The Navy is losing a key technology executive. Aaron Weis, the Department of the Navy’s chief information officer, is leaving after more than three years. Federal News Network has confirmed Weis’s last day will be March 17. In an email to staff, obtained by Federal News Network, Weis said Jane Rathbun, the DoN’s principal deputy CIO, will take over in the interim until a new permanent CIO is named. Weis joined the Defense Department in September 2018 as a senior adviser to the DoD CIO. He ascended to the DoN CIO a little less than a year later.
The federal contracting industry has provided big-time support to federal agencies helping Ukraine. On the one-year anniversary of the Russian attack, the trade group Professional Services Council reported on how member companies have helped in the $113 billion effort. Many support the U.S. Agency for International Development. Big names like Deloitte aid Ukranian health care restoration. Amazon Web Services keeps the internet alive. But lesser known companies have had a big impact, like Amentum, which helped the Justice Department set up a procurement system for critical medical and tactical supplies.
The Defense Logistics Agency beat its own goal on small business contracts for the tenth consecutive year in 2022. It obligated 39% of its contracts to small businesses when its goal was 35%. The agency also hit 3.5% in the historically underutilized business zone category for the second consecutive year, surpassing its goal of 3%. The 2022 DLA small business contracts reached a value of almost $16 billion. The agency's Small Business Innovation Program contracts with those businesses to eliminate gaps in parts for weapons systems.
Agencies are relying on maps to advance the Biden administration’s environmental justice initiative. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new interactive map, the Environmental Justice Index, to help users understand the cumulative impacts of environmental factors on health. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is mapping out urban heat islands in cities across the country. Those efforts are part of the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative to focus more federal resources on disadvantaged communities. The White House is directing agencies to use yet another map, the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, to guide their Justice40 investments.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeing progress in its hiring goals. The VA views increased hiring and decreased attrition as positive signs that it will be able to retain the health care workforce it needs to handle a surge of new patients. Undersecretary for Health Shereef Elnahal said the Veterans Health Administration has hired more than 18,000 new employees so far in fiscal 2023. The VHA still plans to hire 52,000 employees by the end of the fiscal year. But a lower attrition rate means the agency may not necessarily need to hire so aggressively in the coming months. “We are on pace to not only meet that goal, but exceed it for the fiscal year," Elnahal said.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has changed-over a couple outdated forms for the Thrift Savings Plan. The board replaced the older documents during the TSP recordkeeping transition last summer. The board has published a list of all the obsolete forms and is asking agencies and customer service representatives to help remove all old forms from use. If participants submit an obsolete form, they won't hear back from TSP, and the transaction will not be processed.
Agencies should go beyond data to improve workforce diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Information from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, for example, can help agencies better understand their DEIA pain points. But some federal diversity leaders recommend other methods, too, to hedge against incorrect interpretations of the data. "Getting to know your employees and asking questions, understanding, engaging with your employees to identify what barriers and challenges they feel is, to me, one of the key things that they could do to be more inclusive," said Jay Snipes, the Treasury Department Fiscal Service's diversity and inclusion officer.
The FBI is taking back control over the acquisition of its mega IT services contract, called ITSSS-2. The bureau issued notice saying it now has the contracting staff to handle the award phase of the blanket purchase agreement that could be worth as much as $7 billion. The FBI initially partnered with the General Services Administration to run the acquisition. But almost a year after issuing an RFI and after initial efforts to get ITSSS-2 going in 2018, the FBI said it has onboarded experienced and senior procurement professionals to lead the execution of complex contract vehicles. The FBI said it expects to award ITSSS-2 within calendar year 2023, with a final mid-summer RFQ release and a possible Industry engagement event in late Spring 2023.
Homeland security advisers are urging the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop common security standards for government contractors. The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee approved its latest report Tuesday. The group is also recommending CISA expand the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program to scan more technologies and applications. And the advisers say federal shared services programs should leverage automation to evaluate information security requirements. The group’s report comes as the White House prepares to release a new national cybersecurity strategy in the coming weeks.
Vermont lawmakers are pressing the Postal Service for answers on service delays in their state. Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) in telling USPS its staffing shortages are leading to mail and package delays. The lawmakers said more than a thousand packages from constituents are days or weeks late, despite being listed as “out for delivery.” The lawmakers seek service performance data from USPS, as well as more information on the agency’s plans to address the workforce shortages.
Military members might need to skip the poppy-seed bagels and muffins at Sunday brunch. The Defense Department is warning that eating poppy seeds could elevate codeine levels and cause the unlucky bagel eater to test positive on a urinalysis. Out of an abundance of caution, the department is encouraging all service members to avoid the consumption of poppy seeds in all forms. No word yet on the penalty for getting caught driving under the influence of muffins.