DoD officials took risks when authorizing commercial cloud services, IG says

In today's Federal Newscast: Did DoD officials take risks when authorizing commercial cloud services? OPM is offering Federal HR specialists a free web-training...

  • The Technology Modernization Fund has made three awards to advance agency cybersecurity efforts. The TMF is giving the Social Security Administration $23 million to implement multi-factor authentication across its internal systems. And the Treasury Department is bringing its classified intelligence network into a secure cloud environment with an $11.1 million award from the TMF. The fund is also handing $6.2 million to the U.S. Agency for Global Media to implement a zero-trust architecture on its network. USAGM is the fifth agency to get zero-trust funding from the TMF over the past two years.
  • The Office of Personnel Management faces a tight deadline to launch a health insurance marketplace for employees and retirees of the Postal Service. The Postal Service Health Benefits program will soon provide health insurance plans to eligible USPS employees, annuitants and their eligible family members. That is required under the Postal Service Reform Act, which was signed into law last year. But the legislation specifies requirements for postal-only health plans that do not apply to the Federal Employee Health Benefits program. The legislation requires all future postal retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B, in an effort to save USPS tens of billions of dollars over the coming years. OPM Chief Information Officer Guy Cavallo said that gives the agency plenty to do before a late 2024 open-enrolment period. “So they are totally different requirements than the current Federal Employee Health Benefits system,” Cavallo said.
  • Defense Department officials responsible for authorizing commercial cloud services took security risks by not properly reviewing the documentation, according to the DoD Inspector General. The IG's office found the authorizing authorities may have missed vulnerabilities and cybersecurity risks associated with operating their systems or storing their data in commercial cloud services. The IG wants the military departments to review their authorizations to operate for the five cloud systems the IG's office reviewed.
  • Federal HR specialists can get new training from the Office of Personnel Management. OPM is offering a free web-training opportunity in an effort to help HR specialists conduct structured resume reviews. Agencies often use such reviews for highly specialized or highly technical positions. OPM’s new training on how to conduct these reviews is a requirement under an executive order from the Trump administration to reform the federal hiring process.
    (Launch of OPM’s Structured Resume Review Training - Office of Personnel Management)
  • The Biden administration is trying to turn back the shrinking small business industrial base tide. The Biden administration is equipping agencies with two new tools to find potential firms to replenish a small business industrial base that has dropped by more than half over the last 12 years. The supplier base dashboard will help agencies track the total number of companies in their supply chain as well as the total number within a specific sector. The procurement equity tool will help contracting officers and acquisition workers better identify potential new entrants in specific geographical regions of the country. The two new tools are part of the administration’s effort to address small business challenges, including equity in and diversity of the supplier base.
  • The Commerce Department has a new leader for advancing equity. The department has named Ines Hernandez as the counselor for equity. In the new position, Hernandez will work with other Commerce leaders to implement the agency’s equity agenda. She will also collaborate with internal diversity officers to raise awareness of systemic barriers in the agency's programs. Hernandez is the first person to hold the position at the Commerce Department. The staff announcement comes just after Biden signed a new executive order on advancing racial equity in federal programs.
  • A bipartisan bill would require the State Department to give resources to Americans wrongfully detained abroad. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) are leading the Supporting Americans Wrongfully or Unlawfully Detained Abroad Act. If passed, the bill would require the State Department to cover the costs of travel to Washington, D.C. for family members of Americans wrongfully held abroad. The bill also would require that the State Department make mental-health support available to detainees and their families.
  • The platform has met three of four of its fiscal 2022 goals, while more than doubling the number of users of the identity service. The General Services Administration said in its agencywide goal update on that 41 million users and 38 agencies now take advantage of the platform. GSA also signed an agreement with the Treasury Department to explore integrating the system with IRS’s digital identity platform to further increase the reach of the service.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is making updates to key cybersecurity standards for government contractors. NIST announced changes to Special Publication 800-171 for Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information. The standards agency is streamlining portions of the document and removing several outdated requirements, among other changes. The Defense Department and other agencies require contractors to follow the NIST standards.
    ( NIST SP 800-171 Update Status - National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Military departments will have new policies for reproductive health starting next month. A directive issued by the Defense Department describes how the services and agencies should address the notification of pregnancy along with administrative absence and travel allowances for non-covered reproductive health care. The policies come from a memo released by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last October. It seeks to ensure service members access to reproductive care after a Supreme Court decision overturned the legal right to abortion. The policy allows service members to request an administrative absence from their normal duty station to access non-covered reproductive care without being charged leave.

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