The Pentagon may not be paying enough attention to its civilian workforce

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The Government Publishing Office has made progress in modernizing over the last two decades. But human capital and acquisition remain its biggest obstacles to transforming into a modern digital publisher. That’s the takeaway from a report by CG Strategy Inc, a firm hired by GPO’s...

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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 Government Publishing Office has made progress in modernizing over the last two decades. But human capital and acquisition remain its biggest obstacles to transforming into a modern digital publisher. That’s the takeaway from a report by CG Strategy Inc, a firm hired by GPO’s office of inspector general to evaluate the agency’s modernization progress. Among the report’s recommendations are creation of a chief strategy officer, adoption of electronic records management and automation and an integrated dashboard to track implementation across the enterprise.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has at least 100 use cases for artificial intelligence, but now comes the hard part. Oki Mek, the former Chief AI Officer at HHS, says the agency wasn’t sure how many of its AI use cases complied with federal mandates, recommendations and executive orders. “There was no clarity, in terms of, are they following that policy. Is there any governance?” Mek says moving those uses cases toward compliance was one of his key goals as the chief AI officer. He also says data issues stood out as a persistent challenge for AI use cases at HHS — especially trying to understand where the data resides. Mek now works as the chief information security officer at Equideum Health. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration is sunsetting its URL shortening service at Go.USA.gov in September. Before jumping over to a new link shortening service, GSA recommends considering the pitfalls of using them, such as security concerns and potential for confusing customers. The Go.USA service will continue to support links created since 2017, but any created before then will go dead on September 18. Metrics for Go.USA.gov links will also become unavailable after the September sunset date.
  • An influential DoD advisory group says the Defense Department needs to pay a lot more management attention to its civilian workforce. As part of a new set of recommendations, the Defense Business Board says Congress should create a brand new undersecretary of Defense that focuses exclusively on talent management for DoD’s roughly 800-thousand civilian employees. The board says DoD’s current organizational structures mean that no one’s really leading the civilian workforce or planning for its future needs.
  • If DoD implemented CMMC standards today, most contractors would fall short. Of the 110 requirements outlined in version 2 of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification or CMMC initiative, Defense Department data shows DoD components’ only met 78% of the 110 security controls that are required to secure controlled, unclassified information or CUI in the systems of their defense contractors. A new report by the Government Accountability Office highlights progress to secure CUI, but also demonstrates just how far DoD and its vendors still must go to improve their cybersecurity. GAO says the Navy and Marines Corps were closest to meeting the CUI requirements with more than 80% of the CMMC controls implemented. The Air Force, the Army, the Defense Health Agency and the other DoD agencies met less than 80% of the security standards.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development’s acquisition workforce is managing four times as many contracts by total dollar value than similar contracting officers in the Defense Department. USAID told Congress earlier this month that the average contracting officer manages 65 million dollars in contracts a year, while the average DoD contracting officer manages 15 million dollars. This is why USAID and now the Professional Services Council are pressing lawmakers to fully fund the agency’s 2023 budget request to hire more employees. PSC wrote a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders asking for their support to ensure USAID has the necessary funding and hiring flexibility to expand the number of positions to address the required contracting workload.
  • The Justice Department names a new leader to reach out to underserved communities. Deputy Associate Attorney General Rachel Rossi will serve as director the DOJ’s Office for Access to Justice. The office focuses on understanding and addressing the most urgent legal needs of communities across the country. The DOJ office created the office in 2010, and remained a standalone component until 2017. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last fall the department is restoring the office as its own component.
  • Teleworking two days per week is the sweet spot for the Justice Department’s Attorney Offices. In a survey from the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, or NAAUSA data shows that the two-day telework policy maximizes productivity and improves employee retention. Survey respondents with more telework also report feeling respected by their supervisors. But 28% of Attorney Offices allow fewer than two days of telework per week. NAAUSA urges the Justice Department to create a uniform telework policy for all of its offices.
  • Starting Thursday, federal retirees will see a new system to access their retirement benefits. The Office of Personnel Management is adding a layer of security for retirement accounts. On May 26, OPM’s “Retirement Services Online” is switching over from its original landing page to login dot gov. To continue access your account, federal retirees should make a username and password for Login.gov, if they don’t already have one. You can find steps on how to make an account on OPM’s website.

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