DARPA kicks off its 10-year plan to create a ‘thriving lunar economy’

  • A senior leader at the Genderal Services Administration is returning to the private sector. Sonny Hashmi, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, is leaving after three years. Hashmi’s last day will be December 29. FAS Deputy Commissioner Tom Howder will serve as acting commissioner until a new one is named. Hashmi will be heading back to the private sector, but it is unclear where he will land. In an email to staff, obtained by Federal News Network, Hashmi said that the timing is right to make the move as FAS made significant progress with several initiatives over the last several years.
  • Feds teleworking overseas got a pay raise. Now the State Department is honoring an employee who made it happen. Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETOs) missed out on locality pay, but saw a pay boost to correct for that in the National Defense Authorization Act. Most DETOs are the spouses of military and Foreign Service officers. Michelle Neyland, a congressional adviser for the department’s Bureau of International Affairs, won this year’s Eleanor Dodson Tragen Award for her work bringing this pay issue to Congress. “Everybody who I introduced this pay inequity to across State Department, as soon as they learned more about it, immediately said, ‘Well, how can we fix that?'" she said.
  • The Air Force has disciplined 15 people for a massive leak of classified information by a member of the Massachusetts National Guard. Airman Jack Teixeira is already in custody awaiting trial for sharing secrets in online chat forums. But Air Force officials said more than a dozen other personnel – from staff sergeants to a colonel – failed to deal with suspicious behavior leading up to those illegal disclosures. An IG investigation also found members of Teixeira’s unit had wide latitude to access and print classified documents without any oversight.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is rolling out a new cybersecurity tool for agencies. CISA today unveiled new security standards for Gmail and other Google Workspace products. The idea is to prevent security incidents by using common configurations across widely used services. CISA has already published configurations for Microsoft 365 products. “With the addition of these baselines, we cover the vast majority of business collaboration suite of software as a service offerings that everyone uses and relies on to conduct their work every single day,” said Chad Poland, director of cyber shared services at CISA.
  • Federal agencies saw real progress in fiscal 2023 in their goal to achieve zero emissions by 2030. The White House said agencies ordered over 54,000 zero-emission vehicles and began installing more than 26,000 charging ports last year. The 26,000 ports will add to the 7,000 already in use across government. With agreements in 16 states for federal facilities to use clean energy, the Energy Department began implementing a new clean electricity grid on 700,000 acres of agency land. The administration also said federal buildings have already cut emissions by more than 7% since 2020 and, as of 2022, have achieved a 39% overall reduction from 2008 levels.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is responding to an increase in cyber attacks targeting hospitals and healthcare systems. Under a new cybersecurity strategy, HHS will establish voluntary cybersecurity performance goals for the healthcare sector. The agency will also consider how to incorporate those goals into existing regulations and programs that will help inform the creation of enforceable cybersecurity standards. The agency also plans to work with Congress to increase funding to help hospitals adopt stronger cybersecurity measures.
  • A thriving lunar economy might be landing over the next decade. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has a new study and is seeking input from 14 companies on what investments would be needed to have a booming economy on the Moon. Over the next seven months, DARPA and selected companies will work together to design new integrated system-level solutions, including communications, navigation and timing. The agency said the program will change how the civil space community thinks about commercial activity on and around the Moon.
  • Agency chief data officers are getting more personnel to tackle their work. That is one of the takeaways from a survey led by a governmentwide council of federal CDOs. More than a quarter of respondents said their agency in 2023 had a central data team with up to five full-time employees. Less than a third of respondents said they had that kind of staffing in 2022. A majority of agency CDOs who took the survey said they have been in government for 10 years or longer.
  • The Small Business Administration is changing the way it decides which businesses qualify as small. SBA is proposing a new size standard methodology that plans to make two major changes. The first is using a disparity ratio between small business contract obligations and industry receipts to calculate the size standard. The second change would use data from the federal procurement data system to determine percentage industry factors as part of the size evaluations. SBA said these changes will refine and improve its analysis of federal contracting data used in the evaluation of industry size standards. Comments on the proposed changes are due by February 9.

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