Army looks to bring nuclear energy to its installations

To conduct its missions, the service wants to create energy that will reduce its dependence on off-site electricity providers.

  • The Defense Innovation Unit and the Army are joining forces to ramp up the service’s nuclear power capabilities. The Army is looking to develop and test a prototype of a nuclear reactor as part of the service’s push to bring nuclear energy to its installations. The service is heavily dependent on off-site electricity providers to obtain energy and conduct its missions. If successful, these micro-reactor power plants could be operational by 2030. The Army’s effort along with the Air Force’s microreactor pilot are paving the way for deployments of nuclear power technology across military installations.
  • Former senior government officials are joining the growing calls against Schedule F. The former officials from the Bush administration said civil service reform is necessary, as is holding federal employees accountable. But they said Schedule F is not the answer. The now-revoked policy from the Trump administration aimed to reclassify feds to make them easier to fire. In a letter to House and Senate leadership this week, the former officials are calling on Congress to pass more protections for government workers in national security and law enforcement. The letter to lawmakers comes in light of former President Trump’s plans to revive a policy akin to Schedule F if he’s reelected.
    (Ensuring the accountability of the federal civil service: An urgent call to action - Former Bush administration officials)
  • Nurses at the Department of Veterans Affairs are pointing to staffing shortages that are making it harder to treat veterans. The VA employs 122,000 nurses, which is the largest nursing workforce in the U.S. That is also a record high for the department. But the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) and National Nurses United (NNU) said the VA is leaving thousands of positions unfilled and spreading nurses thin. Irma Westmoreland is NNU’s vice president and a registered nurse who works at the VA medical center in Augusta, Georgia. She said VA nurses are being assigned more patients, which is contributing to burnout. “We feel that we are chronically understaffed in nursing, and that is erodes the patient care that we’re able to provide for our veterans," Westmoreland said.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has put the help wanted sign out for a new chief information officer. Beth Niblock, who has been CIO since July 2021, transitioned to a new role in May, the senior adviser for disaster management. One reason for the move is Niblock was a political appointee and HUD is moving the CIO's position back to a career job. The CIO job announcement closes June 13. Sairah Ijaz, who has been deputy CIO since March 2023, is the acting CIO until HUD hires a permanent career technology leader.
  • DoD's chief information officer is stepping down. John Sherman is moving on to a new role at Texas A&M University, where he will serve as dean of the Bush School of Government. Sherman has led the CIO's office since December 2021. Before that, he was the intelligence community's CIO. Defense officials said they still have not decided who will fill the DoD CIO role when Sherman departs at the end of this month.
  • Starting in August, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses will no longer be able to self-certify status for set-aside or sole source prime or subcontracts. The Small Business Administration's final rule issued yesterday requires companies to obtain approval through the SBA's Veteran Small Business Certification Program (VetCert). Without this certification, agencies and prime vendors will not receive socio-economic credit for contracting with these firms. Previously, SDVOSBs could self-certify they met the criteria, but Congress changed the requirements in the 2024 Defense authorization bill. The rule becomes effective August 5, but SBA is accepting comments through July 8 and reserves the right to withdraw the rule if it receives enough significant adverse concerns.
  • Senate Democrats are heightening their push to create better access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and medications. New legislation that the lawmakers introduced this week rolls together several previous bills aiming to expand the fertility treatments. Under the bill, there would be increased access to IVF coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, as well as coverage for veterans. The new bill comes in light of a growing push from federal employees to offer more fertility-related health benefits. The Senate is slated to vote on the Right to IVF Act next week.
    (Right to IVF Act - Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.))
  • The Defense Department is continuing its push to consolidate its purchasing for wireless services. A new memo from the DoD CIO told all DoD components that they will need to use the Navy’s new “Spiral 4” wireless contract vehicle to buy their mobile services for employees in the continental U.S. The Navy awarded seven separate indefinite, delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts last month, including to the big three wireless providers. All together, those IDIQs are worth up to $2.7 billion over the next decade.
  • The Postal Service is putting the first of its custom-built, next-generation delivery vehicles to work. USPS received its first Next-Generation Delivery Vehicles from the manufacturer Oshkosh Defense. They are the first of about 60,000 custom vehicles USPS will buy over the coming years. Electric vehicles will make up at least 75% of the next-generation fleet. USPS is sending its first round of vehicles to a large facility in Athens, Georgia.
    (First NGDVs delivered to the Postal Service - National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association )
  • The Marine Corps has opened a new center to focus on the future of war. The General Robert B. Neller Center for Wargaming and Analysis, named after the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, will help the service develop capabilities through experimentation, doctrine and policy review, and science and technology examination. The center will be maintained by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and will feature next-generation technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. The center is located on the Marine Corps University campus near Washington, D.C.

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