Agencies could have additional cyber defenses by year-end
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- The USPS said it started the fourth quarter of the fiscal year with a solid on-time delivery. The agency reports delivering more than 90% of first class mail on time for the first week of July. This is an increase of over 3% from the start of the third quarter of this fiscal year. As part of its 10-year plan, USPS is looking to meet a 95% on-time delivery goal, but will meet that goal in part by relaxing service standards for nearly 40% of first-class mail.
- For your good news record, the Department of Housing and Urban Planning supply store successfully weathered the pandemic, awarding contracts and amending agreements with contractors to allow them to continue working remotely. A new report from the HUD Inspector General found during a limited review of contracts that the procurement office was ready for telecommuting and could perform and review procurement activities through its online systems, which minimized the burden on procurement. challenges. HUD also minimized the danger of working in the office for contractors and the changes resulted in little to no disruption or increased costs.
- A new set of ratings measure how agencies anticipate procurement needs. The US Agency for International Development received the very first perfect score for meeting the 15 attributes of a successful trade forecast for industry. The Professional Services Council released its third annual scorecard where USAID was one of 15 high-rated agencies. PSC said USAID goes above and beyond to provide accurate and up-to-date information to its industry partners. Meanwhile, nine agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency, Naval Supply Systems Command, and Marine Corps Systems Command, received low marks for their communications efforts. The PSC reviewed procurement forecasts for 69 organizations and noted progress, but several documents remained incomplete, inconsistent or contained outdated information.
- The Department of Defense is interested in deep space communications for offensive and defensive purposes. The Pentagon recently awarded a small contract to Rhea Space Activity to create a spacecraft that will serve as a rapidly repositioning space antenna. Dubbed SCORPIUS, the satellite could aid the DoD as it begins to think about placing objects beyond the moon and even further into space.
- A new website will connect the Air Force and Space Force with potential industrial partners to bring more innovation. The Air Force Research Lab created the Air and Space Force Tech Connect website to provide innovators with access to events, opportunities, and commentary. Industry partners can use the site to submit ideas and technologies to service subject matter experts. The initiative is part of the Air Force’s Science and Technology 2030 strategy, which outlines a plan for upgrading Air Force and Space Force technologies and research management.
- The Department of Defense is reaching out to the public to hear concerns about “forever” chemicals having harmful effects. The Pentagon has hosted its first-ever online PFAS chemicals forum in what will be a series of pledges to improve communication and transparency around cleanup efforts. The chemicals are used to extinguish airplane fires, but have been shown to seep into drinking water and have carcinogenic effects. The Defense Ministry said it is hitting the 20% mark in conducting PFAS use assessments on bases. There are nearly 700 locations that have potentially used the chemicals.
- A bill in Congress would establish a consortium to help the Department of Homeland Security deal with cybersecurity risks and incidents. The Senate passed the National Cyber Security Readiness Consortium Act, which would bring together a group of nonprofit entities and academic institutions to provide DHS with technical assistance for cybersecurity capabilities. Members of the consortium would cover different geographic regions and work with DHS to train state and local governments in cybersecurity prevention and incident response. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the bill, which has no associated bill in the House.
- Agencies may have put in place significant cyber defenses by the end of the year. The federal government could have multi-factor authentication and encryption technologies fully deployed on its networks within six months. That’s according to a senior Biden administration official speaking with reporters on attributing a major hacking campaign to China over the weekend. The administration lobbied for improvements in federal cybersecurity after taking over in the immediate wake of the SolarWinds breach. Agencies are also prioritizing endpoint security, improved logging practices, cloud migration and upgraded security operations centers, according to the official.
- The Department of Energy is giving away $ 28 million to develop software that will run on some of the fastest computers in the world. The funding will support five research projects developing advanced software for DOE supercomputers. The prizes were awarded as part of the Department’s Advanced Computer Science Discovery Program. The DOE said the projects will help advance quantum information science and study chemical reactions for clean energy applications.
- Many agencies are adopting telecommuting more. But these provisions raise new questions about old labor policies. The Office of Personnel Management said it was responding to questions about pay in the locality and travel costs as agencies consider new remote working arrangements. They wonder if current travel advice discourages agencies that want to offer full-time telecommuting but have their employees occasional trips to the office. Agencies had until yesterday to submit new reintegration and workforce plans to the Office of Management and Budget for review. (Federal Information Network)
- The Coast Guard likely uses inaccurate teleworking data to make decisions about its workforce and IT investments. The Coast Guard has expanded the possibilities of telecommuting to more employees during the pandemic, like most agencies. But it relies on employees to self-declare their telecommuting status. The Government Accountability Office said the data is unreliable. And it’s not clear whether the agency is verifying employee telecommuting agreements. The Coast Guard managed to vaccinate nearly two-thirds of its staff in a four-month period earlier this year.
- A key Republican negotiator said a plan to bolster IRS law enforcement operations was not on the table for a $ 1,000 billion infrastructure plan. The Biden administration has proposed giving the IRS up to $ 80 billion over the next 10 years to narrow the growing tax gap between what taxpayers owe and what the agency collects. But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told CNN that this provision is no longer part of the bipartisan package. “In terms of IRS reform, or the IRS tax gap that was in the original proposal, that will no longer be in our proposal.” Portman said Senate Democrats will still continue to fund the IRS under a separate $ 3.5 trillion spending program that does not have Republicans backing.