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- Improving employees’ understanding of different retirement plans and options for health benefits are among new strategies for the Office of Personnel Management. In OPM’s equity action plan, the agency said it will address gaps in financial literacy for disadvantaged communities, such as people of color and LGBTQ individuals. OPM also plans to improve demographic data on job applications to identify barriers to equity in federal hiring. These efforts come after the White House called on agencies to create strategies for advancing racial equity in federal services.
- The number of fraudulent change-of-address requests to the Postal Service more than doubled between 2020 and 2021. The USPS inspector general found the agency saw more than 23,000 cases of change-of-address fraud and attempted identity theft fraud last year. That’s a 167% increase compred to what the agency saw in 2020. The IG conducted its report after receiving inquiries from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The IG said ineffective identity verification controls at USPS allow bad actors to take advantage of the service, which saw much higher use since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. USPS management disagreed with the IG’s findings and recommendations.
- The Postal Regulatory Commission is looking to link up several dashboards to maximize insights into USPS service performance. The Postal Service is required to stand up a new dashboard tracking on-time delivery metrics as part of the recently signed Postal Service Reform Act. But the commission and the USPS Office of Inspector General already have their own dashboards tracking nationwide service. The commission’s chief data officer, Russ Rappel-Schmid said he’s looking at ways to bring these dashboards together. “I don’t think three, in this case, is a crowd. I like to go back to one of my favorite shows from the early ‘80s, Three’s Company. I think that’s where we’re headed.” (Federal News Network)
- The top Democrats of two House Committees are launching an investigation into federal agencies’ use of facial recognition technology from the vendor ID.me. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) are asking for a list of contracts ID.me has with federal, state and local governments, as well as specifics about its biometric data retention policies in those contracts. The IRS earlier this year backed away from plans to use facial recognition technology from ID.me to verify users online, and is pivoting to Login.gov.
- The Department of Homeland Security is reviewing its processes for disciplining employee misconduct. DHS is conducting a 45-day review of its discipline processes after unpublished inspector general reports showed sexual misconduct and domestic violence are going uninvestigated, unreported or unpunished at four law enforcement components. The Project on Government Oversight obtained the draft IG reports. The evaluations focused on Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Transportation Security Administration. One draft report shows one in three employees who were surveyed in 2018 said they experienced sexual harassment or misconduct in the workplace. (Federal News Network)
- The federal board that’s tasked with reviewing benefits decisions for veterans has a new nominee for chairman. President Joe Biden plans to pick Jaime Areizaga-Soto to lead the Board of Veterans’ Appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Areizaga-Soto currently serves as the National Guard Bureau’s principal deputy general counsel. He has also worked as deputy secretary for Veterans and Defense Affairs of Virginia. Currently, Cheryl Mason serves as chairwoman for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
- The Transportation Security Administration is getting a new technology leader. TSA is staying within the Homeland Security Department family for its new chief information officer. Yemi Oshinnaiye, the deputy CIO at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will replace Russ Roberts, who has been TSA’s CIO since 2018. Roberts, who initially said he would retire at the end of December, stayed on for five extra months and now will retire at the end of May. Oshinnaiye will start in early May to ensure there is an easy transition. Oshinnaiye has been the deputy CIO at USCIS since March 2019, but worked at DHS previously from 2012 to 2017. (Federal News Network)
- There’s a new guide for how to report cyber incidents. Agencies and industry alike are being asked to report suspicious and threatening activity on their networks. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency now has a guide out for sharing cyber event information. The guide includes 10 key elements of a report that organizations should share with CISA in the event of a cyber attack. CISA said it will use the information to provide assistance and share warnings to prevent other entities from falling victim to a similar attack.
- A bi-partisan group of lawmakers is pushing the Energy Department to ensure it’s taking the lead in protecting the energy sector from cyber attacks. In a letter to Secretary Jennifer Granholm, two House and two Senate members who lead their body’s respective DoE oversight committees asked her to do more to maintain the department’s role as the Sector Risk Management Agency. They also tell Granholm to work with CISA on forthcoming cyber incident reporting requirements to ensure clarity and consistency, and avoid duplication.