NASA astronauts get look at Orion spacecraft while DoD helps with a recovery test. Plus – Biden picks next potential cyber director, and another update on telework policies in the federal government.
This week’s roundup of news pertaining to the US federal government workforce features more from the ongoing debate over telework. We’ve also got some updates from NASA about the agency’s efforts to return man to the lunar surface. Then, see who Biden tapped to be the President’s next cyber director.
Telework News from Congress and GAO
We recently reviewed a memo sent from the White House’s chief of staff regarding remote work for federal employees, signaling a shift in the current administration’s attitude towards telework. The correspondence implored agencies to ramp-up on-site service starting in September. Despite ending the operating status that encouraged telework due to COVID, the current president had appeared more supportive of remote work policies before the recent memo was made public. This increases the uncertainty surrounding the future of telework across federal agencies.
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Republicans from the House of Representatives, Comer of Kentucky, Boebert of Colorado, and Sessions of Texas, requested information from 25 federal agencies in May. This month, they sent follow-up letters to 23 of those agencies, which apparently never provided the information that was asked for. The information was regarding telework and how it impacts agency performance, how that is tracked, and how it affects employee accountability and an agency’s ability to complete its overall mission.
Also this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report about remote work in the federal government and concluded the effects were generally positive, especially when it comes to performance and productivity. The only negative takeaway from the GAO research was that there could be some detrimental long-term effects that are currently unforeseen. Collaboration and innovation were two areas of possible concern.
NASA News: Artemis Mission Updates
The astronauts who were picked to participate in the Artemis missions recently visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the Orion spacecraft that will eventually take them to the moon. They walked away impressed. At the moment, the Artemis II mission is scheduled for late 2024 and aims to fly the four individuals to the moon’s orbit and back. The Artemis III mission, slated for 2025, will include the same astronauts and is planned to include a landing on the lunar surface. However, NASA announced earlier this month that these missions might be delayed to 2025 and 2026 because of an issue with the capsule’s heat shield, which protects the crew from intense heat upon reentry to Earth. The issue with the shield was discovered during the unmanned Artemis I mission.
On the other side of the country, NASA collaborated with the Department of Defense (DoD), specifically the Navy and Air-Force, to conduct a recovery test for the next Artemis mission. When the astronauts return to the planet, they will land in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego. The recent test was the 10th performed by NASA, but the first with their DoD partners, and was a complete success. Navy divers will meet the capsule in the ocean, extract the astronauts, and then tow the space capsule back to land.
Biden Nominates Cyber Director
The office of the National Cyber Director was created in 2021 and first occupied by Chris Ingles, who stepped down from the position this past February. As acting director, Kemba Walden took over the office, the role of which is to advise the President on cybersecurity strategies. Walden withdrew her name for consideration from the pool of candidates to be considered for the official position in the spring. Now, the White House has nominated Harry Coker to be the second official cyber director for the country. Coker served in the US Navy for 20 years, and also worked in an official capacity with both the CIA and NSA. Since its inception, the office of the National Cyber Director has laid out 69 high-impact initiatives related to cybersecurity for federal agencies.
Until Next Time,
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