Federal Drive with Tom Temin
Summary: When he's not tooling around the National Capital region on his motorcycle, Tom Temin interviews federal executives and government contractors who provide analysis and insight on the many critical issues facing the Executive branch. The Federal Drive is found at FederalNewsNetwork.com and 1500 AM in the Washington D.C. region.
The Defense Department has been struggling with daycare issues for years. Now members of Congress are calling on Defense Secretary Mark Esper to sign up non-profit organizations and private industry to expand childcare options for military families. Representative Deb Haaland led a bipartisan and cross-committee charge to light a fire under the military’s feet. Federal News Network’s Scott Maucione discussed the implications with Haaland.
The pandemic has proven both scary and monotonous. And now the end of the federal fiscal year is only a month away so agencies and contractors alike can start to worry about the possibility of a partial government shutdown. For these and other concerns we check in with the executive vice president and general counsel of the Professional Services Council, Alan Chvotkin.
To help solve the problem of getting its vast inventory of analog holdings online, the Library of Congress has been turning to crowdsourcing enlisting volunteers to read and transcribe documents. The latest completed project makes available thousands of letters written to Abraham Lincoln while he was president. For details, Federal News Network's Jared Serbu spoke with the Library's digital collections specialist, Carlyn Osborn.
Some 700 companies hold slots on the 8(a) STARS II contract. The Small Business Administration pulled the rug out from under them. It let the General Services Administration raise the ceiling of the popular governmentwide acquisition contract by $7 billion but only if the contract’s period of performance was reduced by nearly two years. The small firms say SBA's decision is shortsighted and misinformed, and reverses decades of small business policy and precedence. In his weekly Reporter's Notebook, executive editor Jason Miller looked into this controversy. Jason joined us to discuss.
Some agencies have made detailed return-to-work plans and posted them publicly, but the Social Security Administration's been relatively quiet on reopening over the past few months. Most employees have been teleworking since mid-March, but SSA has a few more details now on plans to handle what it calls reposturing. The agency said given its high-risk customer base telework may continue for a while. That is of course a departure from SSA's previous treatment of telework. Federal News Network's Nicole Ogrysko joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin to help explain things.
Agencies received tens a billions of dollars from the CARES Act to ramp up their IT capabilities. Nearly five months later the Labor Department said it's seeing an accelerated pace to its IT modernization projects. Those include greater adoption of digital signatures and a shift away from paper-based process. Labor's also seeing a rise in automation to make better sense of its workplace injury data. For more on the status of those projects, Federal News Network's Jory Heckman spoke with Labor's Chief Information Officer Gundeep Ahluwalia on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is expected to face tough questions from a House comittee Monday, less than a week after he agreed to postpone a series of USPS operational changes until after the election. Democrats in particular still want answers about steps that have been taken so far that could still lead to mail delays. Mitchell Miller, Capitol Hill correspondent for sister station WTOP, joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin to talk more.
If the United States has to make some sort of containment of China, a foreign policy priority, the Navy's got a big part of the job. But is the Navy fully capable? The recent burning of an important ship while in port is the latest event to call into question the basic condition of the Navy. James Russell is associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He talked about the implications on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the federal hiring process quite a bit trickier. But there's no let up in the demand signal for scientists, engineers and management professionals to staff the nation's nuclear enterprise. Because of that the National Nuclear Security Administration is getting ready to host an all virtual job fair this Wednesday. NNSA and its contractors are looking to hire about 600 people. For more about the process and how NNSA is managing the hiring process during the pandemic, Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke to Frank Lowery, the agency's associate administrator for management.
It's sounds ironic, the most trustworthy IT network is a zero trust network. But a growing number of agencies are at least evaluating how to turn their networks into zero trust. Will the spending follow? For some answers the Federal Drive with Tom Temin turned to Bloomberg Government federal market analyst Laura Criste.
Earlier this year, the CARES Act provided billions of dollars in new unemployment payments to Americans whose jobs were affected by the pandemic. But it also created a huge IT challenge for state unemployment agencies who had to quickly retrofit their systems to administer the pandemic payments. A volunteer group of IT experts, called U.S. Digital Response, sprang into action to help states out, but almost immediately, they ran into a problem common across the public sector: the IT systems were closed, proprietary, and very hard to adapt to new problems. Waldo Jaquith is a member of U.S. Digital Response and a veteran of GSA’s 18-F organization. He talked with the Federal Drive about those challenges, and how agencies can prevent them in the future.
When the Social Security Administration denies someone’s claim for supplemental or disability payments, there are a lot of ways to appeal the decision. But the process can, and often does take years. The delays are so significant that members of Congress wanted to know how many Americans are dying or getting forced into bankruptcy while they’re awaiting a decision. The Government Accountability Office tried to answer that question, and in the process, came up with new data on just how long the appeals process takes. Elizabeth Curda is a Director on GAO’s Education, Workforce, and Income Security team. She talked with the Federal Drive about the new findings.
Fourteen days after the CARES Act passed, the Small Business Administration processed more spending for loans than it would normally handle in 14 years. The agency has also had to scale up its network to handle a workforce of 20,000 users, about five times what it needed before the coronavirus pandemic. For more on how SBA expanded its IT capabilities to meet this economic crisis, Federal News Network’s Jory Heckman spoke with the SBA’s Chief Technology Officer Sanjay Gupta. But first you’ll hear from Deputy Chief Information Officer, Guy Cavallo.
USO looking to help military spouses who are expecting
Earlier this week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy agreed to postpone a series of changes that have been blamed for mail delays until after the election, and to surge extra transportation capacity to make sure ballots arrive on time. Making sure USPS lives up to its delivery service standards, is of course, especially important during the pandemic – particularly for rural Americans. For more on that perspective, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke with Betsy Huber. She’s the president of the National Grange, a 150-year-old nonprofit that advocates for rural and agricultural interests in Washington.