The IC gets a new data czar

  • The intelligence community has a new data czar. Lori Wade is the IC’s latest chief data officer. She replaced Nancy Morgan, who retired from government service earlier this year. Wade has served in various data, tech and management roles across the intelligence community for more than two decades. She said her top priorities as CDO include expanding the adoption of enterprise data services and improving end-to-end data management planning.
  • Two dozen programs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be increasing their investments in communities overburdened by pollution. The programs are fulfilling President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative. The policy will deliver 40% of the overall benefits of clean water, clean energy and affordable housing to disadvantaged communities. The HUD programs included will create affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities and tribal communities.
  • A new legal opinion about the Technology Modernization Fund has shed light on the payback options. Agencies receiving loans or awards from the Technology Modernization Fund are still on the hook to payback some money, but not necessarily all the money. The Government Accountability Office reviewed the TMF statue and determined that agencies have some leeway with the requirement to payback the loans. GAO’s review comes after OMB updated the TMF loan requirements in 2021, which reduced the mandate for agencies to pay back all of the money. OMB even offered an option where no payback is required at all. GAO said OMB’s decision not to require full payback is compatible with the purposes underlying the TMF. Auditors said they still have concerns about the long-term solvency of the program.
  • The Army is offering new incentives to help recruitment efforts. In some cases, $50,000 bonuses are being offered when future soldiers first join the Army and $35,000 bonuses are offered to soldiers who can ship out within 45 days of signing a contract. They’re also offering soldiers the ability to choose their first duty station after training as a way to secure a more predictable future. The Army had trouble recruiting over the pandemic, so new initiatives are being rolled out now that recruiting is once again in person.
  • Four thousand Immigration and Customs Enforcement — or “ICE” — officers are separating from their parent union. The American Federation of Government Employees is losing its bargaining unit for ICE officers at the Department of Homeland Security. The union chapter has filed paperwork with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to legally separate itself from AFGE. The union said it’s now moving forward to disclaim interest in the unit. That comes after AFGE and the ICE chapter were unable to resolve some ongoing political disputes.
  • Congress is investigating whether third-party records companies are profiting from a pandemic-induced backlog of veterans disability claims. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent letters on Friday to three companies to see if they’re improperly marketing expedited records services to veterans who need to file disability claims while the National Personnel Records Center works through its rising backlog. The claims are needed to access services like housing and health care, but the records are supposed to be free to veterans. (Federal News Network)
  • Intel officials are taking steps to ensure the security clearance process is not hindering diversity, equity and inclusion. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is introducing cultural competency training for security clearance investigators and adjudicators. Officials are also reviewing data to determine whether race or ethnicity is a factor in the security clearance process. These efforts come as the intelligence community lags behind the broader federal workforce on diversity metrics. Earlier this year, ODNI established an Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility to the intelligence community’s DEI strategy.  (Federal News Network)
  • Staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the IRS to suspend visits to tax preparers who do not comply with tax credit rules. Now, a new report from the Government Accountability Office recommends the IRS should test video conferencing to conduct the visits and see if the benefits will outweigh the costs. IRS officials said more interaction with preparers can help them identify problems and improve compliance with requirements.
  • The US Marshals Service is still modernizing its legacy IT system with an eye on increased data access and standardization. To move to a cloud environment,  the service built out a long-term financing plan and brought teams from its nationwide field offices to the agency headquarters to reach a consensus on what needs fixing. The Service also paid a premium for certain specialists to do important testing and analysis early on in the planning. Now, it’s trying to reduce its data center foot print and reduce inconsistences in that data across mission areas. (Federal News Network)
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying its best to keep pace with the private sector for hiring technology experts. The agency has launched a new hiring program to bring more technologists to the bureau. That includes recruiting for roles in both data science and data strategy. Additionally, CFPB’s Chief Risk Officer Marianne Roth said the bureau will soon release an emerging risk profile to prioritize growing risks to the organization.
  • The Labor Department proposed a rule to provide workers on federal service contracts the right of first refusal. On Friday, the department moved to implement the requirements of an executive order signed by President Joe Biden that requires federal service contractors offer employees, hired under a predecessor, a right of first refusal of employment on the successor contract. Specifically, DOL is proposing rules to establish standards and procedures for implementing and enforcing the executive order, as well as establishing an investigation process that protects workers from displacement.

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