Scores of DHS employees are to be honored by the agency’s secretary

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The State Department invites federal employees to renew their passports online ahead of public launch. The agency is directing federal employees and contractors to pre-register online and create a MyTravelGov account. Users will need to wait up to two weeks before they’re able to new...

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To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

  • The State Department invites federal employees to renew their passports online ahead of public launch. The agency is directing federal employees and contractors to pre-register online and create a MyTravelGov account. Users will need to wait up to two weeks before they’re able to new their passports online. The State Department says it is testing the portal with a limited audience before launching it to the general public this fall. Eligible feds must renew a passport that was issued at least nine years ago, but no later than 15 years ago.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is recognizing its standout employees. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the 2022 “Secretary’s Awards” this week. This year’s winners included CISA’s 2020 Presidential Election Security Initiative Team. The Secret Service’s Global Investigative Operations Center and Cyber Intelligence Section was also recognized for exceptional service. And several employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received plaudits for their contributions to the Unaccompanied Child Virtual Case Management Team.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services highlights the executive order on advancing racial equity in its 2023 budget request. At the agency’s policies and priorities hearing on Wednesday, HHS said it will use its funding request to better support underserved communities. Along with enhancing equitable service, the agency’s strategic plan for 2022 through 2026 aims to build trust and transparency by promoting effective governance within the agency. HHS leaders also plan to improve diversity in recruitment and retention practices.
  • Federal procurement power is a big player in the Biden administration’s goals for both environmental sustainability and cybersecurity. Requirements for things like greenhouse gas emissions disclosures are being written into more contracting language. The General Services Administration sees agencies relying on more as-a-service models for enterprise IT infrastructure and using less owned physical infrastructure. Laura Stanton at GSA says the agency is now adding sustainability requirements to as-a-service contracts. GSA is also adding climate change risk management requirements, to contracts for commercial satellite communications.
  • Military service members in remote bases are more likely to attempt suicide. In 2020, the military saw its worst year on record for suicides with 580. The Defense Department is trying to get a better handle on what is going on in the ranks. A preliminary report from the Government Accountability Office says service members in remote bases are more likely to attempt suicide, but slightly less likely to die from those attempts. GAO says that may be because non-military guns are harder to come by overseas or in far off areas. DoD commissioned an independent review of military suicides that will finish early next year. (Federal News Network)
  • Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson is the nominee to be the next chief of Air Force Materiel Command. If confirmed, Richardson would oversee 80,000 employees. Air Force Materiel Command conducts research and development as well as develops, acquires and sustains systems. Richardson will replace Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch.
  • A change in command is coming to the Commerce Department’s intellectual property arm. Kathi Vidal has received Senate confirmation as director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The job carries the title of Under Secretary of Commerce. As of yesterday she hadn’t yet been sworn in. Meantime a 28-year senior executive veteran of USPTO, Drew Hirshfeld, announced his retirement. He’s been the acting, performing-the-duties of, PTO director. Hirshfeld started out as a patent examiner. Vidal is an engineer and experienced patent litigator.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is set to get a new leader. The Senate voted to confirm Laurie Locascio to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology yesterday. Locascio is currently the vice president for research at the University of Maryland. She’s no stranger to NIST, having previously worked as a researcher at the agency. Her last role at NIST was acting principal deputy director and associate director for laboratory programs. Locascio has a background in biomedical research.
  • Data centers are in demand as agencies adopt cloud solutions, but data centers also consume a ton of electricity. The White House wants a net-zero carbon emissions electricity sector by 2035. That’s why the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and other national labs, are working together to turn areas that historically relied on the fossil fuel industry into new homes for data centers. But it’s going to take a lot of integrated energy systems. That’s why NETL, the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado and the Idaho National Lab formed a consortium. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking into the root cause of an Electronic Health Record outage. The VA says a bug in an Oracle server brought down all federal Cerner systems across the Defense Department, VA and the Coast Guard. VA officials say the outage lasted for about two and a half hours. That’s on top of a glitch the VA encounter last month its medical center in Spokane, Washington, the site go-live site for its new EHR system. Deputy VA Secretary Donald Remy said the agency is working closely with Cerner to diagnose the problem. “We are exercising all of our authority to make sure that we can position ourselves for success.” (Federal News Network)
  • Census Bureau leaders want to address policy, research and technical issues in the agency’s programs. The National Advisory Committee will look at ways to improve field operations, information technology and demographic programs. The NAC plans to meet in early May to review the issues. In addition, chief experience officer Michele Bartram says the bureau is working to improve customer experience by involving a customer focus team for 2030 census planning. The team will conduct research to learn more about the customer’s perspective for the Census.

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