IG: Water quality and mold can be a problem when employees return to federal buildings



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  • Add water quality and mold to the challenges the General Services Administration is likely to face in managing federal buildings in 2022. GSA Inspector General said reduced occupancy in federal buildings means fewer workers flush and use water fountains, which could lead to potential degradation of water quality, including mold growth and lead and copper contamination. This is already in addition to the estimated steadily increasing costs of deferred building maintenance, which amounts to approximately $ 2.5 billion. The IG highlighted these and other ongoing issues as part of its annual report on management challenges to Congress.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs needs more staff, management attention and tools to monitor the performance of its facilities. This is the last recommendation of the Government Accountability Office on VA’s aging real estate portfolio. VA owns over 5,600 buildings and leases another 1,700 facilities. VA estimated that it needed at least $ 22 million to correct maintenance issues at its facilities. But the GAO said VA did not have enough staff to manage its assets. This delayed projects and made it difficult for VA to manage ongoing initiatives. The GAO also said that VA lacks measurable goals for how building conditions are expected to improve over time.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is turning to artificial intelligence to improve patient care. The VA is testing whether artificial intelligence can help clinicians review medical images, help veterans find services online, and allow the agency to proactively contact patients about their mental health. The VA adopts a new AI strategy that describes how the agency can implement this technology while protecting the sensitive data of veterans. Gil Alterovitz, director of VA’s National AI Institute, said AI enables patients and clinicians to better understand the wealth of data available to them. “It can essentially increase the ability of clinicians and patients to identify health problems. “(Federal Information Network)
  • The Department of Defense recently completed a classified review that will judge where future resources will be allocated. The Pentagon’s Global Posture Review is mostly kept under wraps in order to let rivals guess. However, the Defense Ministry has released some details, mainly that it will devote more resources to the Indo-Pacific region. This is because the United States views China as their main stimulus threat. These resources include improved regional access, more infrastructure in Australia and the Pacific Islands, and planning for more rotary aircraft deployments in the region. The review comes at a key inflection point as the military ends most of its major operations in the Middle East.
  • Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper is suing the Pentagon, claiming officials are interfering with the publication of his upcoming briefs. The trial, filed Sunday, said Esper has been negotiating with the DoD’s pre-release and security review office for nearly six months over the details the Pentagon wants to redact from the book. Esper claims the manuscript never contained any classified information in the first place and that the redactions violate his First Amendment rights. The lawsuit also suggests that Defense officials selectively disclosed portions of the unpublished manuscript to the media. (Federal Information Network)
  • The Coast Guard has taken steps to hang on to its cybersecurity practitioners. Under the authority of its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard updates the incentives for detention. They apply to employees with unique or exceptionally high qualifications. Incentives may apply to individuals and groups at the discretion of supervisors. Depending on recipient cybersecurity certifications, retention incentives range from 10% to 15% of base salary. They are not automatic. Supervisors must provide proof that people are about to leave.
  • The Office of Naval Research hopes to reinvent its approach to national security by partnering with Stanford University. The office is partnering with the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, which is dedicated to solving problems at the intersection of commercial technologies such as artificial intelligence and instruments of national power. The work of the Gordian Knot Center continues a more than seven-decade partnership between ONR and Stanford.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said Oklahoma will not be getting a pass for the military’s COVID vaccination mandate. The state governor had asked the Pentagon to exempt its national guard from the vaccine requirement. And the senior Oklahoma Guard official issued his own policy saying his troops would not be penalized for refusing fire. In a letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Austin said all military personnel must meet vaccine requirements, and failure to do so could “endanger” their status in the National Guard. (Federal Information Network)
  • The toughest penalties for unvaccinated federal employees will wait until after the vacation. The Biden administration is urging agencies to suspend or fire unvaccinated federal employees until January. Rather, agencies should pursue education and counseling initiatives. The administration said agencies may consider giving employees who continue to refuse vaccination a written reprimand for the time being. Ninety-two percent of federal employees are at least partially vaccinated. (Federal Information Network)
  • The Department of Energy is looking for input from the public on how they can create resilient supply chains for the U.S. energy sector. In a new information request, the DOE presented a broad vision of securing energy supply chains. The ministry requests information on the risks for specific sub-sectors, such as solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power. And he also studies cross-cutting risks such as cybersecurity and international competition. The DOE is preparing a report due in late February as part of the Biden administration’s broader supply chain initiative.
  • Customs and border protection are planning a big IT purchase in 2022. Next year, CBP announced it will issue a formal request for proposals to bid on its cloud migration contract. In a notice to industry, the agency said it was continuing to refine its requirements for acquiring Enterprise Cloud and Integrated Services. The agency has received a lot of feedback and interest in bulk sourcing since it first reported that it was going to migrate to the cloud in 2020. eBuy service administration system.
  • NITAAC’s perfect record of winning against its acquisition of CIO-SP4 has finally come to an end. After winning 22 consecutive protests, the NIH IT Acquisition Assessment Center ultimately lost to the Government Accountability Office. GAO partially supported Computer World Services Corporation’s complaint that NITAAC did not treat bidders equally in the CIO-SP4 tender. CWS argued that NITAAC’s decision to limit the number of past performance examples to just two for large companies in a joint venture was unreasonable and resulted in unequal treatment. The GAO said that NITAAC could not reasonably explain its rationale for limiting only large companies that are members of joint ventures rather than limiting all members or teams. The GAO, however, dismissed two other complaints filed by CWS as part of its protest.
  • The Postal Service’s annual holiday giveaway campaign is now accepting donations for the season. USPS through its Operation Santa Claus Program posts letters to Santa online, but writes up sensitive information like last names or addresses. People who go through a short ID check can select a letter and send a gift package through USPS. Individuals now have until December 22 to go to the site and select a letter they wish to complete. Packages can be shipped until January 14. The Postal Service has managed the program for over a century.



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