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Agriculture Department plants the equity seed | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge | #hacking | #aihp


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A federal advisory committee at the Agriculture Department will soon share some updates on its upcoming priorities. At a meeting open to the public, the committee plans to provide more details about USDA’s goals for its new Equity Commission. The commission was established as part of the White House’s efforts to boost equity across the federal…

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Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

  • A federal advisory committee at the Agriculture Department will soon share some updates on its upcoming priorities. At a meeting open to the public, the committee plans to provide more details about USDA’s goals for its new Equity Commission. The commission was established as part of the White House’s efforts to boost equity across the federal workforce. Registration for the public meeting is open until Aug. 4, and the committee will hold the seminar virtually on Aug. 5.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is updating critical cybersecurity standards. NIST is seeking the public’s input before it makes changes to the special publication for “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems.” Those are the same standards that form the basis of requirements in the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, the CMMC program. Other federal agencies also require their contractors to follow the NIST cybersecurity requirements. The Commerce agency is accepting comments on what it could change about the standards through mid-September.
  • The Postal Service is setting a higher bar for electrification of its vehicle fleet. USPS said it will now buy 25,000 electric vehicles through its 10-year next-generation fleet contract with Oshkosh Defense. That’s half of its total order under the contract. USPS also expects to buy more than 34,000 commercial off-the-shelf vehicles over a two-year period. Of the more than 84,000 total vehicles USPS expects to purchase, at least 40% of them will be electric. (Federal News Network)
  • It’s a tough time to be an Army recruiter. With just a little more than two months left in the fiscal year, the Army is only about halfway toward meeting its recruiting goal for 2022. Officials said that’s largely because of the tight labor market that’s also hitting private employers. But it’s likely to mean a smaller active duty Army in the near-term. In their 2023 budget, officials had already lowered their end strength goal from 485,000 soldiers to 473,000. Now, officials said, they’ll be lucky to keep 455,000 in the force. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs scraped plans for its last Electronic Health Record launch in fiscal 2022. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the agency is postponing the go-live of its new Oracle-Cerner EHR in Boise, Idaho, on July 23 as planned. “That was a decision made by the project team, in consultation with all of our expertise at VHA.” McDonough said. VA officials told the Senate VA Committee that the EHR is not yet ready for deployment at larger, more complex VA facilities because of system stability issues. The EHR has suffered 24 outages and 48 degradation events since the first go-live in October 2020. (Federal News Network)
  • More Coast Guard employees will now be able to get tuition assistance. The Coast Guard is expanding its tuition policy to include civilian employees for the first time since 2013. Employees can get up to $45,000 each year for career-related degrees or certifications. Those include a first or second associate degree or a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The program will pay costs up front so there will be no need for reimbursements. To use the program, civilian employees must remain employed with the Coast Guard for one full month for each credit hour.
  • Agencies just might want to consider lessons learned from the pandemic in upcoming office-space plans. Agencies have until Dec. 16 to tell the Office of Management and Budget how much office space they’ll need in the future. The upcoming “capital plans” for agencies will cover fiscal years 2024 through 2028. OMB told agencies their plans must align with the White House budget request, and reflect changes to telework and hybrid work as a result of the pandemic. (Federal News Network)
  • An investigation found a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee got COVID relief funds using false documents, then gave incorrect information to the inspector general’s office. The Interior Department’s IG office discovered the employee’s partner applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans on her behalf, based on her reported income from a travel business and driving for Uber. But the employee told the IG’s office she did not generate any clients for the travel business and never drove for Uber. The employee repaid the PPP loans in full, after investigators first spoke to her.
  • Critical federal IT systems would be subject to penetration testing requirements under new legislation in the House. A bill introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) would also have agencies report to Congress on their proactive cyber methods, such as continuous network monitoring. The legislation also tapped the new White House cyber director to smooth over any conflicts arising from overlapping agency authorities. Swalwell’s bill was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Reform, as well as the Armed Services Committee.

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