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*** State-level technology reform features in new legislation announced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) that proposes a $500 million fund to modernize unemployment benefits systems with an eye to delivering benefits to more entrepreneurs and gig workers hit hard by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers want to add the bill to the next round of pandemic relief legislation with funding going to states in the form of grants to modernize their unemployment insurance system. There's no specific requirement about how the kinds of modernization the funds will support, but an aide to Warner pointed out that the Virginia Democrat signed on to a recent letter led by Sen. Ron Wyden seeking emergency funding for tech and acquisition experts at the Technology Transformation Services and the U.S. Digital Service to assist states with modernization of legacy systems.

*** After operating for nearly two years in an acting capacity, William Evanina was confirmed by the Senate as Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. The vote came one day after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced he would lift a hold he had placed on Evanina’s nomination as part of a document dispute with the Department of Justice.

While Evanina was easily confirmed by a vote of 84-7, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) denounced his nomination in a lengthy floor speech, saying Evanina has failed to protect whistleblowers during his time in government and has yet to implement reforms that would allow federal employees to file an appeal when security clearances are revoked as potential retaliation for blowing the whistle.

"Now is when we need officials who will demonstrate leadership, who will stand up for those brave enough to report misconduct. Whistleblowers deserve that. The country needs that," Wyden said.

Posted on May 07, 2020 at 11:29 PM


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