Marine Corps Commandant suffers serious health episode

  • Gen. Eric Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps, has suffered what appears to be a serious health episode. The Marines have not said anything about his condition other than that he had a medical emergency on Sunday night and he has been hospitalized since then. Smith’s health issues leave the Marines in an unusual situation. Because of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on confirming military officers, there is no assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. That is the person who would normally lead the service when the commandant is incapacitated. Instead, that role now falls to a 3-star officer: Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration.
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants to expand a program to pay cyber workers more. OPM developing a new proposal to expand the Homeland Security Department's Cyber Talent Management System to the rest of government. CTMS provides more pay and a more skills-based hiring process. Kiran Ahuja, the director of OPM, said should that change happen, it would be transformative. "I hear too much about agencies losing people to other agencies because of the issue of pay. It's not only just even around the federal government, but it's about us being more competitive in the private sector," Ahuja said.
  • There is a growing shortfall of qualified cybersecurity professionals. The global cybersecurity workforce has reached a record high 5.5 million people. But there are roughly four million more cyber professionals needed worldwide, with the gap growing by 12% since last year. That is according to the latest cyber workforce report from cyber certification group ISC2. The study shows the steepest staffing shortfalls are in the government, military and military contracting sectors. Across all industries, some of the top causes of the staffing shortfalls are a lack of qualified talent, the need for more competitive pay, and the challenge of keeping up with turnover and attrition.
  • The White House is calling on agencies to staff up on experts in artificial intelligence. President Joe Biden is a calling for a governmentwide talent surge in his new AI executive order. He is directing the Office of Personnel Management to lead a mass-hiring event in the coming months for AI experts to join federal service. OPM will also give agencies guidance on how they can use existing pay flexibilities and incentives to convince those AI experts to join the government. Biden said the federal government needs to lead on AI policy in the U. S. and abroad. "AI is all around us. Much of it is making our lives better," Biden said.
  • House Republicans have proposed taking away billions of dollars in IRS modernization funds and using the money for aid to Israel. Members of the House Rules Committee proposed more than $14 billion in military aid to Israel, amid its ongoing war against Hamas. That matches a recent White House request for emergency funds. But GOP lawmakers plan to pay for the aid package by rescinding that amount from IRS funds in the Inflation Reduction Act. The White House already agreed to cut the IRS’ multi-year modernization fund from $80 billion to $60 billion, as part of debt-ceiling negotiations earlier this year.
  • The Defense Department spent almost $28 billion for the Military Intelligence Program for fiscal 2023, which is up from last year. For fiscal 2022, Congress allocated about $24 billion. The Pentagon said the classified budget is aligned with its National Defense Strategy, but DoD does not disclose details about the overall program beyond the topline number. The Military Intelligence Program consists of programs, projects and activities to support intelligence, counterintelligence and other related activities.
  • Agencies have updated guidance for the type of infrastructure projects that the Buy American Act applies to under the bipartisan infrastructure law. A new memo from the Office of Management and Budget told agencies to interpret the term “infrastructure” broadly. The projects should be publicly owned-and-operated or privately operated on behalf of the public. OMB also detailed three reasons why a head of an agency could issue a Buy American Act waiver for infrastructure projects. The waiver process now includes a 15-day public comment period. The memo updates two previous guidance from 2022 and 2023.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs approved fewer initial disability compensation claims from members of the Reserves and National Guard than for those on active duty, according to the Government Accountability Office. GAO found that members of the National Guard or Reserves may have a hard time proving disabilities are service-related because they only serve part-time. Therefore, they may not be able to access disability compensation. The DoD and VA will work together on guidance-and-outreach materials to address the issue. While they have guidance for reserve disability benefits, it does not cover the need to document how health conditions are related to time serving.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has launched a free tool to help organizations monitor their networks for cyber threats. The service, called, “Logging Made Easy,” is meant for Windows-based equipment. Logs help pinpoint exactly who is connected to a device and how they are using it. CISA took over administration of the Logging Made Easy tool from the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre earlier this year. It is now available for download on Github, an open-source-software website.

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