A watchdog has flagged serious concerns with the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) pre-hire screening processes. The Justice Department’s inspector general said the DEA hired at least 77 special agents and other applicants over the past two years, despite them failing or not completing a polygraph examination. That is in spite of a 2019 DEA policy that prohibits the agency from hiring special agents and other applicants who cannot successfully pass a polygraph. The IG’s management alert also uncovered potential favoritism at the DEA for applicants with connections to a current or former agency employee. The DEA disputed some of the findings, telling the IG that those flagged for polygraph issues were already in the application process prior to the March 2019 policy change.
The Labor Department is struggling to retain drug intervention specialists in its Job Corps centers. Adding to the issue, department officials said the agency has not assessed specific options to address those hiring challenges. In a new report, the Government Accountability Office finds that those hiring and retention challenges of specialists negatively affect the Job Corps' ability to provide intervention services to students who test positive for drugs. The Job Corps is a Labor Department program offering resources to low-income youth, which includes drug intervention services. GAO recommended that the Labor Department consider making changes to its current hiring policies, and increase flexibility in the recruitment of drug intervention specialists.
A familiar face returns to the Interior Department to run its cybersecurity office. Stan Lowe is the Interior Department's new chief information security officer (CISO) . He started earlier this month after eight years in the private sector. Lowe worked previously as the CISO for the Veterans Affairs Department and the chief information officer (CIO) at the Federal Trade Commission. This is Lowe's second stint at Interior, having worked there in 2005, as part of the information security training branch. Before coming back to government, Lowe worked as the lead cybersecurity executive at several private sector companies, including Booz Allen Hamilton, Zscaler and most recently Synchronoss Technologies.
A watchdog report said the United States Postal Service (USPA) can do more to make its 10-year reform plan succeed. USPS plans to implement more than 100 projects over the coming years as part of its Delivering for America plan. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is urging the agency to take additional steps to keep track of all these changes. GAO recommends USPS track lessons learned throughout the 10-year plan, and develop a master schedule for each project. USPS’ long-term financial health has been on the GAO’s High-Risk List since 2009. But officials said the agency’s 10-year plan, and Congress passing postal reform legislation last year, are steps in the right direction.
House Republicans want an investigation into why Space Command is making its permanent headquarters in Colorado and not Alabama. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the reasons for the basing decision. The White House announced in July the command would stay in its current location in Colorado Springs. Rogers vowed to continue fighting to have the headquarters moved to Huntsville. He requested the investigation in a letter sent to GAO on Wednesday.
Federal employees in six cities around the country, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Tacoma, can test out new co-working sites the General Services Administration (GSA) is promoting under its Workplace 2030 initiative. GSA is also asking feds to take a survey to gauge their interest in taking advantage of these shared spaces. The co-working sites and survey will help GSA test-and-assess the spaces’ design, technologies and operations in a federal environment and inform their future workplace offerings. GSA opened the first co-working site in Washington, D.C. last fall and has expanded them to other cities including Kansas City, Denver and San Francisco.
Over the next five years, the Defense Health Agency wants to modernize and integrate its health care delivery system and expand its workforce. A new strategic plan lays out the ways the agency plans to expand its capabilities and care for the Defense Department's civilian and military employees. The plan prioritizes adopting new technology to improve both its care options and its information delivery systems. The agency plans to update the strategy each year, and use the performance management framework to measure its success.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking feedback on how the government should approach the Internet of Things (IOT). NIST’s IOT Federal Working Group released a notice this week asking for comments on how agencies should address IOT development, deployment and security. The working group has been tasked by Congress with delivering sweeping recommendations on IOT policies by next June. Internet-connected devices are expected to change a range of sectors including transportation, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare. The NIST working group is taking comments through Sept. 25.
The General Services Administration (GSA) is rolling out new investments to make federal buildings more sustainable. GSA is spending $88 million to make 18 federal buildings in the Denver area more sustainable, as part of the Biden administration’s green government goals. The projects are partially funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. GSA estimates the projects will lead to a $2 million dollar reduction in annual energy costs, and cut 29,000 metric tons of CO-2 emissions each year.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is not effectively training its employees in records management, the agency's Inspector General has found in a new report. The IG said FHFA could not demonstrate that it had provided all the required training to contractors and several senior managers. In some cases, the IG found that the agency had offboarded retiring senior officials without completing the training, despite receiving a notification about the requirement. FHFA is required to train both employees and contractors in records management, including both newly hired feds and senior officials about to leave the agency.