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The chances of a government shutdown are decreasing by the day. Senate and House appropriations committee leaders agreed last night to a top-level budget framework for fiscal 2023. This clears the way for an omnibus bill to fund agencies for the entire year. At the same time, the House will introduce a one-week continuing resolution to give lawmakers more time to iron out the omnibus bill. The CR would keep the government open through December 23. The current CR expires on Friday.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is sharing some details on a major contract award. DIA awarded a big contract last month for running the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications Network (JWICS). The internal network is used by agencies to share top-secret information. DIA declined to identify the winning vendor, and said the value of the contract is classified. But officials said the contract will help kickstart a major initiative to modernize the three-decade old JWICS system. (DIA makes ‘significant’ award for top-secret IT network – Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is ready to step back from a multibillion dollar logistics management system that has been under fire from Congress and independent watchdogs for over a year. VA said it will scale back its funding for the $2.6 billion Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support system, and pursue its own contract instead. VA said its supply chain modernization contract will likely last a decade, but only after extensive consultation with industry and end-users. (VA pivoting away from $2.6 billion logistics system that failed to meet users needs – Federal News Network)
The Defense Department is bracing for a host of new cybersecurity requirements from Capitol Hill. With a Senate vote on the annual defense authorization bill likely this week, the Pentagon would receive dozens of new cyber authorities, be required to issue new reports and see its authorization for cyber activities increase significantly. Among the cyber provisions in the NDAA is one that would require DoD to establish a program executive office to manage the implementation and integration of the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture. Another would require DoD to develop a five-year roadmap-and-implementation plan for rapidly adopting artificial intelligence applications to the warfighter cyber missions.
Help is on the way for the Department of Homeland Security’s customer-experience challenges. The first group under the “technologist hiring initiative” is about ready to take on the challenge of accelerating DHS’ drive to improve customer experience. DHS is in the final stages of evaluating almost 1,000 applicants and plans to make job offers before the end of 2022. DHS hopes to have these 50 to 100 new hires in place in January at headquarters and within the component agencies. The hiring initiative is part of several ongoing efforts across DHS to meet the goals President Joe Biden’s now year-old customer experience executive order. (DHS on cusp of hiring as many as 100 CX experts – Federal News Network)
Space Force guardians got a chance to hone their skills in Space Domain Awareness and support NASA’s Artemis mission over the past month. Primary to the Space Force mission, Space Domain Awareness involves identifying and tracking objects in space. Working from Delta 2 at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, the guardians used sensors and satellites to execute tracking tactics and techniques between the Earth and the moon, while following Artemis on its 25-day mission.
Agencies are out with new advice for securing fifth-generation wireless networks. The National Security Agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and others teamed up for an assessment of potential threats to 5G network slicing. The process involves mobile service providers dividing up their networks into different slices to serve specific customers and use cases. The guidance will help the Defense Department and other organizations use secure slicing across private, hybrid and public networks.
The government’s leader for human capital has its own new human capital leader. Carmen Garcia is now the permanent Chief Human Capital Officer at the Office of Personnel Management. Garcia previously served in the position in an acting capacity. She also previously worked as OPM’s Deputy CHCO, as well as deputy director of human resources. One of her recent projects has been working on improving internal skills-based hiring strategies. She also leads internal OPM efforts on improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
Now just over a year in the making, the President’s Management Agenda has made headway on its three key priorities. That includes about 20 agencies that reached milestones and planned new activities around the first PMA priority: strengthening and empowering the federal workforce. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget said regardless of progress, there will be places where the metrics on PMA goals fall short. OMB said that’s okay, as it plans to be transparent and hold itself accountable for progress on the PMA.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new infrastructure plan in the works to expand its network of health care facilities. The VA is developing a plan to build new health care facilities and improve the infrastructure of its existing ones. The agency said it needs infrastructure upgrades to handle an influx of veterans under the PACT Act and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Undersecretary for Health Shereef Elnahal said the agency expects to submit a new infrastructure plan to lawmakers in the first half of the new year, but first needs Congress to pass a comprehensive spending deal for the rest of fiscal 2023. “We can’t do any of that without the funding, and it remains absolutely critical that we get infrastructure funding in this next budget,” Elnahal said. (VA ‘Infrastructure 2.0’ plan in the works to expand network of health care facilities – Federal News Network)
The State Department is planning to create a new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy to address future infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics. The new bureau will bring together the functions of three existing offices: the Office of International Health and Biodefense, the Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security, and the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the department’s current global AIDS coordinator will serve as the first head of the new bureau.
Nineteen people fell overboard while returning to the hospital ship USNS Comfort on Monday, during heavy swell conditions near Haiti. Twelve military personnel and seven civilians were returning from treating patients on the island when the accident occurred. All 19 were pulled back onto the small boat, which was then lifted by a crane onto the ship. A Navy spokesman said the Comfort will suspend medical services until the water surrounding Haiti is calm enough for safe transport. The large swell is expected to last though the week. (U.S. Navy hosptial suspends care in Haiti after 19 overboard – Federal News Network)