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.
President Joe Biden broke a nearly 20-year record by publicly recognizing senior level federal employees. To both combat distrust in government and strengthen the federal workforce, Biden commended 230 recipients of the 2021 Presidential Rank Awards at a virtual ceremony. This administration has emphasized the importance of the federal workforce since day one, said Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja. Those efforts come through initiatives like the executive order on protecting federal workers and the President’s Management Agenda.
The top Republican is calling on President Joe Biden to fill a top science job in the White House. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is calling for the administration to name a new permanent director to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Biden’s former pick, Eric Lander, resigned after an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff. Lander’s resignation marks the first Cabinet-level departure of the Biden administration.
A well-known federal technology executive has announced his pending retirement from government. Ron Thompson, who’s spent 25 years in the federal government, said he’ll be departing by mid-summer. Thompson is currently NASA’s chief data officer and the deputy director of its digital transformation office. Before joining NASA, Thompson had IT and human resource management jobs at the Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services Departments, and at the IRS and Census Bureau. At this week’s GITEC conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Thompson said he’d take time to travel with family before deciding on his next.
A new marketplace for shared services is slated to launch this year. The Bureau of Fiscal Service and the General Services Administration are teaming up to give agencies more options to modernize their financial management systems. The bureau will launch its financial management marketplace later this year with public and private sector providers. GSA is setting up a new special item number under the schedules program where agencies can find those providers that meet the baseline core financial standards. Additionally, GSA is developing a performance management framework using a balanced scorecard approach to measure how the marketplace is performing for agency customers and providers. (Federal News Network)
The Justice Department’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative successfully resolved its first False Claims Act case. DOJ says Comprehensive Health Services LLC of Cape Canaveral, Florida, has agreed to pay $930,000 to resolve allegations that it falsely represented to the State Department and the Air Force that it complied with contract requirements to securely store sensitive data. Justice says between 2012 and 2019 the company allegedly left scanned copies of some records on an internal network drive, which were accessible to non-clinical staff. Justice says the company did not take adequate steps to store the information exclusively on the EMR system even after staff raised concerns.
White hat hackers find bugs in defense contractor networks. Cybersecurity researchers found hundreds of potential vulnerabilities in defense contractor networks over the past year. Forty-one companies participated in the Defense Industrial Base-Vulnerability Disclosure Program pilot. The 12-month bug bounty wrapped up in April. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is now evaluating whether to make the program permanent. The Defense Department has run an internal bug bounty program since 2016, but this is the first time DoD has let white-hat hackers loose on defense contractor systems.
The Naval Postgraduate School and Microsoft are teaming up to tackle complex issues to help the military rapidly incorporate and adopt new technologies. The two organizations are entering into a cooperative research and development agreement to collaborate on research topics. Those topics will include cloud-enhanced networks, edge computing and simulation.
The Defense Department is using 5G to make shipping supplies easier. The Pentagon opened up its 5G Smart Warehouse Network in Naval Base Coronado. The new process will increase the efficiency of naval logistic operations. The program helps with the identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval and transportation of materiel and supplies. The network comes from a $600 million investment in 5G experiments by the Defense Department last fall. The investment’s objective is to rapidly develop and prototype dual-use 5G applications for military and commercial use.
Rising oil prices tend to raise the cost of just about everything — including running a military. The Defense Department now projects its fuel costs will be about three-billion dollars more than it planned for when it first built its 2022 budget. Mike McCord, DoD’s chief financial officer, says Congress covered some of those price hikes when it passed a belated 2022 appropriations bill, but not enough to offset the increases for the full year.
The Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery is asking Congress for more time and money. In his latest quarterly report, Brian Miller asks lawmakers to extend SIGPR’s tenure by five years to March 2030. He also requests a place in the annual appropriations cycle to the tune of $25 million in funding through Sept. 30, 2025. Miller says the budget will allow his office to hire more investigators and auditors to hunt for pandemic relief fraud. Congress created SIGPR as part of the 2020 CARES Act.
The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to keep moving with its new Electronic Health Record rollout, despite repeated system outages. VA Secretary Denis McDonough says the new EHR from Cerner has experienced five shutdowns since March 3. Two of those outages happened last week. The VA, however, launched the new EHR at a third site last Friday, this time in Columbus, Ohio. McDonough said the VA is building on lessons learned from each subsequent EHR go-live, but doesn’t see the need to put the rollout on hold, “The only reason to do this is if it has clinical value and improves outcomes for our veterans. Our clinicians continue to believe that it will and that it does.” (Federal News Network)
If you participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, you’ll see a temporary pause on changing your investments. Planned downtime for the TSP starts May 16 and ends the first week of June. On May 26, all TSP transactions will be suspended for several days. Access to My Account and the ThriftLine will also be suspended. During the transition, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board will add features to enhance user experience. The board says participants should review their current investments to make sure they still align with retirement goals.