Some members of the Interior Dept. will have an opportunity for remote work

In today's Federal Newscast, some Interior Department employees will see their remote work options expand.

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  • The Defense Information Systems Agency got high marks in the government’s Federal Employee viewpoint study. The organization scored in the top 10 of the Defense Department’s 33 agencies. Employees gave DISA strong reviews in overall employee engagement, leadership and global satisfaction. The survey also noted that DISA employees feel their supervisors listen to and support them.
  • Some Interior Department employees will see their remote work options expand. That comes in direct response to results from the Office of Personnel Management’s 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. In the 2021 FEVS, Interior employees’ satisfaction with their jobs, pay and organization decreased from 67% in 2020, to 65% in 2021. In response, Interior is adding more remote work opportunities for supervisors and managers. Additionally, the department will start up remote work arrangements for eligible employees who made requests to work from home.
  • The State Department’s future of work vision starts with accessibility. Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Brian McKeon said the agency is looking at telework as something that much of the workforce can benefit from, particularly for employees who don’t work on classified issues. “We’re going to have to adjust and have a hybrid work environment that provides flexibility for employees.” McKeon said the State Department on April 25 reached the “all functions in” point of its COVID workplace framework, which means more employees coming back into their offices. McKeon said the department has developed a mobility assessment tool, which is a questionnaire that examines every position by mission or function, and comes up with a maximum telework eligibility score. (Federal News Network)
  • The Agriculture Department will improve accessibility for LGBTQIA+ Americans who need to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA will reinforce prohibition of discrimination that’s based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The goal is to ensure SNAP is accessible to more Americans. The effort is in line with the White House’s executive order on combatting discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals. The update also aligns with USDA’s new four-year strategic plan, which establishes an equity commission to advance opportunities for underserved communities.
  • The Air Force is putting more emphasis on good behavior and personal growth in new handbooks for enlisted airmen. The Air Force is putting issues of sexual assault, harassment, bullying and hazing at the top of its list of priorities for enlisted airmen. The service updated its famous blue and brown books, which give airmen advice on what skills to cultivate to better their careers. The documents describe airmen as a jack of all trades in the military. It also tells enlisted personnel that they need to maintain a high standard of character, trust, respect and inclusion.
  • The House could vote as soon as today on a $40 billion Defense supplemental budget to send more military aid to Ukraine. The measure is bigger than the $33 billion package President Biden requested last month, but isn’t expected to include the COVID relief funds he proposed as part of the package. Defense officials say they’ll run out of funding for military aid shipments in the next three weeks unless Congress passes another supplemental. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon’s inspector general is telling Defense health officials they need to pay attention to potentially-serious patient safety issues stemming from DoD’s new electronic health record. The new management advisory is based on a survey of health care providers the IG conducted in October 2020, but didn’t publicly release until last week. The survey found a majority of military clinicians who use MHS GENESIS have run into inaccurate or outdated patient information. Nearly 94% said the data problems were impacting patient care. The IG said DoD needs to determine whether the problems still exist. DoD, for its part, said it already made substantial improvements to GENESIS in 2021.
  • The Army’s CIO tells industry times are changing and they need to change too. The days of the large monolithic system in the Army are over. Raj Iyer, the Army’s chief information officer, told an industry audience in Philadelphia yesterday that the use of proprietary, non-standard software will not happen on his watch. The Army will no longer spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a system and run it for 10 or 20 years. Iyer said the move to data centricity requires the Army to vendor agnostic, use APIs and take advantage of micro-services. The goal is to be continually modernizing systems and applications.
  • One year after a devastating ransomware attack, the Transportation Security Administration has increased its oversight of pipeline cybersecurity. These days, TSA employs more than 20 specialists focused on pipeline cybersecurity. The agency has also imposed new cyber requirements on pipeline operators since last year’s Colonial Pipeline hack led to fuel shortages up and down the East Coast. TSA said those requirements have yet to disrupt any pipeline operations. Meanwhile, the Transportation Department proposed close to a $1 million fine for Colonial Pipeline last week. Safety regulators say Colonial’s failure to plan for a manual shutdown and restart of its pipeline system contributed to the disruptive fuel shortages. (Federal News Network)
  • A major tech industry group is pressing the Securities and Exchange Commission to delay new cyber requirements. The proposed rule would require public companies to disclose cybersecurity incidents within four days. The Information Technology Industry Council said the current proposal could inadvertently expose unpatched vulnerabilities. ITI said it also conflicts with a new law requiring some companies to report incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The group said delaying the rule could give the SEC and stakeholders time to iron out those issues.
  • The Census Bureau’s Opportunity Project is looking to match agencies up with teams from the private sector to unlock new benefits from federal data. The bureau is calling for participants to join one of this summer’s development sprints. The Commerce Department and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are looking for experts who can use data to help communities access infrastructure grant funding. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking for data driven ways to improve community climate resilience.
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent an official thanks to law firms that helped the little guys protect their inventions. A couple dozen law firms and companies, plus 125 individual volunteers received this year’s Patent Pro Bono Achievement Certificate. The pro bono program, established by Congress in 2011, matches volunteer intellectual property practitioners with inventors. USPTO said in the last year, volunteers spent at least 50 hours each, helping inventors obtain 250 patents at no cost.

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