Spanish civil servants brace for cyberattacks, Indian government’s health of civil services report, US civil servant protection panel reconstituted: management & workforce news in brief

By on 03/03/2022 | Updated on 03/03/2022
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Spanish civil servants asked to change passwords over concerns of Russian cyberattacks

The government of Spain has asked its senior civil servants and diplomats to change their passwords as departments become more alert to the possibility of a Russian cyberattack.

The country’s National Cryptologic Centre, a cybersecurity body linked to the National Intelligence Centre, has urged central government to issue the advice following an invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces that began last week.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation recorded the largest cyberattack in the country’s history on 15 February, which targeted state websites and the banking sector. Mikhail Fyodorov, the country’s minister of Digital Transformation, said the attack had been prepared in advance and had a cost “amounting to millions of dollars”.

Meanwhile, governments in Western countries overseas are stepping up their awareness of the risk the conflict poses cybersecurity at home. Alejandro Mayorkas, the United States’ secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said recently that the department had a duty to be aware of the threat of cyberattacks in light of the ongoing conflict.

“We have no information to suggest a specific credible cyber threat against the US homeland, but it is our responsibility to be prepared,” he said.

Upcoming webinar: The digital pandemic: cyber-security in the era of COVID-19

Indian government to publish ‘health of civil services’ report

The Indian government’s Capacity Building Commission is to publish an annual Health of Civil Services Report that will assess the performance of the government departments and bodies across India, it has been announced.

Minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions Dr Jitendra Singh announced the creation of the report to measure progress on plans to improve civil service capacity, which is being led under a programme called Mission Karmayogi

Addressing an event on ‘Revisiting the History of Civil Service Reforms from Capacity Building Lens,’ the minister said public officials face increasing pressure to deliver better services with fewer resources, adding: “Civil servants for a New India need to keep pace with these constant and evolving changes.”

The minister said he hoped Mission Karmayogi will be a key enabler in enhancing delivery, and over the time will be able to support in achieving the goal of increasing the size of the Indian economy to US$5 trillion, which has been set in 2019 by prime minister Narendra Modi.

US civil servant protection panel reconstituted

A panel set up to enforce protections for US federal staff public servants has been reactivated in recent days after the senate signed off two of US president Joe Biden’s three nominees for its board.

The nominees, Tristan Leavitt and Raymond Limon, were chosen with unanimous support in the senate to join the federal government’s Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Leavitt is the MSPB’s general counsel, while Limon is the Interior Department’s chief human capital officer.

Their nominations mark the first time that the MSPB has confirmed members of its central panel since 2019. Appeals have not occurred since January 2017, owing to the minimum of two out three members needed for a governing quorum.

The MSPB’s third member, Cathy Harris, is Biden’s third and final nominee for the board. She is still awaiting a vote in the senate. The panel had experienced five years of dysfunction, with a backlog of more than 3,500 pending cases before its central board. The nominees have said they will work to address these cases quickly.

“While MSPB employees have been remarkably focused in continuing the agency’s work despite the challenges, there is no question we look forward to the arrival of new board members,” Leavitt wrote in MSPB’s annual report last year. “In order to fully perform its mission and successfully face new challenges that lie ahead, MSPB needs a board quorum,” Leavitt said.

Read more: Trump curbs federal staff protections and union powers

ECB kicks off €20m tender for digital euro architects

The European Central Bank (ECB) has kicked off a tender process for design and business model consultancy for a potential digital euro.

The procurement notice carries a total value of €20m (about US$22.1m) and is likely to have major companies scrambling to get directly involved with a potential European central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Read more: ECB kicks off €20m tender for digital euro architects

The process follows the start of the ‘investigation phase’ into a potential digital euro project that began six months ago. This is expected to run until October 2023 and is focused on the design and distribution options for a potential Eurozone digital currency. Then, ‘at the end of’ 2023, the ECB could move to what it describes as a ‘realisation phase’ to ‘develop and test the appropriate technical solutions and business arrangements necessary to provide a digital euro’, which could take a further three years.

In its tender notice, the ECB states that it wants to engage ‘strategic partners for consultancy services that allow the delivery of excellent, strategic capabilities to support solving complex questions that are not only new to the ECB but also globally in the context of CBDCs’.

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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