US Marshals Service told to improve oversight of its merit promotion process

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  • A new report from the Government Accountability Office says the U.S. Marshals Service needs to do a better job of monitoring how supervisors go about scoring merit-based promotion applications. GAO said in some cases, people doing the scoring and those being scored were competing for the same job, causing a mistrust of the fairness of process by employees. The Marshals Service said in the future it will use a contactor to conduct the scoring, rather than employees. (GAO)
  •  Sen. Ron Johnson (R- Wis.) repeated a request that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) supply him with all documents related to a 2013 ruling it made exempting members of Congress from the Affordable Care Act. To press his request, Johnson threatened to hold off the nomination of Jeff Pon as OPM director. Pon otherwise sailed through his nomination hearing smoothly without much controversy.  (Federal News Radio )
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called upon small business to come with some big ideas for its 2018 Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). SBIR targets the entrepreneurial sector because NOAA said that’s where innovation thrives. But since risk and expense of conducting serious R&D efforts are often beyond the means of many small businesses, NOAA has offered Phase-one awards in the SBIR program ranging up to $120,000.  NOAA said the grants will target research in subjects like coral restoration and air quality sensors. (GSA)
  • President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the General Services Administration faced smooth sailing at her Senate confirmation hearing this week. Emily Murphy faced few tough questions about her plans to improve federal acquisition, and promised to address long-standing issues in the Public Building Service during her hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday. Murphy did, however, offer some further insight into where she said federal procurement needs to go in the short term. She said she will try to make sure GSA’s contracting officers and policies support vigorous competition at the task order level.  (Federal News Radio)
  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave Congress a piece of his mind over portions of the 2018 defense authorization bill. Mattis said some of the cyber provisions in the bill tie the hands of the military. He also took issue with the creation of a Space Corps, changes to the Defense Department health system and reporting requirements dealing with offensive cyber measures in an Oct. 17 letter sent to Congress. Senate and House begin to reconcile their differences over the bill in conference this week. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department said it is in talks with IT companies, looking for ways to revise its cybersecurity policies for commercial cloud services. Top staff working for the Pentagon’s chief information officer have held at least two sessions in the last two months, asking cloud providers’ technical experts how they might achieve the level of security DoD wants. The department is leaning toward relying more on commercial companies own security capabilities and loosening the specific security controls it imposes for each contract. But officials said any potential revisions to DoD’s cloud security requirements guide is still a work in progress.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is using its Rapid Capabilities Office as a model to speed up its other acquisition programs. The service is creating a blanket charter that can be used for programs it wants to move faster. Those programs will get special authorization and will be overseen by a board of directors. (Federal News Radio)

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