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The Defense Department is evaluating its own processes with an eye toward making it easier for small companies to provide innovative solutions. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said the DoD innovation steering group is mapping out the transition process from prototype or commercially available product to DoD contract. This process has never been mapped before. The intent is to identify and mitigate bottlenecks in the DoD innovation pipeline. (Federal News Network)
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks is calling on Congress to pass the American Innovation Act to help shore up the Department of Defense’s supply of microelectronics. The act would provide funding for U.S. companies to manufacture microchips. The chips are used across the American economy including in DOD weapons systems. Passing the act would help the DoD get access to enough chips to securely upgrade their systems. The department has already received funding for microelectronic processing in 2022 and asked for similar money in its 2023 budget request. (Federal News Network)
The 11-month project to develop a zero trust architecture is paying off. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is giving agencies their first look at a year long collaboration with 20 vendors for how best to create a zero trust architecture. Draft Special Publication 1800-35A details considerations when building a zero trust architecture using commercially available technology through interoperable, open standards. The high level architecture creates policy enforcement points for people and devices, and brings in functional components like identity and access management and end point security. Comments on the draft publication are due by July 5.
The Department of the Air Force is tapping Kelly Hammett to lead the Space Rapid Capabilities Office. In the new role, Hammett will deliver space capabilities quickly to the Space Force by working closely with industry and the service. Hammett is currently the leader of the directed energy directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. She’s held that position since 2016.
The Biden administration doesn’t think a Space National Guard is the best idea. Now some interest groups are pushing back. The Office of Management and Budget balked at creating a new National Guard service for the Space Force this year. However, groups like the National Guard Association of the United States say that OMB’s assumptions about a Space National Guard were incorrect. The organization says OMB assumed a Guard would be set up in every state, which greatly increased the cost estimate. Only states like Colorado and Florida with space capabilities would set up units. The association is now asking the Biden administration to rethink its stance.
Another new museum may be on the horizon for the Smithsonian Institution. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Monday creating a commission to look into an Asian American and Pacific Islander history museum. The commission will consider whether that should join Smithsonian’s 19 other museums. The Smithsonian currently already has two new museums in the works: the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. (Federal News Network)
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has a new way to help agencies improve their cyber defenses. CISA is building up a Federal Enterprise Improvement Team to assist agencies with their cybersecurity plans. CISA Executive Assistant Director Eric Goldstein says the so-called FEIT teams will help augment the agency’s shared cyber services model. “With these new FEIT teams, we now are hiring personnel who can actually work with individual agencies based upon their unique maturity and characteristics to identify gaps, develop improvement plans and really be with them on their entire journey to improvement,” Goldstein said. (Federal News Network)
The Social Security Administration should focus on improving cybersecurity and protecting vulnerable beneficiaries. That’s according to the Government Accountability Office, which has released its list of priority recommendations for the SSA. GAO also says the agency should focus on modernizing its operations for information technology. That comes as agency leaders say some of SSA’s technology infrastructure is more than 50 years old. The agency is also prioritizing improvements to cybersecurity and IT modernization in its fiscal 2023 budget request.
Thrift Savings Plan participants will soon have access to more of their financial history. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says starting by mid-June, TSP users will be able to see ending account balances going 10 years back. That’s after the TSP board launched a new account interface on June 1. After the update, many participants said they were unable to see their historical account data. Many TSP users have expressed frustrations about the new system, including difficulties navigating the website, and technical glitches.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is trying to bring a national strategy on privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics into focus. OSTP through a request for information is asking for feedback on how privacy-enhancing technologies might assist in climate change, financial crime, human trafficking, pandemic response, and other federal missions. OSTP expects these technologies will also help promote trust in artificial intelligence. OSTP will accept submissions to its RFI through July 8.
The National Security Agency has a new top lawyer. April Falcon Doss was named general counsel of the NSA in May. The agency confirmed her appointment last week. Doss first began working for the NSA in 2003. She is returning to the agency after a stint as Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy. Her selection comes more than a year after the NSA ousted a former Trump White House official who was briefly installed as the agency’s top lawyer.
The Internal Revenue Service revealed their selection for the next deputy chief for the department’s criminal division. Guy Ficco will oversee the 20 field offices, 11 foreign posts and 2,000 special agents investigating financial crimes like tax fraud. Ficco currently serves in the department as executive director of global operations and has worked within the IRS since 1995. Ficco is replacing Jim Robnett who is retiring Wednesday after 28 years in the role.
An IRS whistleblower program that pays tipsters a portion of the money they help recover saw a slump in payouts last year. The IRS Whistleblower Office last year made 179 awards to whistleblowers worth more than $36 million. Whistleblower tips helped the agency collect more than $245 million that same year. That’s just a fraction of the payout from fiscal 2018, when the office issued $312 million in awards to whistleblowers. The report’s findings underwhelmed whistleblower advocates, who are calling on Congress to strengthen the program through bipartisan legislation. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the IRS Whistleblower Program Improvement Act last summer. (Federal News Network)