New Year’s resolutions for 10 federal agencies

Cybsersecurity, customer service, even deep space exploration are on the list of federal agencies' goals in fiscal 2016-17.

The start of the new year often means personal resolutions for health and happiness, but that self-improvement isn’t limited to individuals.

The federal government has its own set of goals for 2017, and while they might not be as specific as losing weight or promising to stay in touch with friends, many of the bars set do involve self-improvement and a boost in communication.

Here’s a look at 10 fiscal 2016-17 priority goals for civilian agencies.

Office of Personnel Management

Cybersecurity Monitoring

OPM’s cybersecurity monitoring priority goal includes the use of multifactor authentication for 100 percent of its Personal Identity Verification (PIV) users by the end of 2017.

The agency also plans on continuing its work to encrypt High Value Asset databases and expanding its continuous security monitoring, the agency priority goal stated.

Homeland Security Department

Improve Federal Network Security

DHS acknowledged in one of its priority goals that  “there is no one ‘silver bullet’ for cybersecurity. The key is to install multiple layers of protection to best secure federal networks.”

While DHS had planned an annual Risk and Vulnerability Assessment for all cabinet-level agencies and one-third of non-cabinet-level agencies, a shift in priorities prevented DHS meeting that goal. But the agency said it plans to continue those assessments at roughly seven agencies per quarter starting in the first quarter of 2017.

“When increased FY 2017 funds are available the program will procure additional deployment kits to expand capacity and initiate hiring actions,” DHS said in its goal, adding that in the second half of fiscal 2017 the department plans on expanding the workforce and facilities, with new personnel completing their initial training by the fourth quarter.

Justice Department

Combating Cyber Threats

The Justice Department also plans to focus more on cybersecurity in the coming year.

In fiscal 2017, DOJ plans to identify private sector groups “representing key sectors for targeted outreach,” as well as evaluate at least two matters for designation under the Executive Order “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”

“By the end of fiscal 2017, DOJ will have collaborated with partner agencies in at least 2 other efforts to disrupt national security cyber threat actors,” the goal stated.

Veterans Affairs Department

Improve VA’s employee experience

After more than a year of targeted oversight and reform efforts, the VA continues to work on developing engaged leaders at all levels that inspire and empower all VA employees to deliver a “seamless, integrated, and responsive VA customer service experience.”

VA is hosting a Strategic Leadership Course in the first quarter of fiscal 2017, and is also working to reach about 3,000 leaders through its New Supervisors Essentials course.

General Services Administration

Negotiate leased office space at or below market rates

Like any renter, GSA wants to negotiate a lower lease price on its office space agreements in fiscal 2017.

The agency failed to meet its 55 percent goal in fiscal 2016 — it only leased below market rates for 49 percent of its transactions — but did succeed in getting 98 percent of its Public Buildings Service Lease Contracting Officers to Level 1 certification under a new Lease Certification Program.

“We will implement Phases II and III of our Lease Certification Program,” GSA said in its priority goal.

GSA’s Public Buildings Service said it would also spend fiscal 2017 working to get better market rates through improved negotiations and early upfront planning.

Commerce Department

Improve Patent Processing Time and Quality

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office wants no more than 14 months between the time it takes someone to apply for a patent and hear back from an examiner. The office didn’t meet that goal in fiscal 2016 due to a 1 percent increase in utility, plant and reissue (UPR) fillings.

“The USPTO will continue to monitor incoming patent application filings and will make any necessary adjustments to long-term planning projections to ensure progress towards its pendency targets,” the agency stated.

The office said in the beginning half of fiscal 2017 it plans on introducing revised quality metrics and completing a Post-Prosecution Pilot.

Department of Education

Increase college degree attainment in America

The DOE wants 48.4 percent of adults between the ages of 25-34 to have an associate degree or higher by the end of September 2017.

To do this requires a two-pronged effort:

  • Promoting evidence-based innovation and competition that lead to increased completion.
  • Fostering institutional and student accountability in tandem with better consumer awareness.

The Education Department says it is working toward the publication of an institutional program data report in early 2017, and enhancing the College Scorecard to include “cautionary flags that consumers should be aware of before deciding to enroll in an institution.”

Student loan counseling pilots are also scheduled for fiscal 2017.

Small Business Administration

Maximize small business participation in government contracting

The SBA said it plans to build on the momentum from this year’s record-setting performance for small business contracts.

To meet its fiscal 2016-17 goals, SBA said in the first quarter of 2017 alone, it plans on finalizing agency small business procurement goals for fiscal 2017, hold HUBZone Train-the-Trainer webinars, and lead three Small Business Procurement Advisory Council Meetings.

“Federal contracting with small businesses is a win-win,” the agency said. “Small businesses get the revenue they need to grow their businesses and create jobs, and the federal government gets the opportunity to work with some of America’s most innovative and nimble small businesses, often times with a direct line to the CEO.”


Human deep space exploration

What awaits humans as they go farther into space? NASA is hoping to find out with the help of its Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew vehicle.

The first flight “will be an uncrewed mission beyond low Earth orbit with the Orion capsule returning safely to Earth,” NASA said in its goal.

To meet its November 2018 launch, NASA plans on completing the software that allows communication between the engine controller and vehicle, so it’s ready for “hot fire testing” in the first quarter of fiscal 2017, and in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 completing a Systems Integration review to evaluate the readiness of its Exploration Ground Systems.

Housing and Urban Development

End homelessness

HUD wants to permanently end homelessness for the chronically homeless by 2017.

Beginning in early January 2017, HUD says it will complete the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative in two pilot communities. It is also working on the publication of Continuum of Care Program interim rule for public comment.

The CoC program is “designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.”

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