Senate confirms first woman to serve on Joint Chiefs of Staff

In today's Federal Newscast: In an effort to avoid problems, a Senate bill looks to mandate the use of an AI playbook. An industry association is calling for th...

  • A Department of Veterans Affairs office that investigates whistleblower retaliation cases said VA leadership is acting on more of its recommendations. When the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) recommended discipline in whistleblower retaliation cases, management took action 68% of the time in fiscal 2021. That is now up to 92% percent. But House lawmakers said VA employees can take their complaints to the Office of Special Counsel and see better results. "I'm still left wondering if OAWP's juice is worth the squeeze," said Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va.), who leads the House VA committee’s investigations subcommittee.
  • The Office of Personell Management hit a major IT modernization milestone last week. OPM moved its first legacy application to the cloud at the end of October. Guy Cavallo, OPM's chief information officer, said that success sets the stage for improvements in retirement services. Cavallo said OPM recently kicked off a new pilot to improve the processing of retirement applications. "For every federal employee in this room, you want us to be successful. You want to see us improve retirement services and move from a paper-based world to a digital world," Cavallo said. Speaking at the ELC conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania earlier this week, Cavallo said this pace of change will only increase heading into the new year.
    (OPM CIO Guy Cavallo - ACT-IAC ELC panel discussion )
  • The nominee for a top Department of Homeland Security position wants to get DHS’ financial house in order. DHS’ financial management has been on the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List since the department was created in 2003. That is something Jeff Rezmovic, the nominee to serve as DHS’ chief financial officer, wants to change once and for all. “We've got to get off the GAO High Risk List,” he said during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "If confirmed as the department CFO, among my greatest priorities, we'll be moving forward with financial systems modernization," Rezmovic said.
  • Senior leaders in government are receiving high recognition in this year’s Presidential Rank Awards. President Biden has named 232 career federal leaders who will take home the prestigious awards for 2023. The Presidential Rank Awards recognize individuals who have made extensive contributions to public service. The Office of Personnel Management evaluates nominees each year and sends its recommendations to the president for final selection. The 2023 awardees come from 31 federal agencies.
  • Lawmakers are urging the House Ways and Means Committee to hold a hearing over possible reforms to Social Security. Earlier this year, Congress members introduced a bill to revoke the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. The two provisions reduce, or in some cases eliminate, Social Security benefits for close to three million federal retirees. The lawmakers say the committee should consider taking up the bill to eliminate those provisions. The legislation has 298 cosponsors in the House.
  • An industry association is calling for the streamlining of software compliance requirements from the federal government. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) wants federal leaders to figure out how to create reciprocity between the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and the Cyber Security Model Certification (CMMC). BSA's appeal comes as the Office of Management and Budget recently issued new draft guidance around FedRAMP and DoD is finalizing CMMC requirements, which are expected in the coming months. This request was also one of four focus areas in BSA's new procurement agenda for 2024. BSA's other three priorities include funding for IT modernization, prioritizing the use of commercial IT and requiring multi-cloud services for agencies.
  • The Defense Department has a new artificial intelligence strategy to guide it through the ever-evolving technology. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks released the strategy yesterday, which focuses on an agile approach to AI adoption, and promotes speed, delivery, learning and responsible development. The strategy creates a foundation for data, analytics, and AI usage and adoption across the Defense Department. An implementation strategy will follow in the coming months.
    (DoD unveils new AI strategy - Defense Department)
  • Amid ongoing delays, the Senate confirmed three military leaders yesterday, but still has more than 370 nominations to go. David Allvin is now the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Chris Mahoney is the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. Admiral Lisa Franchetti was confirmed as the Chief of Naval Operations, and will be the first woman to serve in that role, as well as being the first woman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the unprecedented delay to confirm these leaders has hurt military readiness.
  • The federal government has a playbook to keep artificial intelligence tools from running amok. Now a bipartisan bill would mandate its use across agencies. The Federal AI Risk Management Act would require agencies to adopt a framework on the subject from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The bill tasks the Office of Management and Budget with leading that effort by providing guidance to agencies. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced the bill.

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