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FCW Insider: Oct. 12

After just a few days on the job, Margaret Weichert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, announced the agency plans to hit the gas on a number of pay and personnel initiatives, including direct hiring for cyber and IT posts and a move to recalibrate pay for specialty occupations. Chase Gunter reports.

Private-sector tech workers are increasingly taking their dissatisfaction with Trump administration policies on immigration and warfighting to company leadership, pressuring some firms to get out of the government contracting game. Additionally, some firms are facing street protests outside their offices. Government officials are taking notice, but so far just hoping to wait it out. Mark Rockwell explains.

The cybersecurity threat is increasingly part of every security and criminal challenge being faced by federal law enforcement, the heads of Homeland Security and the FBI told the Senate. The leaders also updated members on the state of play in threats to U.S. elections. Derek B. Johnson has the story.

The newly released White House cyber strategy strikes a more assertive tone when it comes to doing battle with nation-state adversaries in cyberspace. But, as TruSTAR Technology founder and CEO Paul Kurtz writes in an FCW commentary, the risk of miscalculation and escalation is high.

Quick Hits

*** A bill to rename and codify the federal CIO and CISO structures at the Office of Management and Budget wouldn't break the bank, according to a cost estimate released Oct. 11 by the Congressional Budget Office. The Federal CIO Authorization Act of 2018, sponsored Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), would reauthorize and officially rename the Office of E-Government as the Office of the Federal CIO, and authorize the federal CISO post for the first time. The bill would also make maintenance of the federal IT Dashboard a legally required activity at OMB. The primary cost of the bill, C BO said, is a cost of up to $2 million to prepare a report on the feasibility of consolidating IT services to more than 100 small and midsized agencies.

*** Army Futures Command wants to go full Silicon Valley and seek out venture capitalists. Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters during a media gathering at AUSA earlier this week that the service was still looking for a CTO to help facilitate Army Futures Command make astute technological investments. McCarthy had previously said the Army was close to a hire. Once hired, the CTO would help Futures' commander, Gen. John Murray, evaluate emerging and maturing tech to prevent repeats of past failures and overreaches. Murray, who also talked to reporters, said he was very interested in working with venture capitalists to best scale tech capabilities -- either new or fully developed -- from small businesses.

*** Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said when it comes to space as a warfighting domain, a clear doctrine needs to be developed and proper authorities must be assessed. During a media briefing at the same conference on Oct. 10, Shanahan told reporters that the Defense Department needs "clear doctrine" for space warfighting, "and there shouldn't be ambiguity and that requires considerable thought and attention" because there’s no clear demarcation of when competition becomes combat.

"We need to apply the same diligence towards space as we have towards cyber, but address it earlier, rather than later," Shanahan said.

*** The Office of Personnel Management, now under new leadership, is following up on a section of President Donald J. Trump's executive order to make it easier to fire employees that was left untouched by the court ruling invalidating its other aspects.

As the case is now under appeal, new OPM head Margaret Weichert issued guidance around a provision of the order prohibiting agencies from erasing, removing, altering or withholding performance or conduct information from a civilian employee’s personnel file as part of the complaint resolution process. In the memo to agency heads, Weichert makes exceptions "should it come to light" that information in a personnel file is inaccurate or "records an action taken by the agency illegally or in error." She also carves out an exception for when "persuasive evidence" casts doubt on the validity or legality of an agency action against an employee before it's finalized. If an agency does alter the personnel file under these circumstances, the agency should report the changes to OPM.

Posted on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:53 AM


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