GAO: New TSA screening technology is discriminating at airports

In today's Federal Newscast: It looks like the TSA has a screening machine that discriminates. The hiring surge at the Internal Revenue Service continues. And t...

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  • The Transportation Security Administration has new advanced imaging technology that can get passengers through security lines much faster, but it also causes inadvertent discrimination. A report from the Government Accountability Office concluded that people who are transgender, wear religious headwear, or have disabilities get more frequent referrals for additional screening with the imaging system. TSA screens over 1.5 million airline passengers a day. GAO wants the agency to track the extent to which its passenger screenings comply with non-discrimination policies, and make sure passengers know how the discrimination complaint procedures work.
  • Over 170 agencies now have a two-step login process to access employees’ payroll. The National Finance Center launched a multi-factor authentication system for its payroll website. The agency aims to enhance security for the personal information of more than 600,000 federal employees that it services. With the update, NFC becomes one of many agencies taking steps to comply with the White House’s cybersecurity and zero trust standards. But there is still a long way to go to reach full compliance — just 13 agencies have fully adopted multifactor authentication across all of their enterprises. (Federal payroll website for over 170 agencies gets a cybersecurity update – Federal News Network)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the effects of toxic drinking water at a now-closed Army base. Toxic chemicals were present in the drinking water at Fort Ord in California through the 1980s and 1990s. Hundreds of veterans who were stationed there claim this is the source of their cancers and illnesses. CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will “reevaluate health risks related to historical drinking water exposures at Fort Ord,” according to Director Patrick Breysse. (CDC to conduct health study at polluted former Army base – Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon is elevating the role of a key cybersecurity leader. Stacy Bostjanick is now chief of defense industrial base cybersecurity at the Defense Department. She was previously director of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. Bostjanick is still leading CMMC in her new role, but now she’s working to bring together different resources to help contractors with the forthcoming cyber requirements. “We are working collectively to bring all of the different capabilities in the department together that are going to assist small and medium companies and large as if they wanted to in getting CMMC certified,” Bostjanick said.
  • The IRS is keeping up its hiring surge ahead of next year’s tax-filing season. The IRS is looking to hire 700 new employees to staff up Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country. These hires will provide in-person tax help at more than 270 centers across the U.S. The increased staffing is part of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s plan to improve taxpayer services next filing season. Under this plan, the IRS expects to fully staff up Taxpayer Assistance Centers for the first time in a decade. The IRS also hired 4,000 customer service representatives this year.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is prioritizing claims for veterans with cancers associated with burn pits or other toxic exposures in accordance with the PACT Act, passed in August. VA is hiring at 56 regional offices, as well as at call centers, in anticipation of the ongoing surge of new claims. Since August, veterans have filed almost 123,000 PACT Act-related claims, of which 14,000 were cancer-related.
  • The Defense Department has a new chief software officer. Rob Vietmeyer took the job yesterday, becoming the second person to serve in the relatively-new position. Vietmeyer has worked in the DoD CIO’s office for more than a decade, helping to lead the office’s cloud-computing strategies. He replaces Jason Weiss, DoD’s first chief software officer, who returned to the private sector this past spring.
  • The Air Force is thinking about what the future of its Cloud One platform should look like. Five years after launching its CloudOne platform, the Air Force is asking industry what’s next. In a new request for information,  the service is seeking input on 21 questions, as well as other recommendations for how to evolve this common platform for cloud infrastructure and services. The questions include everything from what are metrics best to measure cost, schedule, performance and HR needs to migrate applications to automating repetitive workflows to creative pricing structures. The Air Force said it currently has 97 systems in production and another 145 in development. Responses to the RFI are due by Dec. 5.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency made it 10 straight years surpassing its small business contracting goal. DLA said in fiscal 2022, with a goal of 35.1%, it awarded 40% of all eligible contracts to small firms, totaling about $15 billion. DLA also said for the second straight year, at 3.5%, it beat its 3% goal to award contracts to HUBZone firms or Historically Underutilized Business Zone companies. DLA spends between $40 billion and $45 billion annually on contracts.
  • New legislation in the House Oversight and Reform Committee aims to strengthen presidential record-keeping requirements. The Presidential Records Certification Act, introduced this week, would require White House officials, including presidents, to certify compliance with record-keeping requirements every year while in office, as well as at the end of their term. The committee has been investigating former President Donald Trump’s removal of classified documents and other official records from the White House.
  • Some of the Census Bureau’s top career officials are on the move. A leading official in the 2020 census, Al Fontenot, is leaving his current job as associate director for decennial census programs. He’s now taking on a new role as executive senior adviser for decennial census programs. His deputy, Deborah Stempowski, will take a step up the ladder into Fontenot’s vacated position.
  • According to a survey from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, 87% of Thrift Savings Plan participants said they’re satisfied with the TSP. Satisfaction has remained relatively steady for the TSP since 2020. But the 2022 survey came before the TSP recordkeeper transition in June, meaning the score does not reflect perceptions following a rocky TSP update. The TSP board said it has now resolved most initial concerns with the transition. TSP participants’ satisfaction after the update will be reflected in the 2023 survey.

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