The first female U.S. military service chief is sworn in

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It’s official: the U.S. military has its first-ever female service chief. Adm. Linda Fagan was sworn in yesterday as commandant of the Coast Guard. President Biden presided over the ceremony. Fagan previously served as the service’s vice commandant, and the Senate unanimously confirmed her promotion...

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  • It’s official: the U.S. military has its first-ever female service chief. Adm. Linda Fagan was sworn in yesterday as commandant of the Coast Guard. President Biden presided over the ceremony. Fagan previously served as the service’s vice commandant, and the Senate unanimously confirmed her promotion last month. She succeeds Adm. Karl Shultz, who’s been the Coast Guard’s top officer since 2018.
  • A government watchdog says the Army is taking too long in reforming its sexual assault and harassment program. The Government Accountability Office says the Army’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program is disjointed and unclear. That leads to confusion for commands and personnel, according to the report. GAO says there are discrepancies between Army and Pentagon harassment and assault prevention policies and a lack of data on how well the programs work. The Army is taking serious steps to address sexual harassment and assault in its ranks, and has started implementing a handful of new policies and programs.
  • The Defense Department says there are high levels of toxic chemicals in the drinking water of some of its bases in Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington State and Michigan. The chemicals, known as PFAS, are linked to multiple deadly diseases and are used in firefighting chemicals. Some bases’ drinking water had more than ten times the EPA allowable amount of the toxins.
  • DISA pulls the plug on its milCloud 2 offering. milCloud 2.0 is no more. Six months after announcing it would turn off the cloud offering, the Defense Information Systems Agency transitioned 95 applications out of the environment. Sharon Woods is the director of the DISA’s Host and Compute Center. “Of the 95, 60 of those went to Stratus, DISA’s private cloud offering, 18 of them went to commercial cloud and then there were 17, whose accounts they just let expire.” Woods says it took an all-hands-on-deck effort to beat the June 8 deadline set in December.
  • The Pentagon says its new Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence office is now fully up and running. The CDAO office is part of a restructuring DoD announced earlier this year, combining the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service and the department’s chief data officer into a single management structure. The new office has also made two new hires: Joe Larson will serve as the deputy CDAO for artificial intelligence, and Diane Staheli will be the new chief for responsible AI.
  • The Small Business Administration established a new Fraud Risk Management Board in April, but a new audit says it may be too little, too late. The SBA inspector general found the agency didn’t have a solid structure or leadership to manage fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program, established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act. The lack of a sufficient fraud risk framework meant SBA is struggling to deal with more than 70,000 loans totaling over $4.6 billion in potentially fraudulent PPP loans. The IG says SBA changed its process to review loans in June 2021, prioritizing by risk level instead of the order the forgiveness application was submitted.
  • Data quality issues following the launch of a new Electronic Health Record is putting a VA hospital’s accreditation at risk. The first VA medical center to launch its new Electronic Health Record (EHR) is running into data quality challenges so severe that its inspector general’s office is concerned whether the facility can maintain its hospital accreditation. The report finds a VA medical center in Spokane, Washington still lacks critical quality and patient safety metrics a year after the EHR go-live. The report states that the facility losing its accreditation would hurt patients’ trust in the facility and make it harder to recruit quality employees. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies are looking at whether they have the right cybersecurity capabilities in place. A cross-agency working group is reviewing government-wide contracts to determine whether agencies have the capabilities to follow through on last year’s cyber executive order. The National Institutes of Health is leading the working group. The General Services Administration is also involved. The executive order has ramped up requirements for agencies to use tools and services like event log management, multifactor authentication and secure software development. (Federal News Network)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is moving ahead with a key software security initiative. CISA will hold eight listening sessions in July to discuss the Software Bill of Materials concept. CISA says the engagements will help drive implementation of the SBOM forward. CISA and other agencies are considering how to use SBOMs to improve the security of the government’s software supply chain.
  • This summer, the IRS is opening 4,000 new federal jobs for contact representatives nationwide. Those positions provide administrative and technical assistance to the public — over the phone, through writing and in person. The hiring push is part of IFS’s goal to boost its workforce and give better help to taxpayers and businesses. The full-time positions fall under direct-hire authority and start at the General Schedule 5 level. Starting June 3, IRS will host info sessions to detail job responsibilities and offer tips on applying.
  • Federal law enforcement officers may see more requirements in the hiring process. The Justice Department should include a polygraph exam or psychological assessment for all law enforcement applicants. That’s according to the Federal Managers Association, which calls on the department to invest in, and standardize, its hiring process. FMA recommends using current practices for special agents as a model — like those at the Drug Enforcement Agency. The request also builds on the executive order to advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety.
  • The Postal Service says it’s open to buying more electric vehicles if its facility consolidation plan comes into focus. USPS says plans to consolidate delivery operations into Sort and Delivery Centers would reduce the number of facilities where it would need to install charging stations. USPS employees affected by this consolidation would also drive their delivery vehicles longer distances to start their routes. USPS says it will soon publish a Notice of Intent meant to supplement the Final Environmental Impact Statement for its next-generation delivery vehicle fleet. (Federal News Network)

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