Children at this Air Force base appear to have higher rate of rare brain cancer

Concerns were raised in 2022 about the cases of a rare type of pediatric brain cancer among children living at Cannon Air Force Base.

  • Children at a New Mexico Air Force base appear to have a higher rate of a rare brain cancer. A new Air Force study found that there is no significant increase in overall brain cancer among children at Cannon Air Force base, but children living at the base are diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer more often when compared to children living at other bases and in the general civilian population. Cannon Air Force base leadership raised concerns in 2022 about the occurrences of a rare type of pediatric brain cancer among children living at the base, resulting in researchers spending two years conducting the study.
  • Could AI make airport security screening more efficient? The Transportation Security Administration is developing an AI tool for detecting guns and other prohibited items hidden inside luggage. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said it could help take some of the burden off security screening staff. “We're going to see some days this summer that might have 3.1 million passengers, and you figure 3.1 million means well over six million images that officers are reviewing on a given day,” Pekoske said Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee. “That's a lot. What we find in our testing is that the constant review of images can be very fatiguing.” The AI screening tool is not deployed yet. Pekoske told the House Appropriations Committee that TSA is working with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate to advance the technology.
  • The Office of Management and Budget has produced a progress report on governmentwide digital transformation efforts. In the six months since OMB issued the digital experience memo, agencies have inventoried 10,000 federal websites, named a digital experience delivery lead and taken more advantage of tools and training to change how they deliver services. OMB said in a progress report on this 10-year roadmap that agencies will now identify opportunities to improve content for the most common questions asked and deliver digital self-service options in new ways. Additionally, the new Digital Experience Council will convene experts from across the government to bring a more coordinated approach to digital experience delivery.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is setting stricter validation requirements for enrollees in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Starting in this fall's Open Season, agencies will be required to validate a sample of at least 10% of their FEHB enrollments. The requirements apply to both Self-Plus-One and Self-and-Family plans. The changes from OPM come after the Government Accountability Office found that ineligible FEHB enrollees may be costing up $1 billion annually. Beginning next year, feds will also have to provide documentation for any family members they want to add to their plans during Open Season.
  • More and more federal workers are getting representation from the American Federation of Government Employees. The federal union grew by 5.5% last year, which it said made 2023 by far its best year for organizing in decades. It also makes AFGE the fastest growing major union in the country. AFGE credits the rapid growth to a change in its organizing model. And for 2024, the union said it has already surpassed 300,000 members.
    (AFGE ranks first as fastest growing large union in U.S. - American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The federal government is stepping up efforts to be a more attractive employer for spouses of military service members overseas. The departments of Defense and State are looking to streamline the process for federal employees to continue their careers when their active-duty military spouses deploy abroad. They are looking to shorten the process of becoming a Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas. That includes simplifying work between the two departments to sign off on overseas housing and residential security requirements. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said these efforts will allow military spouses living abroad to continue their federal careers with as little disruption as possible. “With having to move from post to post every couple of years, maintaining meaningful employment can be difficult for military spouses — even more challenging when you are assigned overseas,” Hicks said.
  • The IRS said it has answered more phone calls from taxpayers in need of help, as the agency handled a million more calls this filing season and three million more calls than in 2022. The IRS exceeded its customer service goals for the second year in a row and more than 85% of calls were answered. That’s compared to only 15% of callers getting through to the agency in 2022. In terms of workload, the IRS received more than 100 million individual tax returns this year and issued more than $200 billion in refunds.
  • Agencies may face a new category on the annual small business report card. Under a new bill that the House Small Business Committee passed yesterday, the Small Business Administration would factor in the number of small firms winning a contract for the first time when determining annual grades. The committee also passed two other small business contracting bills. One of them would require agencies to offer more specific reasons when they cancel a small business contract and help the small business identify similar opportunities. The bills now head to the full House for a vote.
  • The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency is getting a new director. Richard Muller is taking the reins at IARPA. He previously led the Department of Energy’s Quantum Systems Accelerator and managed the Advanced Microsystems Group at Sandia National Laboratories. Muller replaces Catherine Marsh, who is retiring after more than 20 years in the intelligence community. During her tenure, IARPA launched 27 new research programs.
  • The Navy is projected to miss its recruitment goal again this year. The service will most likely miss that goal by about 6,700 sailors. In 2023, the service missed its recruiting goal by about 7,500 new sailors. The other services, however, are projected to meet their recruitment targets this year. The Navy has introduced a series of reforms to attract new sailors, including allowing potential recruits to enlist without a high school diploma or GED.
    (Navy on track to miss its recruiting goal again - House Armed Services Committee)

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