Pentagon removes almost all of its COVID-related workplace restrictions

In today's Federal Newscast: If you work inside the Pentagon, you'll experience almost no workplace COVID-related restrictions. A new crop of White House Fellow...

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  • For the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, the Pentagon has removed almost all of its workplace restrictions. A memo issued yesterday puts the Pentagon campus and other DoD worksites in the D.C. region into “Health Protection Condition Alpha.” Among other things, the new status means unvaccinated employees and contractors won’t have to take COVID tests. And visitors won’t be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test before they enter the building.
  • Amid concerns over rising threats against feds, lawmakers are asking the Department of Homeland Security for more details. House Democrats are looking for answers from DHS’ Federal Protective Service, on the resources it needs to better protect the federal workforce. Lawmakers said threats against feds rose after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The representatives asked for details on how FPS monitors threats, and how it works to address risks on social media platforms. They also asked about the cost to heighten agency security, and if FPS has adequate funding to protect agencies. (Federal News Network)
  • The new class of White House fellows will be landing at 15 agencies in the coming weeks. The Biden administration is deploying these competitively chosen young leaders at agencies ranging from the Social Security Administration to the National Security Council. The fellows bring a wide-range of experience including a pediatric dentist, an educator, and a lieutenant for the New York City Police Department. The White House will begin accepting applications for the next class of fellows on November 1.
  • The Justice Department is adding more firepower to its COVID fraud strike force. DoJ will team with eight other agencies to establish new strike force teams in California, Florida and Maryland. The interagency team, which includes prosecutors and investigators from the IRS, the Postal Service and the Small Business Administration, will continue to identify resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and share and harness information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. Justice said over the last year the teams have recovered more than $1.2 billion in relief funds from more than 1,500 defendants.
  • Concerns have been raised over a software supply chain provision in the 2023 defense bill. Four industry associations are sounding the alarm over a provision in the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill that they said could cause confusion across government and contradict current cybersecurity efforts. The Alliance for Digital Innovation, the Software Alliance, the Cybersecurity Coalition and the IT Industry Association wrote to House and Senate leaders expressing concern over the DHS Software Supply Chain Risk Management provision in the House version of the NDAA. The associations said the provision is vague, and it’s premature to legislate requirements for software bill of materials. (Federal News Network)
  • The White House is out with new guidance for securing federal software. The Office of Management and Budget is directing agencies to obtain self-attestations from software vendors that they’re following secure development practices. OMB said agencies need to inventory their third-party software within 90 days, and obtain the self-attestations for all software they use within one year. The use of software bills of materials and other security artifacts is optional, but encouraged. OMB hopes the new requirements will help avoid a future SolarWinds-like cyber attack. (Federal News Network)
  • A new executive takes her seat at the Department of Health and Human Services. Melanie Fontes Rainer has been sworn in as director of the Office for Civil Rights, where she had been acting director. The office has a wide portfolio, including health data privacy, and patient safety and quality improvement. Rainer was counselor to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and earlier was a special assistant attorney general and health adviser in the California Department of Justice.
  • The House has passed a bill that would take away the Securities and Exchange Commission’s real estate leasing authority, giving it to the General Services Administration. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) first introduced the bill in 2011, and it passed out of committee this July. In 2021, the SEC said it would use GSA in future real estate deals. If the bill becomes law, the SEC would be held to that promise.
  • Military spouses in the national capital region will have an opportunity to meet a growing list of prospective employers. The DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership will hold its first ever in-person job fair in Arlington next month. Over 540 government organizations, private- sector companies and nonprofits work with the program to find job placement for military spouses.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is partnering with the Agriculture Department to host “FedsWISH,” a walk to raise awareness about American health challenges and hunger. OPM encourages feds and agencies across the country to participate in the event at the end of the month, put on by USDA’s Feds Feed Families initiative.

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