Air Force will no longer shoot down Facebook foes

Also in today's Federal Newscast, the U.S. Forest Service and Defense Logistics Agency are teaming up to fight fires. And President Biden appoints the first wom...

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  • The Air Force said it will no longer take down critical comments from its Facebook page. The decision comes after a former airman sued the service for taking down his less than flattering comment about the Air Force chief enlisted officer. The page now has a disclaimer that states comments will not be removed and users will not be banned.
  • A new law sets the stage for a larger health care workforce at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Honoring Our PACT Act gives VA the resources it needs to staff-up its health care workforce to treat about 3.5 million post-9/11 combat veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service. President Joe Biden said the VA will be able to move more quickly to determine a veteran’s illness and related military service to obtain benefits. “It means new facilities, improved care, more research and increased hiring and retention of health care workers treating veterans,” Biden said. The bill also expands recruitment and retention bonuses for VA employees. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Inspector General community is taking a closer look at diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility trends in its reports. There’s a new DEIA tagging feature on IG offices can now flag reports specifically related to DEIA issues when publishing documents online. An OIG working group also posted a list of past DEIA-related reports to, going back to fiscal 2014. The group hopes that the update will increase awareness of DEIA projects across the IG community.
  • The U.S. Digital Service is getting a new second-in-command. Cori Zarek will serve as the service’s deputy administrator starting later this month. She currently works as the executive director for Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. She previously served as deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration and as an attorney adviser for the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • President Joe Biden intends to appoint Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to be the first woman to be director of the National Cancer Institute. Bertagnolli will lead the NCI after working as a professor of cancer surgery at Harvard Medical School and as a practicing surgeon at a hospital in Boston. The previous director, Dr. Norman Sharpless, stepped down from the role in April; his deputy, Dr. Douglas Lowy has served in an acting capacity since. Bertagnolli previously served as president and chairwoman of the board of directors of the American Cancer Society and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
  • The 8(a) STARS III contract vehicle is picking up where version 2 left off. Like its predecessor, the 8(a) STARS III governmentwide acquisition contract is going gangbusters. The General Services Administration’s latest update on the year-old contract shows agencies have awarded 271 task orders worth more than $691 million. Out of the more than 1,100 contractors on the vehicle, 135 different 8(a) firms have won awards, including 40 task orders going to companies that are new to GSA. The Department of Homeland Security is among the biggest users of the vehicle, spending 13% of their total 8(a) spend on 8(a) STARS II and III since 2019.
  • Do you have thoughts about the cloud security program known as FedRAMP? Well now’s your chance to tell the program what you think. FedRAMP launched its annual user feedback survey seeking insights on what they’re doing well and what areas need improvement. The program will use the comments to enhance their customer’s experience and provide stakeholders with the tools and services needed to be successful. From last year’s survey, FedRAMP decided to expand its marketplace, incorporate more automation and offer more opportunities to share information. Survey responses for the 2022 version are due by Sept. 9.
  • An influential group of advisers to the Pentagon thinks it’s time Congress made a 30-year pilot program permanent. The Defense Department’s Mentor-Protégé Program pairs larger companies with small businesses in hopes of helping them become long-term military suppliers. Mentors and protégés get special privileges like reimbursements for payments and noncompetitive contracts. Now, the Defense Business Board said it’s time to make the program permanent. Since 1991, the program has been operating under pilot status, but a new study from the board said the program is bringing in new technologies and helping small businesses access DoD. Congress will need to pass a law to make the program a fixture. (Federal News Network)
  • An advisory committee has recommended establishing a Freedom of Information Act enforcer. The FOIA Advisory Committee’s latest proposal would give the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) the power to issue binding decisions in FOIA disputes. OGIS sits under the National Archives and Records Administration. The office has 10 employees and an annual budget of less than $2 million. It currently helps mediate FOIA disputes. The advisory committee said granting OGIS binding decision authority would help improve FOIA compliance across government. But the committee also acknowledges the idea likely needs further scrutiny and has recommended the National Archivist commission a feasibility study. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Logistics Agency is teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to combat the spread of wildfires. More than 1.5 million acres have already burned in large fires across the country this year. DLA said wildfire preparations have become year-round and intends to start preparing for next year by October.
  • The Transportation Security Administration launched a new online renewal option to process an important credential. Starting today, eligible workers will be able to renew their Transportation Worker Identification Credential over the internet. The card is required for workers who need to access secure areas at maritime facilities and vessels. The majority of credential holders renew their card every five years. Doing it online eliminates the need for workers to visit a TSA enrollment center.

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