Education Dept gearing up for President Biden’s student loan cancellation plans

Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

Federal support of student loans has not kept pace with the rising costs of attending college. Now, the White House is sharing some plans to correct that disparity. The Education Department, for example, will offer debt cancellation to some low-income students. The agency is also trying to work quickly to set up a simple application process...

READ MORE

Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

  • Federal support of student loans has not kept pace with the rising costs of attending college. Now, the White House is sharing some plans to correct that disparity. The Education Department, for example, will offer debt cancellation to some low-income students. The agency is also trying to work quickly to set up a simple application process to help borrowers claim debt relief. Additionally, borrowers who join the federal workforce, the military, or a nonprofit, will receive credit toward loan forgiveness, the White House said.
  • The contractor for the Thrift Savings Plan modernization project apologizes, and explains the reasons behind the troublesome transition. Accenture Federal Services said two key decisions negatively impacted the TSP update in June. The contractor for TSP’s new system said many frustrations can be traced back to not adding enough customer service staff, and making the initial login process too cumbersome. Since the launch, there have been improvements, but Accenture has more plans to boost participants’ use of digital services. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal contractors have 30 days to contact the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs about a potential release of Equal Employment Opportunity data. OFCCP issued a notice seeking feedback from vendors who did business as primes or subcontractors with the government from 2016 to 2020. Labor said it has received a Freedom of Information Act request for all annual reports submitted to the EEOC detailing employee demographic data categorized by race/ethnicity, sex and job category. Labor said they want to know if contractors will file a timely objection explaining why their EEO-1 data is exempt from disclosure.
  • President Biden appoints a new leader at the Secret Service. The White House announced Kim Cheatle as the next director of the law enforcement agency. Cheatle is currently a senior director at PepsiCo North America. She previously served in the Secret Service for 27 years. She’ll replace outgoing Director Jim Murray. Cheatle will become just the second woman to head the Secret Service. She’ll take over as the agency grapples with controversy around missing text messages sent by agents before and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol building.
  • The Department of Homeland Security looks to forge its own path for gauging contractor cybersecurity. DHS is planning to use self-assessments to evaluate the cybersecurity of its contractors. DHS Chief Information Security Officer Ken Bible said the agency wants to ensure contractors are following existing standards. “The requirement has always been there,” Bible said. “We’re just talking about how do we assess the maturity of industry in meeting it.” DHS determined following a third-party certification model, like the Pentagon’s CMMC, would be too onerous on small businesses. (Federal News Network)
  • Members of the Senior Executive Service will get a chance to weigh in on cross-sector collaboration. The Senior Executives Association and Deloitte want feedback on current practices of collaboration with private sector and academic entities. The survey also will ask SESers what help from those outside entities agencies need to solve problems. SEA and Deloitte hope the results of the survey will identify the steps needed to develop the organizational process for the next generation of cross-sector collaborations.
  • The Air Force Research Laboratory said it has developed technology that will help the military control the temperature of space components while in orbit. The lab is releasing 6,600 hours of data on its oscillating heat pipes to the public to continue the advancement of space technologies. The pipes are part of the Air Force’s Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader Two experiment and most recently flew with a Space Force mission.
  • The Defense Department is shifting the way it handles traumatic brain injuries. The Pentagon is implementing a new policy that takes a comprehensive approach to brain health. The new action plan outlines five areas of effort that range from constant monitoring for brain injuries to further research on them. The policy changes how DoD approaches the issues by focusing on a service member’s career-long brain health instead of treating brain injuries as one-off instances. Between 2000 and 2021, nearly 454,000 service members suffered from traumatic brain injuries. (Federal News Network)
  • Making federal procurement more environmentally sustainable faces three major obstacles according to a former General Services Administration and DoD official. Former Public Buildings Service Commissioner Dorothy Robyn wrote a report outlining these obstacles and her recommendations to  achieve greener federal procurement. Climate goals need to be integrated in agency missions, agencies need more funding and more flexible budget rules to make buildings more efficient, and the federal procurement process itself needs to incentivize lower lifecycle costs rather than just the low price rule. (Federal News Network)
  • Artificial intelligence can help financial regulators spot new kinds of fraud. At the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, data leaders are using AI to sift through disparate complaints and match like or identical cases for investigation. Tamara Roust, chief data officer and director of the Division of Data at CFTC, said AI systems can help investigators spot Ponzi schemes faster and bring related fraudsters for an overall legal case. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Management and Budget’s decision to change some of the cyber metrics rankles one good government group. Agencies are no longer being asked to report 14 different metrics under the Federal Information Security Management Act around mobile devices. And one organization that worked with federal cyber experts to help develop those metrics believes the changes are short sighted. The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center wrote to White House Cyber Director Chris Inglis asking for him to urge OMB to restore those metrics. ATARC said OMB’s FISMA changes are inherently flawed as it will take CISA at least one year to create a new mobile security reporting structure. Agencies will be “flying blind” as they try to protect mobile devices.
  • To help people with cognitive disabilities, the Library of Congress recommends designing content to create consistency across all interactions, as well as warning users at the start of an interaction how long it will take, like before filling out a form on a website. Rachael Bradley Montgomery, a digital disability architect at the LOC, explained that cognitive disabilities affect more people than you may think, at the Federal Plain Language Summit hosted by Digital.gov. These include dyslexia and PTSD, but also anxiety and age-related forgetfulness.

Related Stories

    TSP

    ‘We got it wrong’: TSP contractor apologizes for initial issues, shares positive progress

    Read more
    (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2020, file photo a U.S. Department of Homeland Security plaque is displayed a podium as international passengers arrive at Miami international Airport where they are screened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Miami. The damned-if-you-pay-damned-if-you-don’t dilemma on ransomware payments has left U.S. officials fumbling about how to respond. While the Biden administration “strongly discourages” paying, it recognizes that failing to pay would be suicidal for some victims. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

    DHS eyes plan to use self-assessments to evaluate contractor cybersecurity

    Read more