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- It’s official. Most federal employees will receive a pay rise in 2022. President Biden signed an executive order providing for an average pay rise of 2.7% for civilian employees next year. This includes an overall increase of 2.2%, with an additional 0.5% of local wage adjustments. The increases take effect during the first pay period in January. A 2.7% salary increase is greater than the 1% increase for federal employees in 2021. (Federal Information Network)
- More Veterans Health Administration employees report experiencing burnout in 2021 compared to previous years. This is one of many findings from VA’s latest report on its response to the pandemic. The department said it had also lost more nurses this year than the previous two. He is exploring alternative arrangements so that nurses and VA clinicians can take short sabbaticals or accept short assignments rather than leaving the field altogether. VA clinicians assisted with a total of 158 FEMA details across the department’s fourth mission. It has also published more than 300 studies on COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
- The Air and Space Forces now have around 10,000 requests for religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine across the force. About 2,100 were treated and all were turned down. Over 130 have been appeals and have also been dismissed. The Air Force Department said it tries to process requests as quickly and transparently as possible. To date, 95% of all air and space forces are vaccinated.
- The Air Force has a new resource for military families. The Air Force launches its Thrive and Five initiative to focus on key issues affecting families. These include: child care, health care, education, spousal employment and housing. The program is led by Sharene Brown, wife of the Air Force Chief of Staff. Thrive and Five will issue monthly status reports to families to ensure they are up to date with the leaders’ latest military policies. Brown’s group will also be visiting various bases to collect best practices and listen to concerns. The organization has already published a guide to help families navigate the top five issues. The book also covers confusing acronyms and other aspects of military life. (Federal Information Network)
- Three agencies jointly publish new guidance on managing the Log4J cybersecurity threat. In fact, several countries are coming together as evidence accumulates that hackers scan networks around the world, looking for the weakness of Log4J. Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI issued a new advisory. They are joined by cyber officials in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. The new guide contains more detailed and detailed steps organizations can take to find and mitigate the vulnerability.
- The Biden administration is moving forward with proposed cyber incident reporting rules for federal contractors. The agencies plan to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in February. The measure is part of President Biden’s cybersecurity executive order. He asked agencies to develop contractual language to define cyber incident reporting requirements. Key questions include what types of incidents will need to be reported and what types of contractors will be covered by the proposed wording. Industry will have 60 days to comment once the regulations are published.
- The Pentagon gets its chief information officer confirmed by the Senate. He’s already been in the role since January, but when John Sherman sat down at his desk this week, he had to pull the acting out in front of his title. Sherman was sworn in as the CIO of the Department of Defense after being confirmed by the Senate on December 14. Sherman has a busy 2022 year on his agenda. Information technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are at the heart of DoD modernization plans. The Pentagon is still pursuing a cloud environment, this time with multiple companies via the Joint Combat Cloud capability. And the CIO’s office is also taking a larger role in overseeing the cybersecurity maturity model certification standards.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new senior official in charge of its homeless prevention efforts in the greater Los Angeles area. VA appointed clinical psychologist Keith Harris as an intermediary between the department’s central office and the LA medical center. VA is revitalizing the West Los Angeles campus into a community for homeless veterans. Harris will lead this project. LA is an epicenter for homeless veterans across the country.