Teleworking DoD employees are once again a target in the latest spending legislation from House appropriators. A policy rider in the fiscal 2025 defense spending bill would block any funding from going toward the costs of teleworking or remote working for defense employees and contractors. The GOP-led appropriations committee advanced the spending bill last week. The telework measure, however, may be unlikely to make it into the final appropriations package for fiscal 2025. Democrats, with a Senate majority, have remained largely in favor of federal telework. They say it fosters better workforce recruitment and retention.

(Fiscal 2025 Department of Defense appropriations bill – House Appropriations Committee)

Early signs are pointing in the right direction after some recent federal workforce reforms. The Office of Personnel Management’s initiatives over the last couple of years have included banning the use of salary history in hiring, creating a portal for internship openings and broadening eligibility for the Pathways Program. Larger impacts of those changes are likely still further down the road. But there are already some initially positive indications, especially for early-career recruitment: “It’s going to take a little more time. I do think what we’re seeing, though, is a renewed and increased interest in federal job opportunities by early-career talent,” OPM Acting Director Rob Shriver said.

The Energy Department wants to secure the future electric grid from cyber threats. Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) is working to set security expectations for using the cloud. Later this year, the CESER office will convene with big cloud service providers and the clean-energy sector to collaborate on cybersecurity requirements. The discussion comes amid growing threats to critical infrastructure, including the energy grid. Many renewable energy operators are relying on cloud computing for critical services.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to keep aging and disabled vets living independently. The VA is looking at how smart-home technologies and wearables like smartwatches can flag when aging and disabled veterans are having a medical emergency in their homes. Joseph Ronzio, VA’s deputy chief health technology officer, said the department is also taking steps to ensure veterans have a say as to who gets this data, and how it may be used. “Everyone nowadays has some smartness in their home, whether it’s a speaker, whether it’s light switches, whether it’s different types of lights or other physical devices — cameras, motion detectors that leave a digital service,” Ronzio said.

The Army has taken over the role of the Combatant Command Support Agent for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). The Department of the Air Force has served in this role since 2017. The shift mainly happened because the primary location of CYBERCOM operations is at Fort Meade in Maryland, where the Army has a significant presence. About 350 Air Force civilian employees in U.S. Cyber Command became Army civilians as part of the reshuffle. The Army will now provide administrative and logistical support to CYBERCOM. Congress mandated the transition as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Defense Department has signed a $248 million deal with Duke Energy to deliver solar power to five military bases in the Carolinas over the next 15 years. The power will come from two newly-built solar arrays in South Carolina, and DoD has agreed to buy all the electricity those facilities can generate. Defense officials said the project helps meet the government’s energy sustainability goals, and – in combination with on-base microgrids – makes the five bases more resilient against disruptions to off-site power supplies.

Three more agencies are getting nearly $30 million to accelerate their IT modernization projects. The governmentwide Technology Modernization Fund is granting $17 million to the Energy Department to update its human resources IT systems. The fund is also backing a Bureau of Indian Education project to modernize school websites for tribal communities. The Federal Election Commission is also getting funding to improve online services for political campaign filers.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is drafting a new cybersecurity strategy. Transportation officials told the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the agency will finalize the plan by September. GAO said DOT needs a strong cyber risk management plan to address threats to its data and systems. The congressional auditor is also urging Transportation officials to take a closer look at their cyber workforce needs.

The Space Force’s first chief technology and innovation officer, Lisa Costa, has officially retired from federal service. At the Space Force, Costa was responsible for developing strategies and policies that advanced science and technology efforts across the service. She also spearheaded the Unified Data Library project, a repository that collects space situational awareness data from military and commercial sources. Prior to her current role, she served as the chief information officer at U.S. Special Operations Command. There is no information yet as to where Costa will be working next.

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