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Agencies should get ready to gather employee data on telework. The Office of Personnel Management will soon collect information from agencies on their telework policies. They will have to share data on how many employees are teleworking, how their telework program operates and any outcomes of implementing it. OPM has had this annual data call for over a decade. The information from agencies, as well as feedback from other stakeholders will go into an OPM report to Congress. Agencies’ responses are due by February 10 and will cover fiscal year 2022.
We now have a bit more certainty on who is going to be leading the Defense Department’s digital modernization efforts. Lily Zeleke is now the deputy DoD chief information officer for information enterprise. Zeleke has been serving in the same role as an acting official for several months, but gained the formal title last week.
The Office of Personnel Management is offering an updated version of its dismissal-and-closure procedures ahead of snowy weather this season. Federal employees can find out if D.C. offices are closed for snow by checking OPM.gov. Employees can also download the OPM Alert mobile app to immediately see any updates on closures in the D.C. area. Feds who work outside the beltway should look for announcements from their own agency for updates. These procedures from OPM also cover other types of emergencies and natural disasters.
The Transportation Security Administration has received the go-ahead to begin modernizing its communications network, after surviving two protests over its task-order award to AT&T under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle. The Government Accountability Office rejected protests by Verizon and Lumen Technologies over TSA’s $294 million award. GAO ruled that TSA did not err in its evaluation of personnel and non-price evaluation factors. TSA made the award to AT&T in August for data, network and voice services. Now that the TSA task order is in place, the Homeland Security Department and its components still have four more EIS awards to make.
An expanded partnership between the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services is aiming to put more heat on federal health care providers trying to commit fraud. DoJ’s Antitrust Division and the HHS Office of the Inspector General signed a memorandum of understanding that will increase information sharing and let the agencies make referrals to each other about potentially illegal activity. HHS and DoJ will also coordinate on policies and training for auditors and investigators. In November, DoJ and the HHS OIG worked together to charge 36 people with $1.2 billion in alleged healthcare fraud in 2022.
The Defense Department has launched a new website connecting it to public and private organizations that can deliver new technology. A press release on Friday said the Innovation Pathways website will serve as a gateway for universities, students, small businesses and other organizations to connect with programs involved in research and development. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering launched the site to provide a user-friendly platform for those organizations that want to work with the DoD on innovation projects. It includes a guided tour to learn how to use the site.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is on a hiring spree for IT talent and is recruiting private-sector tech employees to join its ranks. VA’s Office of Information Technology is recruiting laid-off tech workers to fill about 1,000 vacancies. VA Chief Information Officer Kurt DelBene said the VA is allowing remote work and trying to hire some of the more than 100,000 tech workers who were laid off this year. “It’s happening at the same time that we’re really trying, and being successful in doing a transformation of IT at the VA,” DelBene said. The VA is also getting close to having final approval from the Office of Personnel Management for a Special Salary Rate for federal IT hires. (VA expects new pay model for federal IT workforce will help it fill 1.000 positions – Federal News Network)
The commercial satellite market is growing, and so is federal agency spending on satellite imagery. NASA spent the most on commercial satellite imagery out of 10 civilian agencies reviewed by the Government Accountability Office. The space agency reported spending nearly $76 million across five blanket purchase agreements for commercial imagery since 2018. Eight agencies reported that they use imagery acquired by the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. But exactly how much military and intelligence agencies spend on such services is classified.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is expanding the Next Generation Network Priority Services program, which provides first responders with front-of-the-line service for voice, data and video communications during emergencies and disasters. The program is now developing priority-service capabilities for multimedia applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and Teams. It’s also delving into audio and video streaming, including YouTube and Spotify. And Department of Homeland Security is looking to expand priority service to web applications like email as well.
A senior official leading workforce issues at the State Department is stepping down. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon is leaving the agency. During his tenure, McKeon helped the agency recover from a Trump administration hiring freeze and implemented lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.