DoD IG finds major flaws in the reporting of insider threats

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  • Federal employees and retirees will see a major hike in their health premiums next year. Participants in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will pay, on average, 8.7% more in healthcare premiums for 2023. That sharp of an increase has not been seen in over a decade. The Office of Personnel Management attributes the spike to changes from COVID-19 and rising prescription drug prices. FEHBP participants can make changes to their health plans during the upcoming open season, which runs November 14 to December 12. (Federal News Network)
  • Concerns have risen, once again, about prices under the GSA schedule contracts. The General Services Administration’s inspector general is offering yet another warning that agency customers may not be getting the lowest prices on the schedule contract. The IG said data from both the transactional data reporting (TDR) and the commercial sales practices approaches fell well short of their goals. The IG recommended canceling the TDR pilot altogether. Auditors also told GSA to advise customer agencies to conduct their own price determination analyses. GSA disagreed with three of the four IG recommendations, saying they have confidence in TDR and they believe contracting officers are receiving fair and reasonable pricing information.
  • Agencies have received some key Freedom of Information Act deadlines for the next year. The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy said agencies should submit their Fiscal 2022 Annual FOIA Reports by November 14. And by March 1, 2023, agencies are required to post the annual FOIA report on their websites. The annual reports shed light on how agencies are processing records requests and using FOIA exemptions. They also provide data on agency backlogs of FOIA requests and appeals.
  • The Defense Department IG is urging the military services and defense agencies to report all insider threat incidents to the DoD Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center. An insider is defined as someone the DoD has, or once had, granted eligibility for access to classified information. The IG’s office reviewed 215 incidents and found that 85 were not reported properly. And even some of those that were reported were not done in a timely manner, taking as long as two years.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is delaying bids indefinitely under its First Source 3 small business contract. In a new notice on Sam.gov, DHS said that proposals are no longer due October 3, and instead it will establish a new deadline in a future amendment. Small companies that already submitted their bids can resubmit their proposals by the later due date. This is the fourth extension of the proposal due date since the end of August. DHS did not offer any reason for another delay, but still plans to make awards in December.
  • Grant making agencies have a new marketplace to find and buy modern services. The Department of Health and Human Services launched the Grants Quality Service Management Office (QSMO) with five federal shared service options. Agencies can choose from electronic grants management, automatic payment services, cost allocation services and full support services from pre-award to post award. This is the third QSMO since the Office of Management and Budget laid out its plan to reinvigorate shared services in 2019. Financial management and cybersecurity are the other two.
  • A stopgap spending bill has averted a government shutdown until mid-December. President Joe Biden signed a continuing resolution Friday to fund the federal government at current levels through December 16. That gives Congress another 10 weeks to work out a comprehensive spending deal for the rest of fiscal 2023. The bill also reauthorizes the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee agreements for another five years, preventing 3,500 agency employees from being furloughed. The CR gives FEMA nearly $19 billion in additional spending to respond to current and future disasters. (Federal News Network)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has big plans for a new cyber defense service. CISA’s Protective Domain Name System service will help protect federal agencies from phishing and other cyber incidents by blocking malicious websites used by hackers. The service extends those protections beyond on-premise networks to mobile devices and cloud-based applications as well. CISA is also looking at extending the service beyond the federal government. “We would be very interested and very happy to offer this service and the same level of protection that we now offer to federal agencies to other levels of U.S. governments and just beyond government, any interested party,” CISA’s Branko Bokan said. (Federal News Network)
  • Some feds are unhappy, as 12.2% of federal survey respondents had very high intentions of quitting their jobs last year. A report from the Merit Systems Protection Board considered how respect, job development, and fair pay impacted the likelihood of feds leaving their jobs. MSPB found that for federal employees, the need for growth and respect generally played a larger role than pay. If agencies are concerned about retaining talent, MSPB said to consider looking at training and development needs, and how respectfully the agency’s office culture treats employees.
  • Efforts to improve the air filtration at federal buildings amid the COVID-19 pandemic are sometimes falling short. The General Services Administration’s inspector general found the Public Buildings Service cannot install the recommended air filters at some GSA-owned facilities because they’re not compatible with aging HVAC systems. The IG office found PBS also is not consistently inspecting GSA-leased space to ensure air filtration systems are meeting lease requirements. In a review of 33 GSA-owned and leased properties, the IG found the agency is using air filters in some buildings that are less effective at capturing airborne viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

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