Weekly Roundup, October 1-5, 2018
OPM Director Pon Resigns. Government Executive reports: “The White House on Friday announced that Margaret Weichert, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is now leading the Office of Personnel Management as its acting director. . . The announcement came as OPM’s Senate-confirmed director, Jeff Pon, abruptly announced his resignation on Friday, an agency spokesman confirmed.”
Infrastructure Permitting Steps Forward. Government Executive reports: “In line with one of its cross-agency priority goals, the Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday sent agency heads guidance on more “coordinated, predictable and transparent” tracking of infrastructure project permitting decisions. . . The Sept. 26 memo from budget director Mick Mulvaney asked agencies to set up a central portal to which they will report on progress of environmental reviews.”
Giving the President Reorg Authority? Government Executive reports: “A Senate committee on Wednesday advanced a measure to ease the process for President Trump to reorganize the federal government, but lawmakers included a provision to ensure any such reforms would require bipartisan support.”
Standardizing Grant Data. Government Executive reports: “The House on Wednesday approved by voice vote a bill to require 26 agencies to work with the Office of Management and Budget to establish governmentwide standards for information reported by grant recipients so that the data can be centralized on a public website.” The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill that day as well, sending it to the Senate floor for final action.
Workforce Modernization Progress Updates. Federal News Radio reports: “The Trump administration is still largely in “fact-finding” mode, but it’s listing small, incremental progress toward a broad and very detailed effort to transform the federal workforce and the framework that governs and manages it. . . . According to the latest update on Performance.gov, the administration has spent the past three months of the summer searching for best practices, working with low-scoring agencies on employee engagement and identifying specific executives to take the lead on individual workforce initiatives.”
AI and the Federal Workforce. A column by Jeff Neal for Federal News Radio asks: “Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Many Federal Workers?” He says: “The short answer is yes. But there is a lot more to it than that, so let’s take a look at what artificial intelligence (AI) may do to and for the federal workforce.”
A New One-Stop for Veterans. FCW reports: “VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced at a recent Senate hearing, on Veterans Day a new VA.gov website is launching. Instead of serving as a corporate front door for the VA organization, the reimagined VA.gov will be a portal for veterans to access a full suite of services available to them.”
Michael J. Keegan
Senate OKs creation of new DHS cyber agency. It’s cybersecurity awareness month, so Congress decided to give the Department of Homeland Security something nice to share. On Oct. 3, the Senate (finally) passed its own version of legislation that would rename and elevate the National Protection and Programs Directorate. The House passed its version of the bill in December 2017. The meat of the bill is actually quite thin, especially when compared to the more-ambitious vision laid out by officials two years ago. It changes NPPD’s name to the moderately less clunky Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and emphasizes that this is the go-to agency for IT security and civilian cyber issues.
VA.gov to relaunch as front door to benefits, services. Amid a barrage of daily headlines about turnover, disarray and mismanagement, the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to reinvent itself as an agile agency focused on customer service. The effort is paying off – without much in the way of publicity, a unified VA services website at Vets.gov has attracted 40,000 daily users and spurred a 700 percent increase in online appointment scheduling.
IoT poses special cyber risks. Internet-connected devices pose special risks for federal agencies, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is developing guidance to meet the need.
Report: China infiltrated supply chain of top server supplier. An explosive story from Bloomberg Businessweek alleges that Chinese government agents planted tiny chips in servers widely used in government and industry – but so far firms are denying reports.
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Next Week on The Business of Government Hour: Conversations with Alan Thomas, Commissioner, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) What is the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) doing to make its operations: Easy, Efficient, and Modern? How is FAS delivering best value mission support to customer agencies? What is FAS doing to promote smarter buying and the efficient use of technology across the federal government? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions with Alan Thomas, Commissioner, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).
Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED.
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