Space Force has a new leader

In today's Federal Newscast: Take me to your leader; the Space Force has a new one. A union for federal employees suggests some agencies might be sort of suppre...

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  • The newest military service has a new boss. Gen. Chance Saltzman took the reins of the Space Force in a change-of-responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Andrews yesterday. He took over for Gen. John Raymond, who’s been the Chief of Space Operations since the Space Force became a separate military service three years ago. Until yesterday, Saltzman served as the deputy chief of space operations for cyber and nuclear missions.
  • Some federal managers are denying employees’ leave requests for time off to vote, according to the American Federation of Government Employees. The Office of Personnel Management said agencies can grant employees up to four hours of administrative leave to vote ahead-of or on election day. Agencies can also offer an additional four hours of leave per year for federal employees to work at the polls. AFGE is now calling on agency managers to grant the requested time off to feds, as election day approaches.
  • Agencies should be on the lookout for new internship guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. Director Kiran Ahuja said the agency will soon release an outline on making all federal internships paid positions. Paying interns will support other OPM priorities too, such as its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility agenda, according to Ahuja. It’s one of several OPM initiatives to boost early-career hiring in the federal workforce. In another early-career hiring effort, the two-year Presidential Management Fellowship program broke a record this year, with over 10,000 applications.
  • DoD’s zero trust strategy will soon be made public. Defense Department Chief Information Officer John Sherman signed out the initial version of the military’s zero trust strategy on October 27. The Pentagon is expected to release it publicly in the next two weeks. Randy Resnick, the director of DoD’s zero trust portfolio management, said the strategy details the five-year timeline for the services and defense agencies to reach the target zero trust architecture. In addition to the strategy, DoD will begin pilots with four commercial cloud vendors who are part of the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program to test out their zero trust cybersecurity services.
  • The Justice Department Office of Inspector General found that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and Justice Management Division failed to adequately oversee a contractor’s performance. In 2020, NTT Data was awarded a $35 million contract to design, implement and support a new electronic case management system for the EOIR. In the report, the IG found that the pricing analysis did not consider the entire project lifecycle and that NTT was paid before it rendered all agreed-to services.
  • The head of an office charged with overseeing government secrecy policies is stepping down next year. Mark Bradley will retire as director of the Information Security Oversight Office next June. Bradley has served in that position since 2016. The office advises the president on governmentwide classification policies. Bradley pushed to modernize federal declassification systems in the face of what he called a tsunami of digitally created classified records. The Biden administration earlier this year launched a White House-led review of government classification policies.
  • Veteran-owned small businesses are getting another year to get certified under a new Small Business Administration program. SBA is granting a one-year extension to firms currently verified by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vets First Verification Program as of January 1, 2023. In 2020, Congress mandated that VA transfer the certification program to SBA on January 1. The one-year extension for existing firms will help ensure a smooth transition for companies already doing business with the government. Veteran-owned small companies competing for set-aside contracts will need to be certified by SBA starting January 1, 2024, or, at least by that date, have submitted an application to SBA.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Advisory Council is undergoing some changes. The group welcomed 16 new members and three returning members this week. Jeff Hansen, director of community safety for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was appointed chairman. He’s the first tribal representative to lead the National Advisory Council. The group is also expanding from 35 to 40 members, including new positions focused on climate change. The council advises FEMA on all aspects of emergency management.
  • AmeriCorps’ return on investment for programs in Texas show that they can pay for themselves. A study on federally funded education-focused programs like Breakthrough Central Texas return more than $54 in value for every dollar spent. AmeriCorps members at the Breakthrough program serve as caseworkers and mentors providing support for students. Around the country, AmeriCorps reports that 12,000 schools leverage national service programs to assist them. They also report having about 65,000 members and volunteers.
  • When you want to launch a satellite, you have to submit an application to the Federal Communications Commission for licensing, so they can assess the environmental impact. That is, unless you want to launch a whole constellation of satellites — then you get exempted from review. The Government Accountability Office reported the FCC has not sufficiently documented its decision to exclude large constellations of satellites from licensing. The GAO wants the FCC to establish a timeframe and a process for reviewing its categorical exclusions.

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