House Republicans want to know why certain White House appointees got an ethics pass

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  • Most federal employees have the day off tomorrow to celebrate the newest federal holiday, June 10th. President Joe Biden signed the law making it a public holiday. Since the date falls on a Saturday this year, the agencies will watch it on Friday, says the Human Resources Office. This is the first federal holiday since 1983, when Martin Luther King Day was declared one. (Federal Intelligence Network)
  • Top Republicans want to know why the government has granted ethics waivers to two policy officers in the Human Resources Office and in the Management and Budget Office. Alethea Predeoux is the Director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs for OPM. She previously worked for the American Federation of Government Employees. Celeste Drake is the new Made in America Director at OMB. She was a policy expert for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. Republicans say these officers will have too much contact with their former union employers.
  • An ongoing drama between the social security administration and the association of their administrative judges enters a new law. The agency gave in to an order from a federal arbitrator. She agreed to start new negotiations with the judges on a new employment contract. The union called the move a monumental victory. President Melissa McIntosh promised the union would negotiate in good faith. A sticking point was what the judges call anti-union decisions by a Trump-era committee, decisions that the SSA can no longer enforce.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs defended the largest proposed budget proposal ever for the agency. The Biden government calls for $ 270 billion for VA next year. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said this was mainly due to the backlog of veterans during the pandemic. The number of appointments at VA increased by almost 80% between March and May this year compared to the same period in 2020. The demand for home care is also growing. McDonough said the high demand is also driving VA’s recruiting. VA had nearly 32,000 open positions earlier this year. (Federal Intelligence Network)
  • The Space Force is taking a handful of pilots to ensure it becomes the country’s first digital service. Service officials said the military branch is using artificial intelligence to quickly process resumes. The Space Force is also keeping its service members to a higher standard of cyber literacy and creating digital environments where government and industry can work together. (Federal Intelligence Network)
  • The Space Force hopes to advance their future technology by enabling lower-level officers to develop responsible artificial intelligence. The goal is for O-3 officers to eventually train algorithms instead of lieutenants. Strategic advisor Reb Butler said every Space Force aviator has access to courses on topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital product management. Over 30% of the troops have already completed their initial training.
  • The Pentagon is finalizing a proposal for the establishment of a space-oriented National Guard division. General John Raymond, chief of space operations, said the report was complete but was awaiting a final review by the Secretary of Defense’s office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that creating a National Space Guard with 1,500 employees would cost about $ 100 million annually.
  • NASA is starting a new effort to review the agencies’ programs and see what barriers exist for historically underrepresented communities. The new initiative, called Mission Equity, will rely on public feedback to see how government resources can help advance equity and environmental justice. NASA has issued a request for information with a deadline of July 12th. The agency would like to receive comments on diversity in the STEM community, gaps in access to NASA grants, and how to reach out to marginalized communities.
  • Just in time for the upcoming deadline for modernizing government networks, NIST publishes new security guidelines. It’s been 12 years since the National Institute of Standards and Technology last updated their security guidelines for Internet Protocol Version 6 or IPv6. But with the 2025 OMB deadline approaching for 80% of all IP-based devices to migrate, NIST is releasing new guidelines, developing test environments, and a new best practices guide to help agencies successfully migrate to the network protocol. NIST’s Doug Montgomery said a lot has changed since 2009 and an update to the security guide will help authorities ask the right questions and set the framework for risk management.
  • Three major federal leaders are one step closer to being behind their desks in their respective agencies. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the nominations of Robin Carnahan as Administrator of the General Services Administration by vote; Chris Inglis will become National Cyber ​​Director at the White House and Jen Easterly will become Director of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The final step is for the entire Senate to vote on these nominations.
  • The Transportation Security Administration is updating a cybersecurity policy for pipeline operators following the Colonial Pipeline hack. Following the ransomware attack in May, TSA urged Pipelines to report cyber incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Now the TSA is working on a follow-up line of more detailed measures to reduce the likelihood and impact of similar cyberattacks. TSA pipeline security inspectors also recently completed cybersecurity training at the Idaho National Lab. The agency is under pressure after the colonial hack to improve its cybersecurity oversight.