U.S. Army cements plans for an integrated zero trust program

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The Army is creating a new integrated program office to bring all of its zero trust pursuits under one roof. Zero trust is a cybersecurity approach that continuously validates access at every stage of a digital interaction. Officials say the goal is to make sure there’s a single organization to keep tabs on how the Army...

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

  • The Army is creating a new integrated program office to bring all of its zero trust pursuits under one roof. Zero trust is a cybersecurity approach that continuously validates access at every stage of a digital interaction. Officials say the goal is to make sure there’s a single organization to keep tabs on how the Army is implementing the 90 different capabilities in DoD’s zero trust reference architecture. The new office will also help make sure the Army has the right funding in each of the programs that are contributing to its zero trust implementation.
  • A long-term vacancy at the Office of Management and Budget will remain unfilled for longer than expected. President Joe Biden is withdrawing his nomination of former Department of Housing and Urban Development Chief of Staff Laurel Blatchford to serve as OMB controller. The position sets financial management policy for the entire federal government and has been vacant for more than five years. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced Blatchford’s nomination last December, but it failed to receive a Senate floor vote.
  • The Army can hire internally pretty well for software developers and data engineers, but it still relies heavily on the private sector for one job title in particular. Data scientists in the Army still come largely from industry partners. But that may not be the case for the long-term. “What I do see happening over the course of several years is that scale will end up balancing itself out to some degree,” said Army Forces Command Chief Data Officer Jock Padgett. Padgett added that the Army is looking to do more internal upskilling, training and recruiting in the near future for data scientists, while also working to maintain current industry partnerships.
  • The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency said it has met the 2% goal for hiring people with targeted disabilities for two years in a row. The objective is set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. DCSA said it is already on track to meet or exceed the goal again for fiscal 2023. Targeted disabilities include blindness, deafness, significant mobility impairments and other disabilities identified by the EEOC for special emphasis in federal recruiting and hiring.
  • Homeland Security agencies are moving forward with the use of facial recognition to verify traveler identity. The Transportation Security Administration is eyeing the expansion of its facial recognition pilot program. TSA is currently testing out a Customs and Border Protection-run facial recognition database at airports in Atlanta and Detroit. The agency is currently considering expanding that system to more locations. It is currently limited to TSA PreCheck and GlobalEntry passengers who opt-in. But TSA and CBP want to expand the use of facial recognition and other technologies to advance what the agencies call a “touchless curb-to-gate experience” at airports. (Federal News Network)
  • A federal judge rules on one of the last lawsuits over the Postal Service’s handling of 2020 election mail.  A federal judge last week ruled USPS policy changes, including a decision by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to limit late and extra truck trips between mail processing plants and post offices, were the “primary factor” that reduced mail service ahead of the 2020 election. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia finds USPS executives were aware of the connection between a decrease in service performance and efforts to reduce late and extra trips nationwide. USPS data showed that, on average, it delivered ballots to election boards in 1.6 days. A recent USPS inspector general report said the agency is generally ready for its election workload this November. (Federal News Network)
  • The American Federation of Government Employees has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the National Park Service. The union said NPS violated federal labor law by not stopping a manager from trying to decertify the Blue Ridge Parkway local union. Typically, the Federal Labor Relations Authority said decertification cannot happen within a year of forming a new chapter, but this particular situation is unprecedented. The creation of the union chapter in this case comes from a merger of two former local unions, rather than coming from a new chapter.
  • Continued challenges around accessibility prompts a third letter from concerned Senators. The General Services Administration is the latest agency to feel the pressure from two powerful Senate committees around Section 508. The Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan seeking data and details about the agency’s efforts to monitor federal accessibility compliance. The Committee on Aging sent similar but more directed letters to the departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs earlier this summer. GSA has until November 14 to respond.
  • Small business vendors bidding on Phase 2 of the Homeland Security Department’s IT products contract have a new due date. DHS said companies who made it to the second round of bidding for the FirstSource III contract must get their best and final offers in by November 7. Contractors can also submit questions about Phase 2 to DHS by October 19. DHS has now delayed final bids for phase 2 of FirstSource III five times since August. The third version of FirstSource has a $10 billion ceiling over 10 years for assorted IT products and related services.
  • After receiving community feedback, the Environmental Protection Agency has added more information about U.S. territories to its environmental justice mapping tool known as EJScreen. The updated tool now includes environmental, demographic and index data for U.S. territories like Guam and American Samoa. The tool will also feature a new dataset which will provide perspectives on community vulnerability based on factors like low-income and unemployment . The EPA said that the enhancements will enable EJScreen users to better identify susceptible populations facing “higher pollution burdens.”
  • With a record of taking longer than expected to dispose of unneeded government property, a report from the Government Accountability Office said GSA needs to incorporate lessons learned from past sales to make the process more efficient. A 2016 law established a three-round process for disposing of government real property. But the 10 properties marked for sale in 2019 took almost two years to sell. Proceeds from the first round are used to fund the next round of preparing the buildings for sale. The lack of timely sales proceeds from the first round limited the scope of the second round.
  • The Biden administration is seeking industry feedback on technologies to eliminate the carbon footprint of federal buildings. The General Services Administration and Energy Department have issued a request for information looking at how technology can make federal buildings more energy-efficient, reduce emissions, and support the charging of electric vehicle fleets. The administration is looking to reach net-zero carbon emissions across all federal operations by 2050. To support that goal, the Inflation Reduction Act allocated more than $3 billion dollars in low-carbon materials for federal construction projects.

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