A federal agency was hit by hackers who took advantage of outdated software. Thus, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is reminding agencies — and the public — to patch their software after an unidentified federal agency was hacked earlier this summer. Not much is known about the suspected hackers, but they were able to take advantage of older versions of Adobe software to compromise two of the agency’s servers between June and July. CISA said the hackers were trying to map out the agency’s network, but there is no evidence they were able to steal data or go any further than the initial intrusion.
There is less than a week left to take advantage of Open Season. Not every enrollee in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program necessarily needs to make a change to his or her health, vision and dental plan options for next year. But at the very least, federal health experts say it is wise to learn how your plan will change in 2024. Updates to Medicare Part D, expanded coverages and increasing premiums are just a few reasons that experts encourage enrollees to weight their costs and benefits. Enrollees have until 11:59 p.m. on Monday to make their final health care selections. And if feds do nothing, their current options will roll over into 2024.
The Office of Management and Budget has named four more high-impact service providers (HISPs). On the second anniversary of the customer experience executive order, OMB continues to expand the plumbing that helps agencies improve how they serve citizens. Jason Miller, the deputy director for management at OMB, said the four new HISPs join the 35 others across government. "The Indian Health Service, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency and the International Trade Administration, so we are growing that infrastructure," Miller said. Miller added that the results from these CX efforts are proven out in part by federal agency satisfaction scores increasing by 5% over the last two years.
(OMB Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller - Federal News Network)
A Republican senator is making a ‘naughty list’ of federal agencies with the most under-utilized real estate. "Use it or lose it." That is what Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is telling agencies with excess real estate. “While it’s not the Night Before Christmas quite yet, there’s not a creature stirring – not even a mouse – in the halls across this city," Ernst said. Ernst released new federal building data from the Government Accountability Office that finds the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration both had a 7% average utilization rate at their headquarters in early 2023.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is set to get a new leader, as the Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse as the next DIA director. He will take over for Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who has served as director since 2020. Kruse is currently the adviser for military affairs to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. He had previously served as director for defense intelligence at the Pentagon and as the director for intelligence at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
As skills-based hiring ramps up, agencies now have access to two new training courses. They will cover how to design an overall candidate assessment strategy, and how to assess applicants based on their skills. The effort from OPM comes after a 2020 executive order that called on agencies to start focusing more on applicants' skills, rather than their education. Agencies can access the new courses on demand in OPM's virtual training center.
DoD’s ongoing implementation of its new electronic health record (EHR) is still playing a big role in the military services’ recruiting challenges. But leaders told the Senate yesterday they hope to have some solutions ironed out by next February. That is when a working group the deputy secretary of Defense appointed is expected to finish its recommendations. Officials said the problems do not have much to do with the EHR itself. The main issue is the new system, MHS Genesis, which gives the military much more information about recruits’ medical history than they have had in the past. Under current policies, once recruiters know about past health issues, they need to pursue waivers to let prospective members continue the recruiting process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to bring new hires in more quickly, but federal watchdogs are finding gaps in how VA screens candidates for health care jobs, including flagging those with a drug-related criminal history. The Government Accountability Office found more than 12,000 employees at the Veterans Health Administration with “indications of controlled substance-related criminal histories.” In a sample of 300 employees, GAO confirmed 50 of them had one or more controlled substance-related felony convictions.
The military did not meet its recruitment goals this year. At a hearing yesterday, the services told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel that recruiting efforts fell well short, but they do have a plan to fix it. In 2023, the Army and the Navy were in the worst position among military services. The Navy is 12,000 sailors smaller than it was in the previous year and the Army has 30,000 fewer service members. During the hearing, the military services committed to providing more information on how they track medically disqualified applicants, which is one of the main barriers to recruitment.
Agencies must now consider climate-related risks, along with natural hazard risks, as part of their property asset management and investment decisions. New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget tells agencies to create climate vulnerability assessments that answer four questions, including whether architecture and engineering changes would help with the buildings' or property's resilience. OMB's guidance also includes climate-smart infrastructure technical best practices for federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure. These include consensus-based building and energy codes, and high-performance standards. The guidance implements the Disaster Resiliency Planning Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last December.
The Defense Department is trying to make requesting public information a little easier. DoD is now updating some administrative aspects of how it implements the Freedom of Information Act. Starting next year, U.S. Cyber Command, Southern Command and Space Command will have their own authorized FOIA Requester Service Centers. The final rule also updates organizational names and clarifies language around DoD’s participation in dispute resolution. The National Archives and Records Administration will govern the alternative dispute resolution process.
(DoD updates Freedom of Information Act procedures - Federal Register)