CIO Council delivers new guide for managing cloud services

In today's Federal Newscast: Polaris is facing yet another protest. A federal watchdog has found multiple cases of risky mobile apps downloaded onto ICE devices...

  • Agencies asked and the CIO Council delivered a new guide for managing cloud services. A new Cloud Operations Best Practices and Resource Guide aims to answer some of the toughest remaining questions for how best to move to cloud services. The CIO Council's Enterprise Operations committee and General Services Administration’s IT Modernization Division's new resource guide highlight the best practices and advice from 82 experts, from 31 agencies, for purchasing, managing and migrating cloud applications. The guide is broken into four main, standalone sections: Leadership, business management, security and platform engineering. It also includes five appendices providing templates to everything from assessing cloud readiness to managing supply chain and change management challenges.
  • The Federal Reserve is not shying away from exploring the use of generative artificial intelligence. The Fed is looking at different use cases under a generative AI incubator. The central bank works with a lot of data and some areas, like its payment systems and its regulatory and supervision work, could make use of AI assistance. That is according to the Federal Reserve’s chief innovation officer Sunayna Tuteja. “This construct really enables us to interrogate this technology and apply this technology with a bias for action,” she said during a Microsoft event last week. Tuteja said generative AI will not replace humans at the Fed, but instead augment their work as a partner.
  • The Veterans Heath Administration is training up the next generation of its human resources workforce. VHA more than doubled its hiring goals for fiscal 2023, but the agency is now focused on “hiring the hirers.” VHA, through its HR-STAR program, is taking new graduates and putting them through a year of training before starting the job. The HR-STAR program saw its first cohort graduate from training last month. David Perry is VHA’s chief officer for workforce management and consulting. He said it takes a new hire about three years to understand everything about the job. “Just because you spent a year in intensive training doesn't mean that you're a subject matter expert,” Perry said.
  • The General Services Administration's small business governmentwide IT services contract, known as Polaris, is facing yet another protest. And GSA's handling of mentor-protégé and joint ventures is, once again, at issue. Akima Data Management filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office on October 31. Akima is challenging the latest amendment, the ninth, around letting mentor-protégé joint ventures submit revised experience examples as part of their self-scoring proposal. Akima claims that change is unfair and improper. GAO has until February 8 to decide the protest.
  • TSP returns continued to fall in October. For the third month in a row, most Thrift Savings Plan funds posted negative returns. It is not all bad news, however. The government securities investment G fund was up 0.4%, marking the only positive returns last month. The C fund marked the highest year-to-date returns at 10.67%. The small cap stock index S fund once again posted the worst return of the month. All Lifecycle funds are in the red for the third consecutive month, but, for the year, remain in the black.
  • A federal watchdog has found multiple cases where users were able to download risky mobile applications on devices managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Department of Homeland Security inspector general issued a management alert on the issue just last week. The redacted report found some of the applications included those banned due to spying and national security concerns. The IG blamed the issues on ICE’s outdated and overly permissive personal use policy. ICE said it has taken immediate action to block any risky applications.
  • The Navy plans to focus on three strategic priorities: strengthening maritime dominance, building a culture of warfighting excellence and enhancing strategic partnerships. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced the latest strategic guidance last week. He said they are meant to help modernize the Navy and secure its readiness. Among other areas, the strategic guidance focuses on the industrial base, uncrewed technology, education and diplomacy.
  • Thirteen federal employees received recognition for their work in an assortment of fields, including applied science and engineering, leadership and management, and social science. The George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) awarded the 74th annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards on November 1. Nominated by their agencies, the Flemming awards are presented to employees with 3-15 years of federal service. The federal employees receiving recognition included Edwin Chan at National Institute of Standards and Technology, Sujay Kumar at NASA's Hydrological Science Lab, and Andrew Metcalf at DoD's Air Force Research Laboratory.
    (NAPA recognizes 13 federal employees with Flemming awards - National Academy of Public Administration)
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants to improve on recent successes to further reduce its retirement claims backlog. A memo from OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said OPM is increasing staff, streamlining processes and building a digital processing system. OPM is also asking agencies to institute quality control measures to reduce the number of errors in retirement applications they submit. The memo said, on average, one quarter of retirement claims contain errors that extend the processing time. OPM is also asking for a projection of retirement claims expected between December 2023 and March 2024, so it can better prepare its staff.
  • Agency watchdog offices are taking new steps to create a better workplace for employees and a better way to serve the public. A governmentwide council of inspectors general said its members are making reports accessible to readers with a range of disabilities. They are also seeing if agencies are providing equal access to their public services and information. Agency IG offices are focused on promoting inclusiveness within the workforce and addressing instances of workplace harassment.
  • The Pentagon’s artificial intelligence arm wants to expand its reach into industry. The Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) is hosting a procurement industry forum on November 30. It will tell vendors about its upcoming procurement plans, needs and mission to help industry work more effectively with the Defense Department. CDAO said it will share information about its procurement forecast, assisted procurements, an acquisition ecosystem primer and its needs for responsible AI, Joint All-Domain Command and Control and other initiatives. Companies interested in attending need to register by November 12.
    (Pentagon wants to let industry know what it’s looking for with AI - Defense Department Chief Digital and AI Office)

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