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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is demanding a list of all military projects that will be affected by President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Trump announced $3.5 billion will be redirected from military construction accounts to build a border wall. Kaine also asked the Defense Department for an assessment of the risk to service members if construction projects are canceled. Thirty-one percent of DoD facilities are currently in poor or failing condition. (Sen. Tim Kaine)
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps said it needs about $3.5 billion to rebuild Camp Lejeune after last September’s hurricane damage. The figure is roughly equal to the dollar amount the Trump Administration plans to divert from military construction funds as part of last week’s border emergency declaration. Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, told USNI News he’s still hopeful that funds can be allocated for projects at Lejeune. He said many of the base’s buildings will need to be replaced because of flooding. That work will take several years, but Neller said the Marines are ready to spend $1.4 billion this year if money becomes available.
A 1.9 percent pay raise is official for civilian employees for the rest of the year. It includes a 1.4 percent across the board raise and a 0.5 percent locality pay adjustment. Some 72,000 federal employees who earned their own locality pay designations this year should see different rates now with a new raise in place. The pay raise applies to political appointees, senior executives, GS-15s who have hit the Executive Schedule ceiling and the vice president. (Federal News Network)
A bill to equalize cost-of-living adjustments for all federal retirees is back on the table in the House. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) reintroduces legislation which would calculate COLAs for workers in the Federal Employee Retirement System, the same way as those in the Civil Service Retirement System. CSRS retirees are set to get a 2.8 percent cost of living adjustment this year. But current law caps the COLA for FERS retirees at 2 percent on a given year. (Rep. Gerry Connolly)
Agencies brought on more than 14,000 employees through the use of direct hire authority in fiscal 2017. New data and analysis from the Merit Systems Protection Board shows the use of direct hire authority dropped after it reached an all-time high in 2016 of almost 18,000 employees. MSPB said even with increased use of these authorities, employees hired this way account for less than 10 percent of the overall hiring by the government. (Merit Systems Protection Board)
The Air Force said it improved how quickly it hires civilians by 12 percent in 2018. The service attributes the change in part to a non-competition cell, which processes temporary promotions and reassignments. The cell has closed out more than 3,000 cases. The Air Force also started using one-day hiring events where candidates are interviewed, given tentative job offers and can complete pre-job requirements like fingerprinting all in one day. The Air Force, along with the other military branches, is trying to recruit and retain highly skilled civilians. The services said fast hiring is important to recruiting and keeping that talent. (Air Force)
Included in the fiscal 2019 spending bill is money to upgrade Oversight.gov. Michael Horowitz, chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, said the $2 million will help the site make even more information about government programs publicly accessible. There will also be a list of IG recommendations for each agency. Plans for the site include a checklist of outstanding IG recommendations for each agency, and setting up a governmentwide inbox for whistleblowers tips. (Federal News Network)
The Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general calls on secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discipline a senior agency official. Acting Inspector General John Kelly said current Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Christine Ciccone has refused to cooperate with a State Department Office of Inspector General’s investigation of employee retaliation when she worked for that agency. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), have also urged Nielsen to punish Ciccone for not speaking with State OIG auditors. (House Foreign Affairs Committee)
The Census Bureau said it already has a way around a privacy flaw discovered in the data it collected for the 2010 count. the weakness has only been tested by internal software teams, according to Chief Scientist John Abowd who spoke at a conference. But it would allow someone to reconstruct individual data by matching Census data with public information. Abowd said that for the 2020 count, the bureau will use a new hashing methodology that was unavailable in 2010. (Associated Press)
The General Services Administration told what it derived from hundreds of comments about its e-marketplace initiative. Industry and other stakeholders filled up the GSA’s mailbox with more than 200 pages of comments about the e-marketplace or commercial platforms initiative. From those comments and from an industry day in December, GSA said five key themes emerged. These include not limiting the proof of concept to just the e-marketplace model, but for them to try out all types of portals. Another theme is for GSA to keep the proof of concept simple by limiting it to the micro purchase threshold of $10,000. (General Services Administration)