Postal Service misjudged savings from downsizing facilities

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  • The Postal Service’s downsizing of its postal network did not help to save as much money as it hoped. The agency’s inspector general said USPS consolidated more than 200 facilities between 2011 and 2015, and reduced its first-class mail standards. However, those moves only saved it $91 million in fiscal 2016 and 2017 when they were expected to save $1.6 billion. Postal management hopes to eventually achieve the full savings, but the IG doubted it would. (U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General)
  • Three agencies won extra money for their IT modernization efforts. The departments of Labor and Agriculture and the General Services Administration received loans totaling $23.5 million from the Technology Modernization Fund. The TMF Board announced the three agencies and their projects which won second round money yesterday. GSA received about $15 million for application modernization. USDA won money for a second time, garnering $5 million for an infrastructure optimization and cloud adoption initiative. Labor will use its $3.5 million award to modernize its work visa application process. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies are getting more Freedom of Information Act requests now than ever before. The problem with that is the National Archives and Records Administration said the government’s workforce has not been able to keep up with demand. More than 800,000 FOIA requests were filed last year, with about 4,500 FOIA officers to cover them. Alina Semo, the director of the Office of Government Information Services said employees still think their agencies see FOIA work as a form of punishment. (Federal News Network)
  • A manager with the Bureau of Land Management could be in hot water for sending sexually explicit messages to three subordinates, and using a surveillance system in the building he worked at to take pictures of bureau employees without their consent. While the exchanging of the messages was consensual, the manager admitted the conduct was inappropriate. The Interior Department’s Inspector General made no recommendations, and was unable to find any evidence to back another claim that the manager misused federal money to buy a television or furniture for his office. (Department of Interior Office of Inspector General)
  • Four evaluator training courses for human capital professionals will be offered by the Office of Personnel Management next year. The training will focus on planning and conducting employee reviews, as well as reporting the findings. Courses run in March, April, May and July last three days at the Office of Personnel Management’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • There is no program to help the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board detect, prevent and monitor potential insider threats to the Thrift Savings Plan and its systems and data. KPMG conducted an audit back in 2017. The Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration brought KPMG on board to conduct the audit, because the TSP doesn’t have an inspector general. The FRTIB said it’s developing an insider threat program now, and it should be ready by August 2019.
  • The way you look may start playing a bigger role in whether Navy officers get promoted or not. Effective immediately, the Navy is reinstating a requirement that officers submit full-body photos to the promotion boards who’ll decide whether they move up to the next rank. Just two years ago, the Navy eliminated the photo requirement, saying each officer’s physical fitness was already documented in written reports. But officials say promotion boards complained about the change, and argued pictures are needed to assess sailors’ ability to perform at the next paygrade. (Navy)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals joins the Military Spouses Employment Partnership. The partnership is a coalition of nearly 400 employers providing jobs to military spouses. It’s part of a DoD initiative to reduce the 23 percent unemployment rate of military spouses. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Have cool ideas about space? You might be able to get some cash from the Air Force. The service, along with the Wright Brothers Institute, is looking for visualization tools like virtual reality to help with understanding and awareness of satellites and other objects in the Earth’s orbit. The Air Force Visionary Q-Prize competition hopes to bring in nontraditional industry partners. It wraps up in mid-January. (InnoCentive)
  • While you were watching college football, NASA was repairing a crucial program up in space. NASA says the Hubble Space Telescope is working again, after a three-day repair. Technicians were able to stabilize a backup gyroscope that had replaced a failed “primary” gyro. The primary instrument failed three weeks ago. The backup was giving erratic information,  preventing the telescope from locking in on targets. Ground crews basically shook the telescope until the gyro worked properly. (NASA)

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