A tale of two agencies trying to implement a new electronic health record

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  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will postpone the rollout of its new Electronic Health Record at four sites until next year. The agency made the decision following several reports that raised significant concerns about the system’s reliability. The new EHR will now go live in March 2023 for VA medical centers in the Puget Sound VA Health Care System. The EHR will also now go live at two facilities in the Portland VA Health Care System next April. The EHR will still go live in Boise, Idaho on July 23 this year as planned. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is now more than halfway through the deployment of its new multibillion dollar electronic health record. Officials say the latest waves of the rollout, finished earlier this month, brought MHS Genesis to the point where it’s now operating across the continental US, with more than 114,000 users. The military health system is using a customized version of the same Cerner Millennium software VA has been struggling to implement, but the DoD version is much further along. Defense officials say they still expect to finish deploying the system to all of their facilities by the end of next year.
  • Three agencies win money to modernize their technology systems. The Technology Modernization Fund board handed out another $95 million dollars to three agencies for network upgrades and cybersecurity projects. The Agriculture Department is receiving $64 million to consolidate the number of networks from 17 to one. This is USDA’s fifth award from the TMF board. The Department of Homeland Security won $26.9 million to help modernize its Homeland Security Information Network or HSIN. Finally, the Federal Trade Commission will receive $3.9 million to procure a security operations center-as-a-service in order to implement a zero trust architecture.
  • The General Services Administration receives the highest honor from the Professional Services Council for how it forecasts procurement opportunities. PSC says GSA did the best job of the 62 agencies and sub-agencies it reviewed in its fourth annual Federal Business Forecast Scorecard. The Marine Corps Systems Command and the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command earned honorable mentions for their efforts to provide industry with timely and relevant information about their acquisition plans. Overall, 17 agencies received a high rating, up from 15 in 2021.
  • 15,000 federal firefighters are about to see more money in their paychecks. The White House announces a temporary pay raise for federal wildland firefighters. The wage increase is part of a $600 million investment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Federal wildland firefighters will get the lower amount between either $20,000 more per year, or a 50% boost to their base salary. The firefighters will also receive retroactive pay going back to October of last year. The temporary increase will last through September 2023. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army is bumping up its quick-ship bonus for all new recruits. The service is offering $35,000 to future soldiers who go to basic training within 45-days of signing a four-year contract. The previous bonus was $25,000. There is also a two-year enlistment option, which can afford new soldiers with an extra $10,000.
  • Lawmakers want to ensure the Defense Department has a stock of rare earth minerals for future fighting systems. The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to authorize $1 billion for the National Defense Stockpile in 2023. That would double the value of the rare earth minerals the Defense Department amasses for rainy days. Concerns over the National Defense Stockpile rose during COVID as supply chains dried up. Many military officials and lawmakers are concerned that China is becoming the United States’ only source to get some critical elements for making weapons.
  • The Air Force and Air University are considering the best ways to incorporate joint all-domain operations training into professional military education. JADO is part of the Defense Department’s larger strategy and connects aspects of air, space, land, cyber and sea. The Air Force recently held initial discussions on how to add JADO to its training during a two-day summit. Officials say JADO training is needed for DoD’s next generation of weapons, which will be interconnected and use technologies like artificial intelligence.
  • Federal cyber professionals could soon get more chances to broaden their government experience. President Joe Biden signed the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act into law on Tuesday. The goal of the program is to give cybersecurity employees the chance to rotate between different cyber jobs in different departments and agencies. The Office of Personnel Management is now responsible for setting up the rotational program.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is making some big changes to its disciplinary processes. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is directing DHS components to centralize disciplinary actions. Allegations of serious misconduct will be handled by a dedicated group of trained professionals who are not the employees’ immediate supervisor. DHS is also refining its disciplinary guidance to ensure penalties match the severity of the misconduct. Mayorkas directed the changes after unpublished inspector general reports came to light showing sexual misconduct and domestic violence being overlooked at some DHS law enforcement components. (Federal News Network)
  • Challenges in the new Thrift Savings Plan system are raising concerns on Capitol Hill.  Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) calls on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to explain the cause of technical issues, unprecedented customer service hold times, and missing financial information. She asked the board to share its plan for how to fix the issues. The board responded to Norton’s letter, saying the new system is an essential modernization effort for TSP, and that they’re making progress to resolve the issues. Norton says the board’s response does not fully address her questions, and she’s continuing to push for more answers.
  • The IRS is rounding the corner on its pandemic-era backlog of tax returns. The IRS this week expects to finish processing the backlog of individual tax returns the agency received in 2021. As of June 10 this year, the IRS processed more than 4.5 million of the 4.7 million individual paper tax returns it received in 2021. The agency says it’s also successfully processed the “vast majority” of tax returns filed this year. The agency started 2022 with a higher than average workload because of staffing shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic. (Federal News Network)
  • President Biden nominated Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba to be U.S. Treasurer. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first Native American in the role, which oversees the U.S. Mint and is a liaison to the Federal Reserve. The treasurer also oversees Treasury’s Office of Consumer Policy, and the Biden administration’s new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs at the Treasury Department. Malerba is the 18th chief of the Mohegan Indian Tribe, and she would join at least four other prominent Native appointees in the administration, including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and several federal judges.
  • A veteran of the federal science and technology community is up to be President Biden’s chief advisor for S&T. Biden nominates Arati Prabhakar to be the new director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. She was director of DARPA — short for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — under the Obama administration and was the first female director of NIST during the Clinton administration. Currently she is the CEO of Actuate, a nonprofit that designs R&D solutions using the DARPA method for innovation.

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