USPTO softens deal for COVID-related patents

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  • Inventors working on anything COVID-related could get special giveaways from the Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO has extended its Patent Rewards for Humanity program to people or companies developing technology to find, treat, or test for the COVID-19 virus. Winners receive a ticket for expedited processing of a COVID case, which they are entitled to sell. Winning inventors can also use the certificates to obtain loans or grants to market what they are offering. Plus, they get public recognition for the work they do. PTO will announce the winners in August.
  • La Poste has a lot to lose if its ten-year plan does not start. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in an interview that the Postal Service will run out of cash at the end of next year if the plan goes nowhere. The plan calls for legislative fixes from Congress and action from the Postal Regulatory Commission. As for what USPS can do on its own, DeJoy said the agency is looking to reduce its management workforce through voluntary early retirements. He said the agency had no plans for an involuntary downsizing, but didn’t rule it out either. (Federal Information Network)
  • The Biden administration is still not ready to release its “meager” budget for fiscal 2022. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the document a “discretionary directive” and said it would be released soon , but did not offer anything more specific. Psaki pointed out two reasons for the delay. One was the impact of some of the people appointed by the outgoing Trump administration. Second, Congress denied the administration a head of the Bureau of Management and Budget. The Trump and Obama administrations released initial budget plans by February.
  • Veterans Affairs staff are struggling to keep pace with a growing number of suicide prevention programs at the agency. The Government Accountability Office said staff are becoming exhausted due to the workload. VA facilities are expected to have one mental health professional for every 10,000 veterans that the hospital serves. But the GAO said it’s not clear whether this model best fits the department’s actual workload. Some local suicide prevention teams have said they are losing staff to stress.
  • The Department of Homeland Security said vaccinations among frontline workers have increased tenfold since January. More than 58,000 DHS employees in public employment are vaccinated. This is an increase from around 5,700 employees in early February. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides and administers vaccines to DHS employees under an interagency agreement. More than 160 VA medical centers now provide vaccines to DHS staff. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said more vaccination clinics are planned for DHS employees.
  • The IRS seeks to reduce its reliance on paper, increase its access to machine-readable data, and use its data to improve the taxpayer experience. To get there, the agency Office of Digitization and Business Case Management outlines procurement targets for the remainder of 2021. The IRS has told industry it is looking to acquire machine-readable data from low-quality images, high-speed scanning and digital solutions. ‘artificial intelligence. The agency will carry out this work through its Pilot IRS program, which provides additional funding for emerging technological solutions.
  • Another key part of the Air Force’s shift to IT as an enterprise service is in place. The Air Force’s heavily guarded enterprise IT-as-a-service initiative now has a centralized security operations center. Hansom Air Base uploaded their SOC at the end of February. He analyzes data from Buckley Garrison in Colorado and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, who are two of six harm reduction pilots under the EITaaS. The Security Operations Center does not replace existing cyber defenses, but tests commercial and data-centric software tools to see how they can provide increased threat detection leading to faster response times. The SOC also takes advantage of visualization and automation capabilities.
  • Teresa Carlson is leaving Amazon Web Services and moving to Splunk. The executive of the longtime federal entrepreneur is the new chief growth officer and president, a newly created position within the data and technology company. Carlson left AWS after 10 years as vice president of global public sector and industries. She will lead and work closely with Splunk Sales, Customer Success and Marketing. His first day at Splunk is April 19.
  • COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the quality of the Army’s basic training programs. This is what the coaches themselves say. In a survey of nearly 1,300 training personnel, 87% said they were concerned that new enlisters would graduate from basic training without sufficient instruction on military skills and discipline. 78% had concerns about fitness. The Inspector General of the Pentagon conducted the investigation. Concerns stem mainly from the fact that the military services suspended some key elements of basic training at the start of the pandemic, including some physical fitness tests and hand-to-hand combat exercises.
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