The Justice Department is expanding the number of people and resources to fight national security-related corporate crime. Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Marshall Miller said corporate crime presents a significant and growing threat to the nation's national security, so DoJ is adding over two dozen new prosecutors to its National Security Division to focus on corporate crime. That group will include the first-ever chief counsel for National Security Corporate Enforcement. Additionally, for the first time, all 94 U.S. Attorney's office have adopted a single voluntary self-disclosure policy for corporate enforcement matters.
The latest cyber data is out from the Office of Management and Budget and it is mostly good news. Agencies faced fewer cyber attacks in fiscal 2022 with the total number dropping by about 5%. OMB's annual FISMA report to Congress shows there were 30,659 cyber attacks last year, compared to 32,509 in 2021. The most common attack vector remains in the "unknown" category. Additionally, agencies said email or phishing attacks ticked up slightly to more than 3,000. OMB said 93% of these attacks last year were considered “baseline,” meaning they were labeled “unsubstantiated or inconsequential event[s].” Agencies reported only four major incidents in 2022.
The backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests across government has reached new heights. The governmentwide FOIA backlog topped 200,000 requests for the first time ever at the end of fiscal 2022. That is according to a round-up of agency FOIA reports published by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy this week. The record-high FOIA backlog comes as no surprise after agencies also received a record number of FOIA requests last year. Five agencies account for 80% of the FOIA requests received and the corresponding backlog. Those five agencies are the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, as well as the State Department, and DoJ itself.
Employees and management at the Environmental Protection Agency are at an impasse over contract negotiations. A contract provision on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility has become a sticking point for the American Federation of Government Employees. Like most agencies, EPA has committed itself to fostering DEIA in the federal workforce. But AFGE leaders are calling for actions to match the commitment. The union said EPA declared an impasse in bargaining over the contract article. They are now asking EPA to reconsider proposals for DEIA training, installation of gender-neutral bathrooms and more. EPA has said actions to advance DEIA are included in its strategic plan, as well as the development of a more fine-tuned internal DEIA strategy.
The Biden administration is about to set new rules for how federal agencies use artificial intelligence tools. The Office of Management and Budget is planning to release draft guidance this summer on the use of AI systems within the federal government. The OMB guidance will establish specific policies for federal agencies to follow when it comes to the development, procurement and use of AI systems, all while upholding the rights of the American public. A senior administration official said the draft guidance will focus on AI risks to safety and security, civil rights, and the economy. OMB will release the draft guidance for public comment before it goes into effect.
( - Federal News Network)
The Defense Department will begin implementing its new cyber and IT workforce strategy within a month. In March, DoD released its five-year plan to develop and expand the workforce, as a way to fill critically needed technical positions. The plan addresses a 25% vacancy rate in DoD's cyber workforce, even as the need for cyber and IT professionals expands. The strategy emphasizes recruiting new civilian employees, and retaining service members with technical specialties. The strategy marks a shift in how the Pentagon manages and hires technical.
Commitment and action from agency leadership is critical for effective anti-harassment policies. That is according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which detailed best practices for agencies to prevent and mitigate harassment in the federal workplace. The EEOC's new guidance incorporates changes stemming from the pandemic, including increasing prevalence of harassment in online work spaces. Harassment has remained the number one issue in federal employee discrimination complaints for more than a decade.
As the Defense Department moves ahead with implementing zero trust, the National Guard faces unique hurdles in putting the cybersecurity program in place. National Guard CIO Kenneth McNeill said the hardest part is communication. Each state has a different culture and level of understanding when it comes to guarding its network and software. The guard operates in 54 states and territories that all need to eventually meet zero trust standards. Different commands also require interoperability of their systems to interface with local governments and first responders.
The Defense Department wants to share information about cyber threats with a lot more contractors. In a notice published this week, DoD has proposed a program to allow companies to receive cyber threat intelligence from DoD. Currently that information is limited to contractors that have been cleared to handle classified information. DoD wants to expand it to any contractor that handles sensitive information, which would increase the number eligible companies from 12,000 to nearly 80,000 vendors.
Department of Veterans Affairs employees claiming whistleblower retaliation are seeing more cases resolved in their favor. The Government Accountability Office found that the Office of Special Counsel, between fiscal 2018 and 2022, went from ruling in favor of VA whistleblowers in 3% of cases to 10% of cases. But OSC still closed 59% of cases of alleged whistleblower retaliation at VA, because it found insufficient evidence for further action. About two-thirds of OSC cases involving VA employees include claims of whistleblower retaliation.