Funerals at Arlington National Cemetery will not have caissons for 45 days. A caisson is a horse drawn wagon or cart. In order to address health concerns regarding the horses, the Army announced it suspended caisson support on May 1, at the advice of equine veterinarians. The Army will make changes to the long care of its Old Guard horses, including expanding their pastures, allowing them rest and rehabilitation, and purchasing new horses. It also plans to improve the equipment and possibly use lighter caissons to ease the load for the horses. An Army report last year found poor management practices and unsatisfactory sanitation in caring for the caisson horses.
(Army announces long-term caisson platoon rehabilitation plan - Army Public Affairs)
President Biden is facing calls to fill long-time watchdog vacancies across government. The Treasury Department has not had a permanent inspector general in nearly four years, and the State Department has not had a permanent IG in nearly three years. President Joe Biden has not nominated anyone to serve in those watchdog jobs or to serve as IG at four other agencies. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are calling on Biden to take the first step toward getting these positions filled. The Council of IGs on Integrity and Efficiency estimates agencies could save more than $62 billion if they implemented all open recommendations made by their IGs.
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The Defense Intelligence Agency is expanding its shared-services role in the defense and intelligence communities. DIA will handle the common infrastructure at the top-secret level for more of the Defense Department. E.P. Mathew, DIA's deputy CIO, said a new initiative called, "The Company Storefront," will provide top secret/sensitive compartmented information or TS/SCI desktop services in a fee-for-service approach. "At the Pentagon in fiscal 2024, we'll take over 7,500 DISA users, meaning DIA will be providing desktop services for them," Mathew said. DIA already provides TS/SCI services to 50,000 users across the IC and DoD communities. "The Company Storefront," he said, will make it easier for agencies to adopt top-secret desktop services, instead of having to build and manage their own.
( - Federal News Network)
The CIA is making major organizational changes to try to improve how it handles allegations of sexual assault and harassment. One of its first steps was naming Dr. Taleeta Jackson to lead its sexual assault prevention and response office. Jackson comes over from the Navy, where she oversaw the service's sexual assault prevention program for more than 70 installations. Additionally, the CIA will issue new guidance for how to report incidents and is establishing a task force to help streamline its organizational structure and processes for handling sexual harassment and assault reports.
A new bill aims to boost pay and benefits for federal wildland firefighters. The Wildland Firefighter Pay Parity and Classification Act, also known as Tim's Act, would increase base pay for the federal first responders. It would also offer more paid time off for rest and recuperation. And firefighters would get more assistance toward housing, retirement and tuition costs as part of the bill. The National Federation of Federal Employees, the union representing federal wildland firefighters, said the legislation would deliver much-needed support for the frontline workers amid worsening fire seasons and lagging recruitment and retention. The bill is named for Tim Hart, a Forest Service Smokejumper. who was killed fighting a New Mexico fire in 2021.
Army Director of Acquisition Career Management Ronald Richardson told the Acquisition Research Symposium in Monterey, California that the Army is transforming its acquisition workforce. He said the workforce is evolving through efforts to upskill, reskill and retrain it. Part of the effort includes a series of digital transformation courses required for every member of the acquisition workforce. Many workforce members also do stints working with industry to better understand the commercial side of contracting.
The White House is finally filling a key supply-chain oversight role. President Joe Biden nominated Deborah Robinson to be the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. If confirmed by the Senate, Robinson would replace Vishal Amin, who left the role in January 2021 to head-up IP policy at Intel. Currently, Robinson is the head of intellectual property enforcement at Paramount Global. She's an attorney who also spent seven years as the assistant district attorney for the city of Philadelphia. As the IP enforcement coordinator, Robinson would coordinate with agencies around IP programs, oversight and policies.
Top Senate Republicans are putting more pressure on the State Department to release confidential messages from career diplomats. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) are reintroducing legislation that would require the department to provide Congress with a classified version of dissent channel cables from diplomatic officials during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The dissent channel serves as a forum for State Department personnel to critique policy decisions. The bill would also require the department to release an unclassified version of the cables to the public. Earlier this month, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCall (R-Texas) threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for not turning over the documents.