Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gets high marks for its cybersecurity program

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission received high marks for its cybersecurity program. The latest audit of FERC’s program, by the Department of Energy Inspector General’s office, found no issues with the agency’s cybersecurity protections. That is an improvement over last year’s report, when auditors pointed out multiple areas in need of improvement. The latest report made...

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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 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission received high marks for its cybersecurity program. The latest audit of FERC’s program, by the Department of Energy Inspector General’s office, found no issues with the agency’s cybersecurity protections. That is an improvement over last year’s report, when auditors pointed out multiple areas in need of improvement. The latest report made no such recommendations, finding FERC has a measured and mature program across several areas, including continuous monitoring and incident-response planning.
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants to make it a little easier for agencies to hire professionals in science, technology, engineering and math. Agencies can now hire term employees for STEM roles for up to 10 years. And they don’t need OPM’s approval to do it. Extending term positions may help agencies hire STEM workers who either don’t want to accept a permanent federal job, or who have specialized skills.
  • A surge in telehealth appointments early in the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased risk of fraud, according to agency watchdogs. The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee found that telehealth use increased 13-fold in 2020 and led to more than $6 billion in program spending. The committee found the surge led to a higher risk of providers billing for the same service twice or inappropriately billing at the most expensive levels of services.
  • Thrift Savings Plan funds made gains across the board in November. The biggest gainer, the I Fund, went up over 13%. Year-to-date, however, most TSP funds are still down. The only one that has made gains overall this year was the G Fund, which has gone up just under 3%. (Thrift Savings Plan funds all make gains in November – Federal News Network)
  • Protests of the CIO-SP4 GWAC are dismissed — for now. More than 100 vendors protesting the National Institutes of Health IT Acquisition and Assessment Center’s (NITAAC) CIO-SP4 contract have new life. The Government Accountability Office dismissed the protests of 117 companies after the agency said it will take corrective action in the coming weeks. NITAAC said it will reassess the self-scoring cut-off line and make a new determination on the highest rated offerors that proceed to phase 2. Vendors were notified in October if they did not score high enough to reach phase 2. That set off the rash of protests forcing NITAAC to relook at its evaluation processes. (NITAAC to take corrective action on CIO_SP4 after 119 protests – Federal News Network)
  • Six years in the making, agencies now have final guidance on how to improve acquisition planning and research with industry. The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council issued its final rule to implement a provision from the fiscal 2016 Defense authorization bill. The final rule encouraged agencies to engage in constructive discussions with industry and maximize their use of commercial products and services. The council said it received 11 comments on the proposed rule from January 2017 and made only minor changes. The final rule goes into effect on December 30.
  • The Defense Department wants to know how it’s going for military kids. The department launched “The Study of Adolescent Resilience,” a new survey of military dependent children between the ages of 11 and 17. The online survey takes about half an hour to complete and asks the kids questions about mental and physical health, as well as academic performance and career goals. The survey also pursues information about the relationship between military parents and their children. Participants who complete the survey can get a $10 Amazon gift card.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a months-long complaint with its union. The agency signed off on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the American Federation of Government Employees. The MOU came after the Federal Labor Relations Authority issued a complaint against EEOC in July. The complaint encompassed multiple unfair labor practice charges from AFGE, over a lack of union negotiations on the Commission’s return-to-office policy. The MOU outlined new provisions around office safety and workplace flexibilities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is looking for new ideas on how it can tap into technological innovation. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is asking his Advisory Committee for ideas on how DHS can strengthen its technology and innovation network. The advisory panel established a subcommittee to explore that issue. It is led by former special assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cordero and Danielle Gray, a former Justice Department and White House official. Their work will evaluate how DHS can increase innovative technology partnerships with the private sector.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is reviewing data showing a racial disparity in benefits claims decisions. A lawsuit filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in Connecticut claims that between 2001 and 2021, the VA was more likely to reject the disability compensation claims of black veterans compared to white veterans. VA Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters the agency is working on a study unpacking some of those racial disparities. He said VA will publish the results of its study once it concludes, but he said he did not yet have a timeline for the study’s public release. “The kind of data that we’ve been looking into is unacceptable, and it’s unacceptable to the president,” McDonough said.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency has a new plan to keep the F-35 joint strike fighters maintained and ready to fly. With the DLA distribution support system, suppliers can get more information in real time about the changing support and supply needs for the F-35 program. The F-35s have been plagued with problems for years, with readiness falling below standards, and challenges keeping up with maintenance.

 

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