DHS IG finds Homeland Security not too secure on revoking credentials from former employees

In today's Federal Newscast: The DHS Inspector General finds Homeland Security not too secure on revoking former employees' credentials. A new bill calls for NO...

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  • The Department of Homeland Security has a certain amount of time to revoke the credentials of former employees and contractors once they separate from DHS. But an IG report indicates that requirement has been an abject failure. DHS did not revoke the Personal Identity Verification cards for more than 36,000 employees who left their jobs between 2018 and 2021. That’s according to a new audit from the DHS inspector general, which flagged security issues with the agency’s failure to revoke credentials from departing employees and contractors. DHS revoked PIV cards within the required 18-hour time frame from when an employee separates in only about half of the cases reviewed by the IG.
  • The Defense Department picked the two contractors to provide healthcare services under Tricare for the next decade. DoD awarded Humana Government Business and TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation a combined $138 billion contract to provide services to almost 10 million beneficiaries. TriWest will replace HealthNet Federal Services, which held the contract since 2017. The next generation of TRICARE Managed Care Support Contracts will go into effect in 2024. The big change with the T-5 contracts is six states will move from the east region to the west region. These include Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. The change will impact about 1.5 million beneficiaries.
  • The Internal Revenue Service ends the year with a record-breaking reduction in its tax-return backlog, but challenges remain. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the IRS will still have to deal with a pandemic-era backlog of unprocessed tax returns through next year’s filing season. But an IRS spokesperson said TIGTA’s data doesn’t reflect the agency’s latest progress and that the agency processed more tax returns in the past 12 months than in any 12-month period in its history. The spokesman said the IRS — since the start of fiscal 2022 — hired 15,000 employees to deal with the backlog. (IRS ends year with record-breaking reduction in tax return backlog, but challenges remain – Federal News Network)
  • The IRS is under new scrutiny after failing to perform the mandatory inspection of Donald Trump’s returns. Congress recently pressed the IRS for that information. Since 1977, the tax agency has operated under a policy that individual returns for the president and vice president are subject to mandatory review. The congressional report found that the IRS lacked staffing and availability to examine the former president’s taxes. (IRS mandatory presidential audit policy goes under spotlight – Federal News Network)
  • Congress wants agencies to take action on improving the federal hiring process. The $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill includes a deadline for the Office of Personnel Management. If the bill is enacted, OPM, along with the Office of Management and Budget, would have 120 days to make a plan for speeding up the government’s time-to-hire. Congress pointed to concerns around how long it takes to hire qualified feds, as well as the difficulty that applicants have with ultimately landing a federal job. (Congress sets a deadline for federal hiring reform in omnibus spending bill – Federal News Network)
  • A new approach to buying sustainable products demonstrates success. The Sustainable Technology Evaluation and Demonstration program (STED) is opening the door to faster buying of innovative products that are good for the environment. The General Services Administration and the Defense Department partnered on STED to streamline the acquisition process by connecting innovative manufacturers and their products with potential users at military installations. One example of this was at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, where they were able to buy a product that was cheaper, lighter, biobased, USDA-approved and made in the USA with renewable and recyclable materials.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would break away from the Commerce Department and become an independent agency under a new House bill. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, introduced a draft bill to give NOAA formal statutory authority and authorize its mission legislatively. President Richard Nixon created NOAA in 1970 by executive order. Among the requirements in the NOAA Organic Act are for NOAA to submit to Congress a reorganization plan and remove from NOAA the Office of Commercial Space and keep it in the Commerce Department.
  • Small businesses trying to comply with Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification will get help from the Defense Department in 2023.  In the omnibus spending bill, DoD is slated to get $6 million for CMMC compliance for cybersecurity in manufacturing. Congress also allocated another $20 million to increase small business and academia compliance with CMMC. Plans for third-party certification of cyber maturity met with complaints from contractors that the system was too complicated. DoD will issue a proposed rule for the program early next year. (Money flows for technology, cybersecurity in new Defense Department budget – Federal News Network)
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) will be the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee next year. He beat out Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) for the ranking-member position in a vote of 133 to 75. Raskin will work alongside the incoming chairman of the committee,  Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.). Raskin will succeed outgoing chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) as the top Democrat. The Oversight and Reform Committee is tasked with investigating waste, fraud and abuse in government spending.
  • A new House Democrat is set to pick up the cybersecurity mantle in the next Congress. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.)  has been announced as the new co-chairwoman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. She will replace the retiring Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who co-founded the caucus in 2008 along with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). Langevin has been a leading voice on cybersecurity issues in Congress. He was a leader on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, leading  on a number of major initiatives, including the creation of the White House Office of the National Cyber Director.
  • Franklin Parker is reprising his role as assistant Secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs. The Senate voted 70-21 on Thursday to confirm Parker’s nomination. He held the same position during the Obama administration and was nominated in January to once again fill the post. Most recently, he worked as a senior counsel in intelligence solutions at BAE Systems. Parker also worked as chief counsel at the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The manpower and reserve affairs office oversees development of programs and policies related to military personnel.
  • Federal guidance on the ethical use of artificial intelligence is still nowhere to be found, two years since Congress mandated it. The AI in Government Act passed in December 2020 and requires the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidance on how agencies can adopt AI tools while protecting civil liberties and avoiding bias. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is calling on OMB to work with the General Services Administration and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to issue the guidance as soon as possible.


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