DoD employees have complained for years about the Defense Travel System (DTS). That is the platform they use to book airline tickets and claim travel reimbursements. But it looks like they are stuck with it for the foreseeable future. After five years and tens of millions of dollars in spending, the Pentagon is cancelling the program that was supposed to replace DTS. That system was called MyTravel, and it was started under a nearly $400 million contract with SAP Concur just two years ago. DoD said the system will stop working in September. The department has not explained the reasons for the cancellation.
Gen. Eric Smith has been tapped to be the next commandant of the Marines Corps. President Joe Biden nominated Smith to replace Gen. David Berger, who is retiring this summer after being in the role since 2019. Smith has been the assistant commandant since 2021. During his 36-year career, Smith has also led the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and oversaw efforts to make the Marines lighter and more mobile. He developed the strategy called Force Design 2030, as well as the Talent Management 2030 recruiting and retention strategy.
The Postal Service has been cleared to to raise mail rates later this summer, getting the go-ahead from its regulator. The Postal Regulatory Commission is approving a USPS request to raise the price of a First Class stamp from 63 cents to 66 cents on July 9. That marks the second rate hike of its kind this year. USPS raised the price of a First-Class stamp from 60 cents to 63 cents in January.
Career civil servants could be the key to improving trust in government. Only about one-third of Americans said they trust the federal government. And just 20% of people think the government is transparent and listens to the public. But a survey from the Partnership for Public Service showed that the perception of federal employees themselves is much more positive. More than half of survey respondents said they thought federal employees are competent, hardworking and doing public service. The Partnership said calling more attention to the work of civil servants could increase the public’s trust in government overall.
Another military service is ready to add more capabilities to its cloud platform. The Army joins the Air Force in taking initial steps to expand the number of services provided through its enterprise cloud platform. The Army issued four requests for information over the last few weeks to bring more services to the Army Enterprise Cloud Management Agency. One RFI is to manage cloud resellers. Another RFI is focused on expertise, training and application of cloud financial operations. A third request is for developing a DevSecOps platform, and the fourth RFI is asking for feedback on services for managing cloud software. Responses to the RFIs are due between early and mid June.
The Department of Homeland Security wants to move away from so-called "Big Bang" IT modernization projects. DHS Chief Information Officer Eric Hysen said the department is done with major multiyear technology programs run by large-system integrators. Hysen testified
before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. “One of the results of that 'Big Bang' approach with single-system integrators was that every IT system would build everything from the ground up," he said. Instead, Hysen said DHS is shifting to enterprise services and agile, iterative technology developments. DHS plans to release an updated IT strategic plan later this year.
The Federal Secure Cloud Advisory Committee is considering six broad areas for how to improve the FedRAMP program. Before its first-ever meeting on May 25, the Office of Management and Budget gave the public-and-private-sector experts a discussion White Paper outlining questions-and-challenges to the 13-year-old security initiative. Among the areas OMB wants committee feedback are around governance and authorizations of cloud-service providers. This includes seven questions about how the new FedRAMP board should operate to increase the number of cloud services. Additionally, the committee is reviewing how to apply more automation to FedRAMP, as well as the use of continuous monitoring.
One agency is cutting down on the time the public has to spend filling out paperwork. The Department of Homeland Security said it has reduced the time the public needs to access DHS services by 20 million hours annually. DHS simplified online paperwork processes, pre-populated online forms when appropriate, and made more forms available online, such as applications for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program. The public interacts with DHS more than any other federal agency, and the department said it is committed to making further customer experience improvements.
The Department of Health and Human Services deployed over 45 disaster response personnel to Guam to help in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. The personnel are from the National Disaster Medical System Health and Medical Task Force and Incident Management Team. The NDMS and IMT personnel are working with FEMA, territorial health authorities and emergency response officials to address health impacts of the typhoon. They are also determining if further federal public health and medical resources are needed. HHS also has a Disaster Distress Helpline providing counseling to those affected by Typhoon Mawar. The typhoon hit the island on May 24.
President Joe Biden’s pick for second-in-command at the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to get the rollout of an Electronic Health Record rolling again. Tanya Bradsher is the VA deputy secretary nominee. She said a recently renegotiated contract with vendor Oracle-Cerner gives VA the tools it needs to get the EHR’s troubled rollout back on track. But Bradsher said the VA needs to do more with feedback from VA clinicians, who are frustrated with the new EHR’s outages and usability challenges. “We simply have to have an electronic health care record that our veterans can rely on," Bradsher said. If confirmed, Bradsher said she would also focus on getting more veterans to enroll in VA care and benefits under the toxic-exposure PACT Act signed into law last summer.
A governmentwide training program for managing hybrid employees, agency guidance on the future of work, and a new “talent pool” option on USAJOBS to facilitate agencies’ shared hiring. These are some of the latest efforts from the Biden administration, which has been chipping away at the goals of the President’s Management Agenda. And more is still coming up for the PMA. For one, the Office of Personnel Management is now developing a way to track pooled hiring opportunities, as well as track employees who ended up getting an offer from shared job announcements. OPM’s plans are part of the first priority of the PMA: strengthening and empowering the federal workforce.