Air Force needs to throttle up to fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities, DoD IG says

In today's Federal Newscast: DoD IG says the Air Force needs to throttle up to fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The Postal Service is confident it can deliver...

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  • The Air Force is pledging to shore up some key cybersecurity practices by the end of next month. That’s after a recent management advisory by DoD’s inspector general found the service was violating its own policies by letting serious vulnerabilities linger on its networks for much longer than they should have. The exact numbers are redacted from a public version of the advisory, but the IG said the cyber weaknesses routinely went unaddressed for four months or longer. Air Force policy requires those problems to be mitigated within 30 days.
  • New tools are coming to make sure agencies are complying with accessibility standards. The General Services Administration is developing a new tool for agencies only to review solicitations posted on Andrew Nielsen, the director of governmentwide IT accessibility programs in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy, said  it will use AI, machine learning and natural language processing to scrape information from solicitations. “The intent is to identify solicitations that are soliciting IT products or services, and then to identify or to flag those that don’t include any accessibility related requirements,” Nielsen said. (Federal News Network)
  • One federal union has raised concerns about the authority of managers over the use of weather and safety leave. The American Federation of Government Employees said managers have too much discretion over employees being able to use the special type of paid leave, especially when it comes to telework. AFGE said managers should use local conditions to determine the use of the leave, including teleworking challenges such as power outages. Agencies can grant weather and safety leave to employees who are unable to travel safely to and from work.
  • Federal firefighter advocates are calling on the White House to create a better pay solution. The Grassroots Wildland Firefighters and the National Federation of Federal Employees are urging the Biden administration to provide better work-life balance and a permanent pay increase for federal firefighters. They are also calling for overtime and hazard pay to count toward their overall retirement benefits. The union and advocacy group said it is especially important since federal firefighters face significant recruitment and retention challenges.
  • Cloud vendors sharpen your pencils, as the next mega infrastructure contract is about to hit the street. The Interior Department will release the final solicitation for its cloud hosting III contract on or about November 1. This single-award contract could be worth $1 billion over 11 years. Interior is looking for a contractor to establish enterprise cloud managed services to help DoI offices obtain cloud storage and application services across multiple service vendors. Interior said bids would be due about 45 days after the RFP is released.
  • One agency is challenging technology vendors to up their game when it comes to designing cyber-secure products. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is calling on tech companies to publish data on how many of their users are enrolled in multifactor authentication. CISA also wants to see statistics around how companies secure the accounts of privileged users, like system administrators. CISA senior technical adviser Bob Lord said the agency is encouraging tech vendors to be more transparent about their security practices. “We want to shift the burden to the organizations that are best positioned to really drive improvements,” Lord said. “For those of you who are vendors? What would it look like for my organization to take real ownership of the security outcomes of all of my valued customers?”
  • The Pentagon’s research arm is looking to cross new frontiers in its pursuit of artificial intelligence. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is launching an Artificial Intelligence Reinforcements program. DARPA said the “AIR” project aims to advance how autonomous systems can adapt to changing conditions in real-world environments. The agency will host a classified proposer’s day on November 14 to discuss the effort in greater detail.
  • The Postal Service said it’s ready to handle another busy election season. USPS already delivered more than 51 million ballots to-and-from voters during this year’s primary election season. On average, it took USPS less than two days to deliver ballots. USPS faces an upcoming overhaul of its nationwide delivery network. But USPS Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Steve Monteith said this remains in the planning stages and won’t hamper mail delivery this election season. “Ultimately, we believe it will help us improve reliability for all of our customers, including election officials and voters,” Monteith said. (Federal News Network)
  • Two years after Congress passed a law to expand telehealth services at the Veterans Affairs Department, Senate VA Committee leaders said the agency is taking too long to act. The Hannon Act, signed in 2020, requires the VA to create or expand partnerships to increase the number of locations where VA telehealth is available at non-VA facilities. But Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said they are concerned the VA will not award its first telehealth grants, under this legislation, until the fall of fiscal 2025. The senators are asking VA for an update on the status of the telehealth grant program and what its plans might be to fast-track its implementation.
  • The Trump organization charged the Secret Service more than $1.4 million to protect the former president at properties he and his family own during his administration. That’s according to documents obtained by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said that in 2017 the Trump organization charged Secret Service agents as much as $1,185 dollars a night, nearly five times the government rate at the time. Maloney is asking the Secret Service to provide the committee with a complete list of all spending at Trump-owned properties.


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