USDA plants more seeds to grow DEIA efforts

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

The Agriculture Department released a roadmap for achieving its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals. The agency has six new focus areas for the next several years, covering everything from building a more inclusive workplace culture, to collecting better data on diversity. The strategic plan follows the recent USDA equity action plan, which established an equity...

READ MORE

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

  • The Agriculture Department released a roadmap for achieving its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals. The agency has six new focus areas for the next several years, covering everything from building a more inclusive workplace culture, to collecting better data on diversity. The strategic plan follows the recent USDA equity action plan, which established an equity commission at the department. The agency said it built the roadmap based on feedback from employees and stakeholders.
  • The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee introduced a bill codifying open source software as public infrastructure. This will put open source software under the purview of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, putting it in charge of making sure vulnerabilities like those discovered in Log4j don’t harm the federal government or critical infrastructure.
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has its second permanent leader under the Biden administration. The Senate confirmed former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Arati Prabhakar to lead OSTP. Prabhakar also previously served as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She will take over for the last permanent director, Eric Lander, who resigned after an internal investigation concluded he mistreated staff. Prabahakar is the the first woman, immigrant or person of color to serve as OSTP director.
  • A new survey of inspectors general highlights the continued challenges and opportunities around data. The Labor Department’s inspector general estimated that unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic topped more than $45.6 billion. But that could have been a lot less if federal, state and local agencies could have shared data more easily. A new draft survey of IGs from the Association of Government Accountants found data sharing remains one of their biggest obstacles. Respondents said they faced challenges in getting the data like the social security number that was used to apply for unemployment insurance in 29 states. Then, the IGs said, the underlying technology to analyze the data also needed attention. AGA said the final results of the survey should be available in the coming month or so. (Federal News Network)
  • Google has named a new executive to head up its three-month-old public sector unit. Karen Dahut joins Google Public Sector as CEO,  succeeding Will Grannis, who returns to his prior job as chief technology officer of Google Cloud. Dahut arrived from Booz Allen Hamilton, where she led its defense business. Earlier, as an officer, she was controller for the Navy’s biomedical research institute. Google established Public Sector in June to help federal, state and local governments with digital transformation projects.
  • Lawmakers want to secure funding for offices that help with everything from natural disasters to federal recruitment. Bipartisan senators introduced legislation aiming to boost collaboration among federal agency offices that are located outside of Washington, D.C. A new bill would authorize Federal Executive Boards,  meaning they would receive stable funding from Congress. The senators said the bill would establish a reliable interagency fund for board office operations. FEBs work with agencies to support federal workforce development, through things like internship and apprenticeship programs.
  • The General Services Administration’s Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee will focus on three work streams over the next year to suggest short- and long-term improvements. At the committee’s inaugural meeting yesterday, GSA named 28 members from a broad set of backgrounds, including former Hill staffers Troy Cribbs and Richard Beutel to state and local government experts to large contractor senior executives. The recommendations for how to embed climate and sustainability considerations in federal acquisition will come from the work of three subcommittees, which will focus on the acquisition workforce, acquisition policies and practices, and industry partnership.
  • The Justice Department finds employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot be sued for providing agency-approved abortions. DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel told VA that its interim final rule on providing patients access to abortions “is a lawful exercise of VA’s authority.” The VA under its rule can only provide abortion counseling or services in cases of rape, incest, or situations that endanger the life or health of a patient. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said DOJ determined that states cannot penalize VA employees through criminal prosecution, revoking their medical credentials or civil litigation. “I think this OLC opinion makes very clear the protections that are afforded VA providers,” McDonough said. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is taking several new steps to help servicemembers cope with high housing costs. Troops living in 28 high-cost areas will get automatic increases to their housing allowances next month, and the Pentagon, by January, will review all of its housing areas to make sure the allowances are keeping pace with market prices. Among other initiatives to deal with costs of living, DoD said it’s also boosting subsidies to commissaries so that they can cut the prices servicemembers pay for groceries. (Federal News Network)

 

Related Stories

    (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, testifies before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

    DOJ finds VA employees can’t be sued by states for providing agency-approved abortions

    Read more
    Amelia Brust/Federal News Network

    Pentagon to boost housing stipends in areas where rental costs have ballooned

    Read more

The latest in Government Events powered by: