EV Management Act would require the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget to come up with a plan for how to recycle old EV batteries, and well as maximize their longevity. GSA finds the federal EV fleet has substantially increased in recent years. The bill’s authors, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), said 95% of the critical materials in EV batteries are recyclable.
Three big changes in the Energy Department’s CIO’s office. The Energy Department fills a key technology role, while two others open up. First, Energy announced Emery Csulak will be the new chief data officer, moving over from the principal deputy CIO role. Ann Dunkin, Energy’s chief information officer, has held both roles for the past year or more. Energy will need to bring in a new principal deputy CIO. Csulak has been with Energy since 2019 and principal deputy CIO since September 2020. Meanwhile, Greg Sisson, the Energy Department’s chief information security officer, is retiring in July. Sisson has been CISO since March 2021 and has worked at Energy since 2018.
Nearly four years after Congress required cost and pricing data for specific non-commercial contracts worth more than $2 million, the Defense Department and NASA have no idea if the mandate is having an impact. A new report from the Government Accountability Office found less than 1% of contracts awarded by NASA and DoD in 2020 required vendors to certify cost and pricing data. DoD is working on a report to Congress, due in July, on the effects of this 2018 NDAA requirement.
The Department of Homeland Security wants to spark new relationships between prime contractors and small businesses. DHS will host a vendor outreach matchmaking event on April 20. The virtual event gives small businesses a chance to display their capabilities, discuss subcontracting opportunities, and explore new mentor-protege relationships. DHS typically meets its annual small business contracting goals. The department received an ‘A’ on the annual small business procurement scorecard for the 12th consecutive year in 2021.
A top acquisition official shares new data on risks in the government’s supply chain. The General Services Administration identified about 200,000 products “of concern” in its marketplace over the last year. GSA offers tens of millions of products to agencies through governmentwide contracts. GSA’s Sonny Hashmi said the risks in the identified products range from cybersecurity concerns to foreign ownership and dependencies. “By identifying those products, we can start to have the right conversations with those suppliers, manufacturers and resellers to be able to say, ‘Let’s share more information on this. We need to learn more about this.’ And then ultimately, we can take actions, like suppressing some of those products, or even taking them off our marketplace.” (Federal News Network)