Two more agencies have quietly received a financial boost to modernize technology systems. The Technology Modernization Fund Board awarded more than $24 million to two agencies under the radar. The Federal Aviation Administration is slated to receive more than $6 million to accelerate the modernization of over 100 applications used to deliver administrative and mission-support services. The Inspector General’s office in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to receive $18 million to implement zero trust tools around networking, identity management and security operations. The board now has invested in 29 projects since receiving $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.

(TMF Investments – Technology Modernization Fund)

The Postal Service is delaying the launch of a new pay system after data suggested it would lead to job cuts. The National Rural Letter Carriers Association reaches an agreement with USPS to postpone its new pay system, the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS). Deputy Postmaster General Doug Tulino said USPS will now launch the system on May 6 and will use this time to review rural-route evaluations, as well as any errors or missing data. Alicia Riley-Lucas, a rural carrier in La Plata, Maryland, said the proposed pay changes mean she would see an $8,000 pay cut for delivering on the same route. “It’s just disappearing from my paycheck, and I don’t have any say in that” Riley-Lucas said.

A major government contractor is settling claims that it charged the Defense Department twice for certain parts between 2008 and 2011. The Justice Department said L3 Technologies will pay almost $22 million dollars to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act. DoJ claims the company’s contract proposals included charging twice for low-cost common-stock items, such as nuts and bolts. At the same time, DoJ agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by L3 alleging breach of contract by the Defense Department for improperly prohibiting L3 from charging certain other costs. That settlement is worth more than $7.9 million.

The Energy Department’s response rate for the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is double the governmentwide rate. Encouraging Energy Department employees to take FEVS started with senior leaders, but it doesn’t end there.
“That just cascades the entire way down the leadership chain. All of the heads of our departmental elements, we do a little competition every week, we show what the results are and who’s doing better and who’s doing worse. And so it’s frequent and often touch points and communication,” DOE’s Chief Human Capital Officer Erin Moore said. Nearly 70% of Energy Department employees filled out the 2022 survey.

(‘Start with encouraging employees to speak up’: Lessons from a steady agency in Best Places to Work – Federal News Network)

The Department of Homeland Security is backing a legislative proposal to bolster one of its newer cybersecurity organizations. DHS is asking Congress to codify the Cyber Safety Review Board into law. DHS is also backing recommendations for the board to get consistent funding and add five full-time employees to support its operations. The board was established under a May 2021 executive order to review major U.S. cybersecurity incidents. Its first review focused on the open-source Log4j vulnerability. For future reviews, the board is also asking Congress for limited subpoena authority to ensure it can get the necessary information for its reviews of major incidents.

Some Department of Veterans Affairs employees may soon receive added leave and back pay. An arbitrator has ruled to reimburse federal workers in Oregon, who took time off during the height of the pandemic, because they had COVID-19 symptoms. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed a lawsuit in 2020, saying the VA had wrongfully required employees to use personal leave for the COVID-related time off. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) dismissed the VA’s appeal in the case. AFGE said it’s now working with the agency to determine which reimbursements fall under the scope of the FLRA decision.

(Backpay, Restored Leave for Over a Thousand VA Employees in Oregon – American Federation of Government Employees)

The Army has a new course for its contracting officers to help them navigate the process of buying technology. The Digital Foundation course kicked off in March to start training Army acquisition professionals in cloud, AI, data science and machine learning. It is part of an effort by the Army to increase the technical knowledge of contracting staff. Other efforts include using the cyber-excepted service and working with industry to understand and align with best practices. Army acquisition professionals are also looking at standing up a new software development group with experience in agile software development.

The Space Force needs to make better use of its commercial partners when it comes to space situational awareness. The Government Accountability Office wants the service to put more reliance on commercial sensors to monitor objects in space and assess the potential for collisions with satellites. As the number of objects and threats in space grows, GAO said the Space Force needs industry to help fill the information gaps. The GAO also recommends Space Force use its Unified Data Library to consolidate information from both government and industry sensors.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is out with a discussion draft of its Cybersecurity Framework 2.0. The documents released this week represent the “core” of the revamped framework. NIST said the preliminary draft is intended to promote discussion around concrete suggestions for improving the framework. The standards agency has focused on adding new considerations for cybersecurity governance and supply chain risk management as part of the 2.0 draft framework.

(Discussion Draft of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0 Core – National Institute of Standards and Technology)

The IRS is looking for tax professionals to join the IRS Advisory Council for a three-year term. The council is looking for those with experience in tax preparation for individuals, small businesses, large multi-national companies and tax-exempt organizations. The council holds at least four working sessions and one public meeting each year. The IRS is accepting applications through May 31.

(Request for Nominations – Federal Register )