State Dept. survey shows lack of leadership and vision of the future among employee concerns

In today's Federal Newscast, a survey of employees from the State Department shows deep dissatisfaction with longstanding problems and with current leadership.

  • The State Department’s survey shows deep dissatisfaction with longstanding problems and with current leadership. More than 35,000 State and USAID employees responded. State handed the final report to the Wall Street Journal, two days before releasing it. Employees, third in line, get to see it today. From the newspaper report, little is surprising. Employees said there’s no clear vision for the future. They worry about proposed budget cuts and potential departures of talent. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Energy Department has awarded 21 contracts to help federal buildings improve their energy savings. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Renewable Power within DoE’s Energy Efficiency Office Tim Unruh said the energy service companies cover the initial greening work, and are repaid through the operating savings. The contracts last an average of 17 years and are worth anywhere between $15 million and $17 million. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon is testing artificial intelligence technologies developed by a Canadian firm as one potential replacement for its Common Access Card. The company, Plurilock, has reached a deal through the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental to pilot its system in one of DoD’s combat support agencies. It works by monitoring computer users’ “patterns of life,” such as their keyboard and mouse movements, to detect anomalies that might suggest an intruder has logged in with someone else’s credentials. DoD is trying to replace the CAC card — the smart-cards its employees currently use for two-factor authentication — by 2018, and has said it wants a suite of technologies that employs multiple factors. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department is considering cutting a policy that gives talented foreigners a faster way to U.S. citizenship through the military. According to the Washington Post, the program recruits immigrants who have medical and language skills. Canceling the program could leave 1,000 recruits with no immigration status and make them susceptible to deportation. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agencies must present a policy to comply with President Donald Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order by Sept. 17. Guidance from the White House also lays out exemptions that will be allowed. The report to the Office of Management and Budget and the Commerce Department also must include ways agencies will try to reduce how often they apply exemptions. (White House)
  • Congress wants the Veterans Affairs Department to expand its acquisition internship program. House lawmakers on the Veterans Affairs Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee see the bill as a way to train more young talent and fill as many as 2,500 contracting vacancies. They want VA to pay for the program by streamlining and moving some of its acquisition functions to the VA facilities where the purchasing happens. (Federal News Radio)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leadership wants the Census Bureau to update its estimate on how much it thinks the 2020 count will cost. Census said it will cost $12.5 billion, but committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) think that estimate is outdated. The Government Accountability Office and Commerce Inspector General have both questioned Census’ cost estimation process. The 2020 Census would cost nearly $18 billion if the Bureau administered it the same way it did for the 2010 count. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • It’s a long road ahead for the IRS as it tries to upgrade its IT infrastructure through its Enterprise Case Management Project. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen told Congress in her mid-year report that the Internal Revenue Service is struggling with the implementation of its ECM Project. The project aims to create a common infrastructure platform. IRS’ current system relies on paper and electronic records. Olsen said IRS is not designing the project from the ground up, nor is it engaging employees. (Federal News Radio)

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