Were you hazed while serving in the military? GAO may want to hear from you

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  • The Government Accountability Office is looking for service members who were victims of hazing while they served. The office is collecting the information for a study on the Defense Department’s efforts to prevent and respond to hazing. Victims will be able to share their perspective in confidence. GAO also wants to know what factors led to reporting the hazing or not. Those interested in participating can email MilitaryHazing2021@gao.gov.
  • A bipartisan group of senators are taking another stab at creating a new rotation program for federal cybersecurity professionals. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) reintroduced the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Act. Senators say the bill would help agencies develop and retain qualified cyber specialists. The Senate unanimously passed this bill back in 2019.
  • CISA releases new mandates to address the Microsoft Exchange cyber vulnerabilities. Agencies have a new deadline to fix previously unknown vulnerabilities with Microsoft Exchange servers. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency tells agencies they have until Friday to apply a patch to any on-premise Microsoft email systems. CISA yesterday released a second supplement to its March 3 emergency directive detailing these new requirements. The National Security Council said the government discovered this new vulnerability and told Microsoft about it. The NSC said the disclosure is an example of how it wants the government to be responsible and transparent when handling vulnerabilities.
  • A new survey of contractors in the Defense Industrial Base found almost a third of the 130 respondents say the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification or CMMC initiative will create unnecessary burdens and costs. Apptega and SecureStrux, two cybersecurity compliance providers, asked 130 prime and subcontractors for their opinions on the new supply chain security effort. The survey showed a strong majority of respondents believe CMMC is important and two thirds said being CMMC certified will give their company a competitive advantage.
  • A new study said the Defense Department is still having readiness issues, but is the problem that the military is doing too much? The Pentagon saw decreases in its capability to conduct missions even as resources and budgets grew from 2017 to 2019. That’s according to the Government Accountability Office. The decrease is partly because the Pentagon’s priorities changed to focus on China and Russia. However, the Trump-era National Defense Strategy also wants to military to be able to counter Iran, North Korea and terrorism. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle think the strategy is too broad and stressing out the military’s personnel and equipment. A group of representatives recently sent a letter to the Defense Department about finding more realistic priorities. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies rarely deny step promotions and corresponding salary bumps to federal employees. The Merit Systems Protection Board says agencies deny step increases to one in every one-thousand federal employees. Employees must show an acceptable level of competence to earn a step increase. But surveys show a majority of federal employees believe at least one person in their work units aren’t meeting performance expectations. And a quarter of supervisors said performance for at least one of their employees is falling short. (Federal News Network)
  • The Census Bureau is one step closer to getting a new permanent director. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, for the job. Santos would be the bureau’s first person of color to serve as its permanent head if confirmed. He previously served on the Census Advisory Committee for Professional Organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics’ Board of Scientific Counselors.
  • More funding for the IRS won’t restore depleted capacity overnight. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said cuts to the agency’s enforcement operations mean the tax gap between what taxpayers owe and what the agency collects is likely to reach $1 trillion annually — more than double the previous estimate. The IRS won’t officially release its updated tax gap estimate until next year. The IRS since 2010 has lost more than 17,000 tax enforcement personnel. (Federal News Network)
  • They appropriated it, and now members of Congress want to know the Biden administration’s plans for using the billion dollar Technology Modernization Fund. Led by Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly and New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the five members ask Acting budget director Shalanda Young how the White House, the General Services Administration and the Fund Board will allocate the TMF money among the agencies, and by what criteria. They demand to know how and for what projects the pay-back mechanism will operate. The members want the answers by May 7.

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