Another military services CIO is on the move. The Air Force has made it a trifecta of military service chief information officers heading out the door. Lauren Knausenberger joined her counterparts at the Army and the Department of the Navy in deciding now was the right time to leave. The Air Force confirmed Knausenberger will be departing in June after more than two years on the job. The Air Force hopes to have a new CIO in place before she leaves. Knausenberger’s decision comes just days after Navy CIO Aaron Weis announced he is leaving in March and just two weeks after Army CIO Raj Iyer left his position.
A senator is calling on Customs and Border Protection to shut down its mobile app for processing asylum seekers. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, asking him to end the use of CBP One, an app that was launched in October 2020. DHS recently began requiring all asylum seekers at the southern border to use CBP One, but Markey said the app is riddled with glitches, adding that those fleeing dangerous countries don’t always have access to a smartphone.
A watchdog report has found the Department of Veterans Affairs is not always following protocol to hire health care employees with a drug felony. The Drug Enforcement Agency requires VA medical centers to get a waiver before hiring anyone with a controlled-substance-related felony conviction. But the Government Accountability Office flagged 50 VA health care employees with drug felonies, out of a 300-employee sample. The VA admited it did not request waivers for 48 of the 50 employees that GAO identified and, as a result, the agency is developing a more consistent employment-waiver policy.
The Department of Homeland Security unveiled new results from facial recognition tests. Face-matching systems could be used to quickly and efficiently screen small groups of people in places like airports. That is the conclusion of the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, based on its 2022 Biometric Technology Rally. The 11 days of testing put four face-acquisition systems and 10 face-matching algorithms through the ringer. The best system could identify 97% of the people in groups of two or four, in less than two seconds per individual. The tests also found misconfigured cameras and poor image quality were the major sources of errors.
Working Sundays for the Postal Service? A former mail carrier said that’s against his religion. Gerald Groff, a former mail carrier in rural Pennsylvania, told the Supreme Court in a filing that USPS failed to demonstrate that meeting his religious accommodation — not to work Sundays — was an "undue burden" on the agency. Groff resigned from USPS in 2019, after the agency disciplined him for missing 24 scheduled Sunday shifts that management wasn’t able to cover with other employees. USPS struck a deal in 2013 to deliver packages on Sundays for Amazon. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in April.
A new five-step framework is out, giving federal technology executives a path to follow on their cloud journey, based on the experience of nine agencies. The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) and the IBM Center for the Business of Government created the approach based on feedback from the likes of the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Census Bureau and NIH. For each of the five steps, the good government groups highlighted the key elements needed to find success. PPS and IBM said as more and more agencies move applications to the cloud, the framework will help them overcome new and long-time challenges that have emerged over the past decade.
The Agriculture Department is experimenting with ways to improve employee engagement. USDA uses an internal newsletter, for instance, to highlight the work of employees and emphasize the role of community in the workforce. And department heads encourage staff to attend town halls and offer feedback. Agency leaders also give out "recognition coins" as awards to employees who embody engagement. Joseph Abbott, the chief human capital officer for the Food & Safety Inspection Service, said these efforts help connect employees, especially with a geographically spread out workforce.
Leaders at the Labor Department are taking steps to advance racial equity in the workforce. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Deputy Secretary Julie Su met with Black labor leaders to discuss some policies and reforms necessary to improve workforce diversity. The meeting also focused on topics like worker organizing, and federal investments in equitable policies.
The Defense Department has a new initiative to help small businesses get more DoD contracts. The department's newly released small business strategy laid out a series of objectives, including a unified management structure for DoD small business programs that will ensure the department’s small business activities align with national security priorities. The plan aims to strengthen the department’s support of small businesses by providing training and other resources, aiming to help companies resist cyber threats, IP infringement and foreign ownership-and-control that pose threats to DoD's supply chain.
An Air Force training center is using virtual-reality goggles and body-worn sensors to help international military students get a more realistic learning experience. Military and law enforcement students from Latin America are working with a simulator at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The students in the program focus on counter-narcotic efforts and combating transnational criminal organizations. The training simulator, which allows instructors to create an infinite number of scenarios, works like a video game and gives the user an avatar that can realistically interact with other users, creating a true-to-life environment.