IG slams NASA’s software asset management, calling it ‘basic’

In today's Federal Newscast: The Inspector General criticizes NASA's software asset management, calling it 'basic.' Some Coasties are treading water, trying to ...

  • The Coast Guard is having trouble finding enough affordable housing for its service members. In this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, Congress ordered a study to find out how bad the problem is and how to fix it. The study will address cost, accessibility and whether the Basic Allowance for Housing provides enough to cover rental fees. The housing scarcity resulted from tropical storms damaging and destroying some housing, while rising prices often make existing homes too expensive.
  • The Navy’s $700 million sole-source award for cloud services is facing a protest. The General Services Administration and the Navy may have violated federal contracting competition regulations in creating a blanket purchase agreement for the service to buy cloud services from Amazon Web Services. That is the claim by Oracle and Mythics in their complaint to the Government Accountability Office. The two companies filed a protest after GSA, on behalf of the Navy, awarded a $724 million task order to AWS in December. The five-year enterprise software license contract would give the Navy access to AWS’s commercial cloud environment as well as access to professional services, training and certification courses. GAO has until April 19 to decide the case.
  • NASA is promising to take eight steps to improve how it manages and tracks its software. These assurances come after a scathing report from the space agency’s inspector general that called NASA’s current approach to software asset management “basic.” Among the changes NASA is undertaking is completing a software asset management pilot by October and revising policies and procedures for managing software by December. Auditors found that NASA had spent at least $15 million dollars over the last five years on unused licenses and lacked centralized management and inventory visibility for its software products.
  • The federal government is looking at the shakeup among tech companies as an opportunity to bring IT talent into public service. The Office of Personnel Management is co-leading a virtual job fair on January 18 focused on recruiting laid-off tech workers and those seeking a career change. More than 50 federal, state and local government agencies are participating in the job fair, and at least 1,100 individuals have registered. Kyleigh Russ, a senior adviser at OPM, said agencies have seen about 2,400 federal IT positions go unfilled over the past three years. “That’s leaving a critical shortage across government,” Russ said. (OPM pitches federal IT as new career path for workers hit by big tech layoffs – Federal News Network)
  • The Treasury Department is suspending new investments for several federal retirement funds. That includes the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, as well as the retirement fund for Postal workers. Reinvestments in the Thrift Savings Plan’s G Fund will also be suspended. The agency said it will take these “extraordinary measures” after projecting the U.S. will reach its debt limit this Thursday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said these measures would likely continue to fund government obligations through early June. New investments in all federal retirement funds will start up again once Congress can resolve the impasse. (Yellen tells Congress US expected to hit debt limit Thursday – Federal News Network)
  • The Agriculture Department has largely recovered from mass staff attrition. After relocating two major research facilities in 2019, USDA is now back to normal staffing levels at the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. But having to rebuild the workforce meant that many of the new employees at those facilities are less experienced. On top of that, the workforce is now much less racially diverse. The Government Accountability Office recommends that for future potential facility relocations, USDA should better consider how a large-scale move will affect employee performance and engagement.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is looking to speed up hiring in 2023. The agency brought in more than 500 new hires over the past year, including more than 200 within the past three months. But CISA Director Jen Easterly sais hiring still takes too long. The agency’s human capital and security teams plan to introduce changes to help speed up the process this year. And Easterly said CISA will also expand the use of a new flexible hiring program called the Cyber Talent Management System.
  • The General Services Administration is looking for ideas on how to make federal buildings more accessible. GSA is calling on architecture and design students to make federal buildings more inclusive for individuals with disabilities as part of its “Access for All” challenge on Challenge.gov. GSA oversees an inventory of more than 8,800 facilities and more than 370 million sq. ft. of workspace for the federal workforce. Challenge.gov is hosting a virtual Q&A this Wednesday for those interested in participating.
  • The Air Force has more work to do on its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). The program is the Air Force’s part of an integrated communication system known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The Government Accountability Office reports the Air Force needs to acquire more technology and get a clearer idea of cost and affordability. GAO said the Air Force made progress in clarifying the ABMS mission, but it still needs to update plans related to data connectivity and cloud command and control. Congress directed GAO to review progress in the ABMS program.

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