GSA sees record spending through its contracts for IT products and services

(11/16/23) - In today's Federal Newscast: The IRS' new CIO makes a move with vast experience and success modernizing legacy technology. Several key Biden admini...

  • You might say the IRS' new CIO has yottabytes of experience modernizing legacy technology. Rajiv Uppal has spent the last five years helping to dig the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services out of a mound of technical debt, moving more than half of all 200 legacy systems to the cloud. The director of the Office of Information Technology and chief information officer for CMS since 2018, is now taking that success to the IRS. Uppal, who will start in January, replaces Nancy Sieger, who moved into a new role at main Treasury in March. Uppal joins the IRS as it ramps up its technology and services modernization efforts through the $80 billion it received from the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said its new Electronic Health Record has not seen a total outage in more than six months. VA’s new health record from Oracle-Cerner still faces problems. The system still isn't meeting a standard in the VA’s contract to run incident-free at least 95% of the time. Kurt DelBene is VA's assistant secretary for Information and Technology and its chief information officer. He said that Oracle-Cerner only met its incident-free time goal in four of the past 10 months. “To be sure, we're still experiencing partial system failures that impact the users,” DelBene said. In a recent survey, 58% of VA employees said the EHR wasn’t always reliable when they needed it, and that downtime was an issue.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is detailing its plans for artificial intelligence. CISA is increasing AI training and education across its workforce, while targeting AI expertise in its recruiting efforts. That is according to the agency’s AI roadmap released this week. It stakes out CISA’s role in managing risks at the nexus of AI, cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. CISA said it will use AI to advance its cybersecurity mission. But the agency is also focused on the threats posed by AI, and it plans to work with critical infrastructure to ensure the technology is deployed safely and securely.
  • Agencies have a new deadline to report their latest numbers for hiring military spouses. Agencies should detail the numbers of positions, applications and appointments they made over the last year of military spouses. The goal is to assess the effectiveness of the military spouse hiring authority that is available for agencies to use. The Office of Personnel Management asks agencies to submit that information by Dec. 29.
  • Spending on technology products and services through the General Services Administration's contracts hit an all-time high in fiscal 2023. GSA's Federal Acquisition Services saw almost $38 billion in business volume on IT alone last year. Of that, agencies spent $23 billion on technology through the schedules program. Another $12 billion on IT came through governmentwide acquisition contracts like Alliant 2 and 8(a) STARS 3. GSA said spending on IT products and services through its contracts has grown by 42% over the last five years.
  • Several key Biden administration nominees are moving forward in the Senate. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday favorably reported the nomination of Harry Coker to be the next National Cyber Director. The committee also voted to advance Jeff Rezmovic to serve as the Department of Homeland Security’s chief financial officer and Suzanne Summerlin to be general counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
  • Virginia lawmakers are calling for an investigation into a decision to move the FBI’s headquarters to Greenbelt, Maryland. Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and nine House members are making that request. They are asking the inspector general of the General Services Administration to conduct the probe, after FBI Director Christopher Wray raised concerns about GSA’s decision-making process. A panel of career GSA and FBI employees first recommended Springfield, Virginia as the site of a new headquarters, but a former GSA executive made the final decision and went with Greenbelt.
    (Letter to GSA OIG - Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.))
  • Military service members can now open Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts. They will be able to have up to $5,000 from their paychecks diverted to a tax-free account to pay for dependent care services, like preschool, before-or after-school programs and daycare. Eligible service members and civilians have until Dec. 11 to sign up at The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account will go into effect on Jan. 1.
  • Applications are now open to nominate a federal employee for the 2024 Service to America Medals, or Sammies. The annual awards program, run by the Partnership for Public Service, recognizes career public servants for their exceptional work in government. The deadline for 2024 Sammies nominations is Jan. 5. The Partnership will then review the submissions and announce the Sammies finalists during Public Service Recognition Week in May.
    (Sammies nominations - Partnership for Public Service)

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