IG: Climate change to add to Treasury Department’s workload as well

In today's Federal Newscast, you can add the treasury department to the list of agencies whose workload may significantly increase due to climate change.

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  • A new index in the 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey — or “FEVS” — measures how feds feel about their agencies’ diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility actions. According to the index, 69% of governmentwide respondents have positive perceptions of agencies’ DEIA practices. And small agencies had higher positive opinions, at 76 %. The Office of Personnel Management says it will use the new index as a baseline to assess and compare results with future iterations of the survey.
  • Human resources employees got some help from the Office of Personnel Management to prepare for certification assessments. Federal HR practitioners can use a new OPM checklist to figure out the trainings and experience they still need before taking the Delegated Examining — or DE — Certification Assessment. OPM also added some scenario questions to help HR workers better prepare for the test. An employee who fails the test has to wait 30 days before retaking it, and another six months for every attempt after that.
  • Of the five management challenges the Treasury Department faces, only the threat of climate change is new for 2023. Treasury’s inspector general said it added climate change to the list of four others from previous years. The IG said climate change is a new management challenge because of the role Treasury will play working with other agencies, foreign governments and international financial institutions on global action to address climate change-created economic and financial crises. The other management and performance challenges include cybersecurity, IT acquisition and program management, pandemic relief, and anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • The Biden administration is turning to private sector experts to help hold it accountable to ensure programs funded by the American Rescue Plan Act are equitable across the country. The General Services Administration awarded a multi-year contract to the American Institute for Research to determine whether ARP-funded efforts are working as intended. GSA’s Office of Evaluation Services and OMB’s evidence team then will share any lessons learned in order to make service delivery more inclusive. GSA did not say how much the contract was worth.
  • Federal agencies have some catching up to do to meet the Biden administration’s zero-emission vehicle goals. Agencies may need to purchase as many as 30,000 zero-emission vehicles per year to meet the Biden administration’s green government goals, according to the Government Accountability Office. Electric vehicles currently make up less than 1% of the federal fleet. An executive order signed last December directs agencies to buy only zero-emission light duty vehicles starting in 2027, and buy only zero emission vehicles across all categories by 2035. GSA officials tell GAO they are optimistic there will be electric vehicle options for all light-duty vehicle types within the next five years.
  • A new Pentagon audit raises concerns about pricing in the FedMall program. That’s the e-commerce system the Defense Logistics Agency runs for a wide variety of federal, state and local agencies. The DoD inspector general says poor internal controls allowed vendors to charge the government prices that were much higher than what they charged outside of FedMall. The IG says the prices the government would up paying were, in some cases, 533% higher than other purchasing options.
  • The Department Veterans Affairs’ first permanent chief data officer is moving on. VA Chief Data Officer Kshemendra Paul is leaving in November to become the Energy Department’s assistant inspector general for cybersecurity assessments and data analysis. Paul joined the VA in September 2019 to establish the CDO role at the agency. In an email to staff, he says the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration are maturing in their use of data governance and data analytics. VA released its first enterprise data strategy in January 2021.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is trying to establish a common security baseline for widely used cloud services. CISA released minimum security configurations for eight Microsoft 365 services last week. Agencies are encouraged to adopt the minimum standards as part of a pilot program. The 365 services include Microsoft Teams, Exchange Online and Azure Active Directory. CISA wants to ensure agencies are configuring these widely used products with a minimal level of security features. The agency is seeking feedback on the minimum standards through Nov. 24.
  • A technology industry group is backing several NDAA proposals, but opposing one major cybersecurity provision. The Alliance for Digital Innovation told lawmakers in a letter that it supports the inclusion of provisions that encourage more adoption of modern software practices, as well as acquisition reforms like the AGILE Procurement Act. But ADI also reiterated its opposition to a provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to Software Bills of Material. ADI and other tech groups argue the SBOM is not ready for prime time.


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