Lawmakers push for a waiver extension of student loan debt relief for government employees

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Lawmakers urged the Education Department to extend an approaching deadline for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Nearly 100 members of both the House and Senate call on the department to push back the expiration of its waiver program. The limited-time waiver aims to make it easier for more public servants to receive student debt relief....

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  • Lawmakers urged the Education Department to extend an approaching deadline for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Nearly 100 members of both the House and Senate call on the department to push back the expiration of its waiver program. The limited-time waiver aims to make it easier for more public servants to receive student debt relief. The PSLF program intends to provide debt relief to those who serve 10 years in federal service. The lawmakers ask the Education Department to extend the deadline to July 2023, coinciding with the launch of new PSLF regulations. Currently, the temporary waiver is set to expire on October 31.
  • A discrimination case at NASA has taken a step forward in the legal process. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  granted class certification to a group of federal employees who are suing NASA for racial discrimination. The employees said an agency evaluation system, created reports that were biased against Black and Asian American workers. Those NASA employees received significantly lower performance ratings, on average, than their white counterparts, across all of the agency’s centers. NASA has until November 10 to appeal EEOC’s decision.
  • The Office of Management and Budget is doubling down on the White House’s goal of awarding at least 12% of all prime federal contracts to small disadvantaged businesses or SDBs. OMB released a new memo instructing agencies to work with the Small Business Administration to establish their fiscal 2023 SDB contracting goals. OMB said SBA and agencies must ensure the government as a whole meets the 12% goal set out by the President last December. OMB said it will continue to work with SBA and others to take additional steps for building the diversity and resilience of the federal supplier base with a focus on lowering barriers to entry.
  • The Justice Department is charging five current and former IRS employees for defrauding COVID-19 relief programs. DOJ said the defendants obtained over a million dollars through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. Prosecutors said the money went for cars, luxury goods and personal travel. The defendants face wire fraud charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
  • The Army has a new agreement with Google to deliver email and other collaboration tools to soldiers. The Army’s calling it “Army Google Workspace.” It will be available to about 250,000 servicemembers in the coming weeks. The Google solution is meant to bridge the gap between the DoD’s legacy Enterprise Email service and the Army’s transition to Microsoft 365. The Army opted against buying full Microsoft licenses for all of its servicemembers, mainly for cost reasons.
  • The State Department has launched a fresh talent outreach for its Diplomatic Security Service. It has started accepting applications for the William D. Clarke, Senior Diplomat Security fellowships. They’re for students aiming for a master’s degree and who hope to become foreign service special agents. Once accepted, fellows get $42,000 annually to help with room and board, tuition and books. And once they complete the program and receive an appointment, they will owe the State Department five years of service.
  • The Department of Homeland Security continues to churn out a steady diet of new cyber regulations. The Coast Guard is preparing to release new cyber hygiene regulations for the maritime sector. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the new requirements are the latest in a string of cyber rules DHS has been developing. The Transportation Security Administration has already issued cybersecurity directives for the pipeline industry, the aviation sector, and the freight and rail sectors, respectively. And the Cybersecurty and Infrastructure Security Agency is developing new cyber incident reporting rules for all critical infrastructure sectors.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is getting a new counter-terrorism czar. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Tuesday that Nicholas Rasmussen will serve as DHS’s counterterrorism coordinator. Rasmussen is currently a fellow at the McCain Institute. He has previously served in several counter-terrorism roles at the White House and in the intelligence community, including as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
  • U.S. Central Command has opened the door to more innovation by filling a brand new technology position. Schuyler Moore is the U.S. Central Command’s first-ever chief technology officer. She is charged with leading innovation efforts across the organization’s headquarters, components and subordinate units. Moore has worked for the Defense Department in assorted roles since 2019, when she was the director of science and technology for the Defense Innovation Board. Over the last year, she worked as a senior defense and foreign policy adviser in the House of Representatives, and was chief strategy officer for the Navy’s Task Force 59, which focuses on unmanned and AI integration efforts.
  • An AI ‘Bill of Rights’ from the White House is setting a higher bar for agencies to weed out bias. The AI Bill of Rights from the Office of Science and Technology Policy outlines what more than a dozen agencies will do to ensure AI tools deployed in-and-out of government align with privacy rights and civil liberties. That includes new federal procurement policy and guidance to ensure agencies purchase and implement AI and automation tools that are transparent and free of bias. Deputy OSTP Director Alondra Nelson said increasingly common automation tools need greater rules of the road. “They can empower us, they can help us solve some of our greatest challenges, but too often the use of these technologies results in just the opposite,” Nelson said. (Federal News Network)
  • L3-Harris has made a  big play to strengthen its network and communications offerings for the Defense Department. The Florida-based company is buying Viasat’s tactical data links or TDL product line for nearly $2 billion. TDL network is integrated on military aircraft, ground vehicles, surface vessels and operating bases, and it enables warfighters across multiple domains to securely share voice and data communications. L3-Harris said tactical data links will provide more resilient communication and networking capabilities to a larger user base. Viasat’s TDL product line earned more than $400 million in revenue last year.
  • The Small Business Administration needs to catch up on its paperwork for the 8(a) Business Development Program. The Government Accounting Office found SBA failed to make annual reports to Congress about the program since 2016. The agency sent the 2016 and 2017 reports in 2020, while it still hasn’t sent reports for the other three years. The 8(a) program helps socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. SBA changed the financial thresholds for companies to qualify for the 8(a) program in 2020, but didn’t conduct a study before making the changes. GAO wants SBA to develop a plan to address report delays, and evaluate the effects of the changes to the 8(a) program’s thresholds

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