Democratically-controlled House could have positive effect for feds

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  • A divided Congress is less likely to pass legislation on matters such as higher employee retirement contributions. It is also less likely to go along with civil service reforms proposed by the Trump administration. Some of those are in legal limbo from union lawsuits. Potential new committee chairs have promised to conduct more oversight, and investigation of Trump appointees.
  • The Office of Management and Budget raised the bar on enterprise risk management through an update to its Circular A-123 two years ago. Now federal employees can become card-carrying experts on the topic. The Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management enrolls 65 federal employees through its new two-year ERM credential certification. Tom Brandt, the IRS’s chief risk officer, and president-elect of AFERM, said the new credential helps set a governmentwide standard for the skills and expertise risk analysts should have on the job. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies finally have more clarity on what exactly cybersecurity specialists *are* within the federal workforce. The Office of Personnel Management issued new guidance detailing the roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity positions. OPM said agencies should be able to better identify, classify, and recruit and retain cybersecurity professionals. OPM’s new guidance came after Congress told agencies back in 2016 to identify and code all cybersecurity positions. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration seeks a vendor to provide tech support to its acquisition work. GSA released a request for information for Federal Service Desk Support. The portal serves as a support contact point and resource center for Integrated Award Environment applications. Acquisition and financial assistant officials use those applications during the contract award and management process. Through a draft performance work statement, GSA is also looking for feedback on how artificial intelligence might deliver helpdesk services.
  • The Patent and Trademark Office gained a new second-in-command. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appointed Laura Peter as the deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property, and deputy PTO director. Before joining government, Peter served as deputy general counsel for A-10 Networks in Silicon Valley, and has practiced intellectual property law for more than 20 years. The Patent and Trademark Office has more than 13,000 employees, and issued it 10 millionth patent this summer. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • Military retirees and those receiving survivor annuities will get a 2.8 percent increase in cost-of-living adjustments in 2019. Those receiving special survivor indemnity allowance will now get $318 dollars a month. The COLA increase is the largest since 2012. COLA adjustments are tied to the consumer price index. (Federal News Network)
  • Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, was reprimanded along with five other special ops members, in connection with the ambush last year that left four US soldiers dead. The New York Times reported four officers and two enlisted soldiers were reprimanded in total, mostly for insufficient training and oversight. (New York Times)
  • The Navy said more than a dozen sailors responsible for the nuclear reactor on the USS Ronald Reagan are being disciplined for distributing or using LSD. Two sailors are already facing court martial on allegations of distributing the drug aboard the aircraft carrier. But officials told the Navy Times newspaper that 12 other members of the ship’s reactor department are either awaiting charges or have already received some type of administrative discipline. The Navy said it’s reviewed all of the work performed by the sailors accused of LSD abuse, and found no safety concerns thus far. (Navy Times)
  • The Merit Systems Protection Board has nearly 1,600 cases pending and waiting for full action from the board. It’s now posting monthly data on pending petitions for review. Lone MSPB Board Member Mark Robbins issued decisions on those cases, but they can’t move forward until the board has a quorum. MSPB has been receiving an average of 60 to 70 cases a month since January 2017. (Merit Systems Protection Board)