OPM’s Pon seeks important role for human capital council

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  • Jeff Pon, director of the Office of Personnel Management, said he is restoring the role of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council to the importance originally assigned to it by Congress. To do that, Pon said he needs the advice and guidance from agency chief human capital officers to pull it off. Pon sent a letter to all agency and department heads asking them to assign their position on the board to very senior level individuals who have their secretary or director’s trust. He said major civil service reform, IT modernization, and federal employee benefits are items on the group’s agenda. (CHCOC.gov)
  • Those hoping for military personnel reform in the 2019 defense authorization bill might be disappointed. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters last week that he did not see a major overhaul coming out of the personnel subcommittee. There has been a lot of chatter about reform this past year, when the military began expanding its ranks under the 2018 budget. The current law that dictates personnel policy is proving to constrain the military services as they try to retain and recruit top talent.  Policy experts have made it clear something needs to change in the personnel system if the military wants to stay afloat. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force said it is considering some new suggestions to keep women in the military. A RAND study recommended expanding childcare hours, educating officers on career options and putting more women on panels as ways to coax more women to stay. The RAND study said two-thirds of female officers who are not pilots leave service before 10 years. Women make up 20 percent of the Air Force officer corps and that percentage lowers at higher pay grades, according to the study. (Federal News Radio)
  • The U.S. Naval Academy said it is investigating a drug network on the Annapolis campus.  Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the academy’s superintendent, said an investigation into illicit drug sales is still ongoing but is likely to implicate between six and eight midshipmen, including the unnamed distributor.  He said the drug operation, which the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been looking into for the past several months, was first brought to the attention of academy officials by other students. It allegedly involved sales of cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. (Navy Times)
  • The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said 20,000 members of the military are missing out on a potential retirement windfall by not taking advantage of  matching contributions.  For those in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) blended retirement system, the DoD automatically contributes 1 percent of paychecks into retirement accounts. It will match any savings put into TSP up to 5 percent. With so many failing to take advantage of these contributions, the TSP board reminds those in the military that they are not automatic unless designated as such. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is reportedly moving forward on its ambitious plan to develop the same electronic health record system (EHR) as the Defense Department. VA’s former IT chief, Scott Blackburn, said the agency is just months away from finalizing a contract with the Cerner Corporation.  Blackburn, who resigned last week,  said his departure from VA, and President Trump’s firing of Secretary David Shulkin last month should not have any impact on the plan moving forward. The shakeup in VA’s leadership had left some wondering whether its EHR modernization effort would lose momentum. (Federal News Radio)
  • An internal Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) report has concluded a contractor cut corners in a sweep for hidden listening devices in Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office. The EPA’s Office of Homeland Security found the sweep was “very basic and cursory” and did not meet the standards for a sensitive facility. The agency paid $3,000 for the sweep in March 2017 to a contractor affiliated with the head of Pruitt’s 20-member security team.  Democrats have questioned whether the EPA’s report on the matter was trying to deflect attention away from the debugging contract, which they claim was improperly steered to a business associate. (Federal News Radio)
  • DoD said it is looking for help integrating common IT functions under the Joint Information Environment (JIE). The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) released a draft solicitation asking vendors to comment on its plan to buy enterprise cloud services for common communication, collaboration and productivity capabilities to support DoD operations worldwide. DISA said the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) program will unify and modernize legacy DISA IT enterprise services such as email, portal collaboration and other disparate DoD-wide legacy capabilities. Responses to the draft Request for Proposals are due May 7. (FedBizOps.com)

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