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Think you have what it takes to run a NASA mission? The agency is currently hiring new flight directors for its mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and reminds applicants, while many flight directors were previously NASA flight controllers, it’s not a requirement. Candidates must have a STEM related degree, and of course, be able to handle high pressure situations. (NASA)
Federal employee experts said agencies must fix their challenges with firing and hiring at the same time. Bob Gibson, senior labor relations adviser at RGS Incorporated, said the current environment doesn’t give supervisors an incentive to spend months getting rid of poor performers, and another 100 days to hire a new employee to fill the position. The Trump administration named hiring and firing processes as major pillars to its 21st century workforce cross agency priority goal. The administration said it wants to work with Congress to address statutory and regulatory rules that created an incomprehensible civil service system. (Federal News Radio)
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) introduced a bill to let federal employees buy back the years they served as temps to credit toward their retirement annuities. Federal workers currently can only buy back time for any service that happened before Jan. 1, 1989. Kilmer’s bill would let employees buy back time after 1989. Employees would also buy back the government contribution for those years. The Federal Managers Association said this legislation would be helpful for many of its members. (Federal Managers Association)
Army Secretary Mark Esper said the service is thinking once again about adding two weeks to basic training to make sure soldiers are ready for conflicts. The consideration comes as the Army is set to grow in 2018 and possibly again in 2019. The Army is posturing to fight near-peer competitors.
A Washington State man is charged with sending nearly nearly a dozen packages containing explosive materials to government facilities in and around the nation’s capital. Thanh Cong Phan, 43, made his first appearance in federal court in Seattle yesterday after U.S. postal inspectors tracked some of the packages to a self-service USPS kiosk near his home. None of the packages exploded. Several of them were sent to military installations, but Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that personnel at each of the bases followed proper procedures for suspicious packages and turned them over to the FBI. (Federal News Radio)
President Donald Trump is considering using Defense Department funds to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Associated Press reports Trump raised the idea in a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week. The president threatened to veto the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill last week because it didn’t authorize the $25 billion he wanted for a wall. Departments have limited authority to repurpose funds without congressional approval. (Federal News Radio)
The General Services Administration launched a new Venture Capital Advisory Group aimed at bringing agencies up to speed on emerging technologies. The advisory group will show how agencies like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Homeland Security Department work with private industry. It will also help familiarize agencies with the venture capital community and increase opportunities to collaborate. The group is co-chaired by DHS’ Office of Venture, Innovation and Engagement. (General Services Administration)
The General Services Administration is looking at as many as 14 different functions that could be moved to shared services. GSA Adminsitrator Emily Murphy said the administration has a 10-year plan to consolidate and centralize back-office functions. She used the payroll initiative as an example where the goal may be to get to three total providers for the military, civilian agencies, and overseas employees.
The Transportation Department is seeking vendors to provide enterprise IT-as-a-service for its headquarters and all of its components. DoT issued a draft solicitation for EITaaS, which includes program management and support, end user support and infrastructure operations services. The seven-year multiple award contract could be worth as much as $49 million over the life of the deal. DoT said the new approach will provide visibility and transparency into provider performance, and let it align its services to support the agency’s organizational structure, personnel skills and mission requirements. Questions about the draft solicitation are due by April 12.
Matt Masterson joined the Homeland Security Department to help federal, state and local authorities work on cybersecurity for the 2018 election. Masterson is formerly the chairman of the Election Assistance Commission. He also worked as the chief information officer in the Ohio secretary of state office.
The Environmental Protection Agency inked an agreement to see if a novel method of generating drinking water could work at scale. The agency entered a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Israeli company Water-Gen. The company has technology called atmospheric water generation, a low-power method of condensing moisture in the air. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the goal of the CRADA is ultimately to provide safe water in times of contamination disasters or some interruption in water infrastructure. (Environmental Protection Agency)