One of the original digital services, so-called SWAT teams, celebrates nine years on the job. The U.S. Digital Service, created in 2014 after the Healthcare.gov debacle, is a much different place nine years later. The White House launched USDS as firefighters for in-trouble IT programs. Today, USDS' mix of engineers, data scientists, product managers, designers, procurement specialists, communicators, talent professionals and operators focus on improving the delivery of services and long-term agency success. Over the last nine years, USDS has worked with more than 20 agencies to address tough challenges. These include the CDC, to create a system to collect and analyze data about the shortage of baby formula, to helping to establish the Digital IT Acquisition Professional Program that has trained over 850 contracting officers in how to buy digital services more effectively.
Digital filing options in federal cases with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are now considered just as official as paper. EEOC has finalized a rule to formally allow digital transmission of hearing and appellate documents in federal EEO cases. In addition to using paper, feds filing with the EEOC can use one of two online portals: a federal-specific one, or another for the general public. Feds have already been using both platforms for years, but now EEOC's official regulations align with that trend. Complainants' use of the two online portals is completely voluntary.
A union for rural mail carriers said members have more to lose than gain in their push to seek new representation. Several thousand Postal Service rural carriers have expressed an interest in decertifying their union after most of them saw pay cuts under a new pay system this spring. But the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) is urging caution and telling its members that a new union will not mean a better deal for rural carriers. NRLCA National President Don Maston said decertification would leave carriers vulnerable to layoffs. “The Postal Service could just simply make everybody at-will employees and get rid of them," Maston said.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is touting the growth of its vulnerability disclosure platform. Security researchers helped uncover more than 1,300 cyber vulnerabilities in public-facing federal systems last year. That is according to CISA’s first report on its Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP) Platform. The flaws that were reported to agencies by security researchers included 192 critical cyber vulnerabilities. Forty agency programs have joined CISA’s VDP Platform since it launched in July 2021.
Virginia Army base Fort A.P. Hill will now be known as Fort Walker. The name honors the country's only female Medal of Honor recipient and first female surgeon in the Civil War. Mary Walker served as a doctor for union troops during that war. President Andrew Johnson awarded the medal to Walker, even though she was a civilian. The base is one of nine Army installations to get a name change. Virginia native Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill, Jr., or A.P. Hill, served on the side of the Confederacy and was killed during the war.
Version one of the Acquisition 360 review survey includes 24 questions as a way to give agencies constructive feedback on their contracting processes. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council wants to know if these two dozen questions hit the mark or need some fine tuning. The FAR Council is seeking feedback by September 21 on whether the survey would be a good way to standardize feedback about pre-award and debriefing actions for agencies to continually improve their acquisition performance. The FAR Council estimates that about 2,700 vendors would take the survey each year.
Military service members whose duties prevent them from taking leave will now have less time to use extra vacation days before they expire. The Defense Department's policy change, announced Friday, will limit service members to carrying over 30 days of Special Leave Accrual (SLA). In the past, the Pentagon allowed 60 days of SLA leave to accumulate. SLA now expires in two years instead of three.
More than 94,000 military officers have come from the Defense Department's Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program since 2011. With that big of a pipeline, the Government Accountability Office said ROTC could significantly help along the military's efforts to improve diversity. But to make it happen, GAO said the department needs a comprehensive approach to evaluate how much ROTC actually contributes to military officer diversity. Setting goals to expand ROTC applicant pools, for example, is one way DoD could help ensure better diversity in the long run.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is on track to exceed its goal to house homeless veterans. The VA found housing for more than 26,000 veterans so far this year. That puts it on pace to go beyond its goal of housing 38,000 veterans by the end of the year. That is on top of the 40,000 homeless veterans the VA helped place in housing last year. The department said the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness fell by 11% since 2020, and more than 55% since 2010.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is taking steps to secure IT systems from super fast computers of the future. Last week, NIST released draft standards for three encryption algorithms designed to withstand attack by quantum computers. NIST is calling on the cryptographic community to provide feedback on the standards by November 22. The agency will also release a fourth draft standard later this year. Federal agencies have already been directed to inventory IT assets that would be vulnerable to an encryption-breaking quantum computer.