House Republicans want to freeze hiring at the Education Department

In today's Federal Newscast: An IRS watchdog says the handling of sensitive taxpayer records is often sloppy. CISA launches a new program to help bolster the ne...

  • An IRS watchdog says the agency isn’t doing enough to prevent taxpayer records from falling into the wrong hands. The IRS isn’t always following its guidelines when sending large volumes of sensitive taxpayer records between its tax processing centers nationwide. That is according to a recent report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). IRS employees said incomplete forms when shipping files meant there would be no way to identify which taxpayers were affected when records are lost in transit. TIGTA found 11 packages containing sensitive tax records were lost in transit between January 2021 and August 2022. The IRS recovered only two of those packages.
  • Nurses at two Defense Health Agency clinics in Hawaii have solidified their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. The new contract currently covers 350 registered nurses working at DHA, who will be represented by the American Federation of Government Employees. The employees at the two facilities in Hawaii are part of a total 40,000 civilian bargaining unit employees who are in the process of transferring to DHA. The new local contract is an interim agreement and AFGE expects a larger contract coming forward, once the union gets through a list of cases with the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
    (AFGE local in Hawaii signs interim contract with Defense Health Agency - American Federation of Government Employees)
  • Intelligence agencies are still grappling with how to take advantage of open-source information. A new Open Source Intelligence office is working under the director of national intelligence to help coordinate OSINT efforts across the intelligence community. Officials are also working to professionalize the OSINT discipline across spy agencies through tradecraft and standards. Intelligence agencies have been criticized in the past for overly relying on classified sources and methods. In order to take full advantage of OSINT going forward, officials said they want to make sure they are sharing data and best practices throughout the intelligence community.
  • GSA is giving some agencies more time to transition to the new telecommunications contract. Eight agencies now have until May 31, 2026 to complete their transition to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS contract. That is six more agencies than the General Services Administration first announced back in December who were in need of extra time. These eight agencies are getting two extra years on top of the previous extension GSA gave to 80 agencies to complete their transition to EIS by May 2024. As of Aug. 2, GSA said 133 out of 222 agencies have completed their transition from Networx. But none of the large agencies and only eight medium agencies have fully gotten off the old telecommunications contract.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is launching a new, voluntary program to help bolster the network security of critical infrastructure organizations. The ReadySetCyber program will help both critical infrastructure and state and local governments get access to services tailored to their specific cybersecurity needs. CISA plans to use a questionnaire to get more information from participating organizations about the current state of their cyber defenses. CISA is accepting comments on the new program through a Federal Register notice until Oct. 10.
  • Agencies have new requirements to ensure grantees receiving certain kinds of funding comply with the Build America, Buy America Act that was part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law BIL. The Office of Management and Budget's final rule issued today tells agencies, starting in October, that they must give preference to grantees who are buying American made iron, steel and other construction materials for all infrastructure projects whether funded through BIL or not. OMB issued initial guidance in April 2022, but this new memo provides updates to the definition of the manufacturing process and to the different categories of products.
  • House Republicans have introduced a bill intended to freeze hiring at the Department of Education. The FREEZE Act, from Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), would block the department from hiring any new employees, as well as establishing any new positions. It would also permanently rescind any funding related to new hiring at the Education Department. Bean, along with other Republicans on the Education and Workforce Committee, said the goal of the bill is to "get feds out of the classroom and stop the ever increasing bureaucracy at the Department of Education."
    (Halt hiring at the Department of Education - Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fla.))
  • By the end of the month, the Army's new voluntary education and training portal will be fully deployed and able to interface with the Army's integrated personnel and pay system. The portal, called ArmyIgnitED, now allows all user groups including soldiers, cadets and civilians to request funds for education, training and professional development opportunities. The system is designed to make applying for training easier and payments to academic institutions and vendors faster.
  • Defense Department veteran Jennifer Hay has taken over as director of the Defense Digital Service (DDS) in the Office of the Chief Digital and AI Officer. Hay has been serving as principal deputy for the DDS since January. She replaces Jinyoung Englund, who was acting director for less than a year. Hay has held multiple Defense Department positions in the past, including a stint with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as deputy director for intelligence and security. Hay also worked in the private sector for DataRobot as head of global government relations.
  • NASA is bringing a long-time intelligence community official into its ranks as its chief data officer. David Salvagnini is taking over as NASA’s CDO, following the retirement of Ron Thomson last year. Salvagnini has served as the chief information officer for the intelligence community, as well as holding several jobs at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He joined the civil service in 2005, after retiring from the Air Force as a communications and computer systems officer.

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