The Department of Veterans Affairs is rolling out body cameras and more to its police force. The VA expects nearly 5,000 VA police officers will be using body cameras and dash cams for its police vehicles by the end of this year. The cameras will automatically start recording when officers draw their firearms, or when officers activate their emergency lights. VA is also directing its police officers to manually turn on their body cams when conducting investigations. The VA is making this change under President Joe Biden’s executive order directing all federal law enforcement to wear body cameras.
The records of 15 Black sailors who drew attention to racism in the Navy in the 1940s had their records officially changed on Friday. For speaking out in the 1940s, the sailors were given bad-conduct discharges. They were assigned to the USS Philadelphia, and became known as the "Philadelphia 15," after having a letter published in the Pittsburgh Courier that described racial discrimination, abuse and the inability to advance to higher-ranking positions. They urged African American mothers not to let their sons join the Navy. After a recent review of the case, Navy leadership upgraded the discharges of the "Philadelphia 15" to honorable.
A Department of Homeland Security office is aiming to turn the corner on low morale among its ranks. DHS’ Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office has some of the lowest employee engagement scores in the federal government. But its leaders believe the office is on the cusp of turning those scores around after a tumultuous 2022. The CWMD office completed a headquarters move to St. Elizabeth's campus last year, and it also went through a reorganization when DHS created a separate Office of Health Security. This year, CWMD leaders are trying to improve their communications with employees. But Congress will also need to reauthorize the office’s activities before the end of this calendar year.
A House Armed Services subcommittee approved a new plan to create a National Guard for the Space Force. The proposed plan must now make its way through the full House Armed Services Committee and then pass a vote in Congress to make it into the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. The Space National Guard would be created by transferring 1,000 Air National Guardsmen from 16 units across eight states and territories to the new component. The airmen in those positions are already working in space-focused specialties.
A bipartisan bill to simplify the process of applying for federal disaster aid is heading for a full Senate vote. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has advanced the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act. The bill would give individuals a single deadline to apply for two of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s major aid programs: Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and the Individuals and Household Program (IHP). The bill would require FEMA to give households up to 60 days to apply for DUA and IHP once a federal disaster has been declared. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are leading the bill.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would see its responsibilities expand under multiple bills advancing in the Senate. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the Cybersecurity Awareness Act last week. It would require CISA to develop a year-round campaign that informs the public about best practices to prevent cyber attacks and mitigate cybersecurity risks. The committee also advanced a separate bill that would let the Department of Homeland Security and CISA assign personnel to foreign posts to provide cyber assistance and expertise to international partners.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the federal government in 2021 dropped down to 34.8% since 2008. Federal facility energy use was also down in 2021. Compared to 2020, energy use was down just 0.1%, but compared to the baseline of 2003, it was down 26.6%. As of 2021, 7.4% of federal buildings were considered "high performance sustainable buildings." The federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, with over 300,000 buildings and twice as many vehicles. According to the Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, increasing the efficiency of federal operations can reduce impacts on the environment and save taxpayers money.