Administration’s proposal to cut federal retirement sees bipartisan pushback
March 15, 2019 10:14 am
5 min read
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President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the federal retirement system are drawing criticism from some members of Congress. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he’s focused on changing the retirement system for prospective new hires, not current federal employees and retirees. He told members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association that they were promised certain retirement benefits when they joined federal service, and that those benefits shouldn’t be taken away. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also called the president’s proposed budget “dead on arrival.” (Federal News Network)
The final numbers aren’t in yet, but preliminary data show that agencies had another record year for FOIA requests in fiscal 2018. Melanie Ann Pustay, the director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy, told members of a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee that the tally for last year’s volume is already 90,000 requests higher than in fiscal 2017. The Interior Department’s acting deputy chief FOIA officer, Rachel Spector, said agency requests are up 30 percent since 2016. Requests to the secretary’s office have increased more than 200 percent. (Federal News Network)
There is a new bipartisan attempt to inject more transparency into the security clearance process. Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Warner and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) want to ensure all federal employees, appointees and contractors receive security clearances using the same vetted investigative standards. They’ve introduced the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act. The bill also codifies federal employees’ rights to appeal a decision to deny or revoke a clearance, and requires the government to publish the results of those appeals. (Bill text, via Sen. Mark Warner)
The $50 billion telecommunications and IT modernization contract known as EIS is officially open for business. CenturyLink just became the first of 10 awardees to receive an authority to operate for its business systems. This was the final step before agencies could start making awards under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program. Agencies have to release solicitations under EIS by the end of the month. (CenturyLink)
The Department of Homeland Security is one step closer to having a permanent chief financial officer. Trump nominated Troy Edgar to fill that role. Edgar is the President, CEO, and founder of Global Conductor. The president had previously nominated Charles Cook to be the CFO, but withdrew his nomination in June. Edgar would replace Chip Fulghum, who was CFO until January 2017 and now is the deputy undersecretary for management at DHS. Edgar was the mayor of Los Alamitos, California, and had served on the city council since 2006. Edgar has some familiarity with the federal government having worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Boeing, and as the CFO for the Military Transport Aircraft Product Support division of the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company. (White House)
The Defense Department’s Support for Strategic Analysis, the analytics approach used to evaluate its force structure, is falling short, the Government Accountability Office said. DoD has not updated its SSA products due to their cumbersome nature, they are not flexible enough to challenge assumptions or propose varying force structures, and they lack a joint force analysis framework. The Government Accountability Office recommended DoD evaluate SSA and determine how to obtain more flexibility. (Government Accountability Office)
At the end of May, the Air Force will begin formally integrating Pilot Training Next into its undergraduate pilot training curriculum. Pilot Training Next uses simulators and data analytics to improve pilots’ skills and confidence on the ground. The Air Force hopes the new approach will accelerate learning and build better aviators. (Air Force)
GAO said the Defense Department needs to do more to implement Congressional directives involving its new chief management officer position. GAO said it’s not clear how the CMO will exercise authority over the business functions of the military services, defense agencies or field activities. Lawmakers have also ordered DoD to transfer some of its CIO authorities for business systems to the CMO, but it’s still not clear what DoD has done to follow through with that directive. (Government Accountability Office)
A bipartisan Senate coalition re-introduced legislation that would give financial relief to federal employees who relocate for work. The Relocation Expense Parity Act would ensure all federal employees who have moving costs reimbursed by the government would also get repaid for the taxes owed on their relocation reimbursements. The bill is endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union, the Senior Executives Association and the FBI Agents Association.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to make sure government employees can’t be fired for using marijuana in states where the drug is legal. Legislators sponsoring the bill said the federal policy of punishing marijuana users in states where it is legal disproportionately affects veterans who use cannabis for pain, PTSD and other issues. The bill would not apply to those with a top-secret security clearance. (Bill text via Congress.gov)
The CIO Council is giving agencies some help to meet a 2020 deadline to change the way they invest in technology. The council is laying out seven steps to help agencies implement Technology Business Management standards (TBM), the newest way the Office of Management and Budget wants to fix the way the government invests in technology. The TBM playbook outlines best practices to gain alignment across IT, finance and business owners. The seven steps include determining your current state, identifying desired outcomes, aligning your data and looking for results. (CIO Council)