New Senate bill asks agencies to find creative ways to recycle electric car batteries

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  • The postal service is in recovery, but more difficult decisions lie ahead. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the USPS is on track to reverse its long-term financial challenges as part of its 10-year reform plan. The Postal Service Reform Act that President Joe Biden recently signed into law is just the latest piece of the plan to fall into place. USPS is now focused on revamping its facilities. But DeJoy said in an interview that challenges remain for the USPS. “There are still a lot of uncomfortable things we have to do. I’m pretty good at that stuff, but I’m not like a magician. And the team is pretty good. We cannot repair 14 years of colossal damage that has been inflicted on the organization. (Federal News Network)
  • More than 90 federal agencies announce new plans to improve fairness in government services. This equates to a combined total of 300 concrete strategies. Actions include goals such as expanding demographics and increasing opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged businesses. Ensuring fairness in technological advancements is another shared priority, such as the Department of Defense’s use of artificial intelligence. The release of these equity action plans stems from an executive order last January on advancing racial equity. The White House said it would release more details on the implementation in the coming weeks. (Federal News Network)
  • the Department of Veterans Affairs seeks to improve its services to often underserved veteran communities. This includes groups like Veterans of Color, Women, and LGBTQ Veterans. The VA has launched a “Data for Equity” strategy to eliminate gaps in its demographics. The strategy will synchronize veterans’ health information, such as health care and disability benefits data. The launch of the program is part of new equity action plans by the White House and other agencies to improve federal services for underserved communities.
  • the Department of Veterans Affairs awards approximately $52 million in grants to organizations that provide or coordinate suicide prevention services for veterans at risk of suicide and their families. It comes a week after the Government Accountability Office found that military personnel on remote bases are more likely to attempt suicide. Secretary Denis McDonough said S/Sgt Parker Gordon Fox’s suicide prevention grant program will focus on local community organizations, which are important partners in the department’s work to end suicide in Veterans.
  • the Commerce Department appoints 27 experts to a committee that will advise the president on issues related to artificial intelligence. The National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee includes members from Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and top universities. Commerce created the council as part of the National AI Initiative Act passed by Congress in 2020. Committee members will serve three-year terms and can serve up to two consecutive terms at the discretion of the Secretary of Commerce.
  • Federal agencies will have to come up with a plan to recycle their electric vehicle batteries, if a Senate bill passes Congress. the Electric Vehicle Strategic Management Act would require the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan on how to recycle old electric vehicle batteries and maximize their longevity. The GSA finds that the federal fleet of electric vehicles has grown significantly in recent years. The authors of the bill, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Richard Burr (RN.C.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), said 95% of critical materials in EV batteries are recyclable.
  • Three big changes in the office of the CIO of the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy fills one key technology role, while two more are opening up. First, Energy announced that Emery Csulak would be the new chief data officer, stepping down from the lead role of deputy CIO. Ann Dunkin, chief information officer at Energy, has held both positions for the past year or more. Energy will need to recruit a new Senior Deputy CIO. Csulak has been with the Department of Energy since 2019 and Senior Deputy Chief Information Officer since September 2020. Meanwhile, Greg Sisson, the Department of Energy’s Chief Information Security Officer, is retiring in July. Sisson has been CISO since March 2021 and has worked at Energy since 2018.
  • Nearly four years after Congress demanded cost and price data for specific noncommercial contracts worth more than $2 million, the Department of Defense and NASA have no idea whether the mandate has an impact. A new report from the Office of Government Accountability found that less than 1% of contracts awarded by NASA and the DoD in 2020 required vendors to certify cost and pricing data. The DoD is working on a report to Congress, due in July, on the effects of this 2018 NDAA requirement.
  • the Department of Homeland Security wants to create new relationships between contractors and small businesses. DHS will host a vendor matchmaking event on April 20. The virtual event gives small businesses a chance to showcase their capabilities, discuss outsourcing opportunities and explore new mentor-protégé relationships. DHS generally meets its annual targets for small business contracts. The department received an “A” on the annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard for the 12th consecutive year in 2021.
  • A senior procurement official shares new data on risks in the government supply chain. The General Services Administration has identified about 200,000 products of “concern” in its marketplace over the past year. The GSA offers tens of millions of products to agencies under government contracts. GSA’s Sonny Hashmi said identified product risks range from cybersecurity issues to foreign ownership and dependencies. “By identifying these products, we can start having the right conversations with these suppliers, manufacturers and resellers to be able to say, ‘Let’s share more information about this. We need to know more about this. And then, at the end of the day, we can take action, like removing some of these products, or even removing them from our market. » (Federal News Network)

Norman D. Briggs