GAO blames staffing shortages for agencies’ failures to battle cyber attacks

In today's Federal Newscast: Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has lifted his abortion-driven hold on military promotions. Job satisfaction at the Homeland Securit...

  • The wait is finally over for more than 400 service members. The Senate confirmed 425 military nominations after Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) lifted his months-long hold on those promotions, initiated because of the senator's opposition to the pentagon's abortion policy. The Defense Department said on Tuesday afternoon that Tuberville’s blockade will continue to impact at least 11 officers who are up for promotion to the level of four-star general. Those key senior positions include the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, as well as the commander of Northern Command and the commander of Cyber Command.
  • Another CIO is on the move. Andre Mendes, the Commerce Department's chief information officer, is retiring from federal service after 14 years. Mendes will become the new CIO of Tarrant County, Texas. Mendes has been Commerce CIO for more than four years, coming to the headquarters in 2019 , after being CIO for the International Trade Administration bureau. His last day is Dec. 31. It is unclear who will be the interim CIO. In a post on LinkedIn, Mendes said that the decision to leave Commerce was a combination of a great opportunity and the ability to live full-time in Texas instead of commuting weekly to Washington.
  • The Postal Service is facing questions about what a major overhaul of its delivery network will mean for employees and customers. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is asking USPS whether the network consolidation will have an impact on its total workforce headcount. USPS said no layoffs will occur because of these network changes, but some jobs, and thus employees, could be at risk of being relocated. Peters is also asking USPS if it anticipates these changes will have any impact on customer service. The American Postal Workers Union is asking USPS many of the same questions.
  • Some federal employees will soon be able to see what it is like to work at another agency. A new rotation program is offering temporary assignments to feds currently working in IT and cyber. The six-month to one-year rotations aim to both develop skills and encourage retention of cyber employees in government. The retention efforts comes as more than a third of federal cybersecurity positions are vacant. A new platform from the Office of Personnel Management lets agencies advertise openings in the rotation program. Going forward, agencies will coordinate an open application period each November, but can still post openings any time of the year.
  • Agencies continue to face challenges in responding to cybersecurity incidents. Staffing shortfalls are one of the biggest impediments agencies face in combating cyber incidents. That is according to a new Government Accountability Office report, which reviewed the incident response capabilities of the 24 big Chief Financial Officers Act agencies. Sixteen agencies told GAO they need more employees to carry out incident-response activities. And 20 agencies do not meet IT logging requirements set by the White House, which they attributed to a lack of funding, as well as technical challenges.
  • The Department of Homeland Security normally ranks near the bottom of the best places to work in government, but for 2023, that may be turning around. Engagement and satisfaction are improving among DHS employees, according to the results of this year's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). DHS employees reported a 3% increase in questions on their engagement and morale at work. For job satisfaction, DHS' scores jumped up by six points, which is three times the governmentwide average increase.
    (2023 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results - Department of Homeland Security)
  • A federal watchdog is bringing in new leadership for its work in science and technology. The Government Accountability Office has hired a former research nonprofit official, Sterling Thomas, as its next chief science officer. He will lead a growing portfolio of work on GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team. Thomas held the same title at his previous job at Noblis, a not-for-profit science, technology, and strategy organization. His research work there included using artificial intelligence to detect sophisticated cyberattacks.
    (GAO Names New Chief Scientist - Government Accountability Office)
  • Members of the House want to create more pathways for cyber talent to find a job in government. The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Expansion Act, introduced this week, would create a registered apprenticeship program at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Under the proposed bill, an apprenticeship could turn into a job at CISA or another entity that contributes to national cybersecurity. And the legislation would also create a cybersecurity training program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Under a new bill in Congress, the Defense Department would have the authority and resources to implement cutting-edge technologies more quickly and easily. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Joni Ernst's (R-Iowa) new JADC2 Implementation Act, aims to cut the timeline of putting these key technologies into the hands of warfighters. One way the bill would do that, is to require the chief digital and artificial intelligence officer to operate a factory-based approach for software development, that allows for continuous deployment of tools from multiple vendors.
    (Lawmakers introduce legislation to advance JADC2 - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.))

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