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House lawmakers in the national capital region want another update on the timing of the 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) have asked the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management for more details on when exactly federal employees can expect to see the raise, and a retroactive lump sum payment. They want to know whether it’s realistic for federal employees to see a difference in the upcoming March 15 paycheck. (Rep. Gerry Connolly)
Twelve House Democrats want to give federal employees paid family leave. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. This new version would give all federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave, replacing the patchwork of leave options they currently have to take sick time, care for family members or witness the birth, adoption or fostering of a new child. House Democrats have tried for years to get similar legislation through Congress. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) introduced a similar bill back in 2009. It passed the House but not the Senate. (National Treasury Employees Union)
There is now bipartisan and bicameral backlash against the Interior Department’s newly proposed rule concerning its Freedom of Information Act procedures. In a letter to acting Secretary David Bernhardt, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), along with Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, expressed concerns that the proposed rule appears to restrict public access to DOI’s records and delays processing of FOIA requests in violation of the letter and spirit of FOIA. (Sen. Chuck Grassley)
The IRS is no longer the only agency dealing with scammer phone impersonators. Now it’s also the Department of Homeland Security. DHS’ Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert, saying the agency’s phone numbers have been spoofed and used by people claiming to be from U.S. Immigration (ICE) or other law enforcement agencies. The callers try to obtain personal information with made-up tales of identity theft. The IG has established a hotline for anyone who thinks they may been victims. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
President Donald Trump’s nominee for DHS inspector general promises to keep the office independent and keep the lines of communication with Congress open. Joseph Cuffari told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he’ll especially keep them informed on possible whistleblower retaliation. No date has been set yet for a committee vote on his nomination. DHS OIG has been without a permanent chief since the Obama administration appointee John Roth left in November 2017. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)
The president’s new nominee to become permanent director of the Office of Personnel Management already has support from several federal employee organizations. The Senior Executives Association, Federal Managers Association and three other groups within the Government Managers Coalition wrote to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders to express support for Dale Cabaniss. The groups said Cabaniss has the background necessary to give crucial guidance to federal employees. They reiterated their concern about the lack of permanent leadership at OPM. (Federal News Network)
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is out with the latest edition of his Federal Fumbles waste book. Lankford said this year’s edition focuses more on a lack of good government policy and process than previous editions. He flagged a handful of issues within the federal workforce itself that he said deserves more attention. The special retirement supplement for federal employees who are statutorily required to leave federal service before they’re eligible for Social Security benefits is another issue. He also advocated for many of the Trump administration’s proposals to reorganize government and merge some agencies. (Federal News Network)
Proposed budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency received a strong disapproval from the union which represents a good amount of its employees. The American Federation of Government Employees’ Council 238 said a proposed 5 percent cut to non-defense discretionary spending would impact the EPA’s mission at a time when it’s already cut to the bone. Acting OMB Director Russ Vought proposed the 5 percent cut in an op-ed last week. (American Federation of Government Employees)
Any spare parts the U.S. Marines Corps may need to fix weapons systems are now available to them. The Corps’ new Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell is a 24/7 help desk that points Marines in the right direction to find a part they need. If they still can’t find the part? AMOC will 3D print it. This will alleviate some major headaches for mechanics who couldn’t find parts to fit older equipment. (Federal News Network)
Senators on the Armed Services Committee cautioned the leader of U.S. Transportation Command to be careful as the military privatizes the way it transports service members’ goods during moves. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked TRANSCOM Chief General Steve Lyons for a commitment to keep the needs of families a priority as the command changes the way it moves goods. Some senators said they fear TRANSCOM’s moving services privatization will follow the same route as Defense Department’s privatized housing, which is currently embroiled in a scandal with lead paint, mice and mold. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
President Trump signed a new executive order designed to help federal agencies come up with a better plan to prevent veteran suicides. The EO created an inter-agency task force to develop a health strategy within 12 months. Veteran suicide went up 26 percent between 2005 and 2016. Representatives from the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and DoD will sit on the task force. (White House)
Federal research and development efforts around biofuels, bio products and bio-power have a new overarching framework to follow. An interagency group led by the Agriculture and Energy departments finalized the Bioeconomy Initiative: Implementation Framework to coordinate goals and programs, and address any gaps in research and development. The Biomass Research and Development Board hopes the framework will increase government accountability and efficiency, maximize interagency coordination and accelerate innovative and sustainable technologies to improve national security, economic growth, job creation and environmental quality. (Biomass Research and Development)
The federal market for mergers and acquisitions among contractors remains vibrant. Companies providing professional services to agencies were more active in 2018 in trying to expand their capabilities. New data from Bloomberg Government found 36 percent of all mergers and acquisitions last year were among professional services companies. IT firms accounted for 32 percent, while the defense, aerospace and health sectors accounted for the remaining 32 percent combined. Overall, BGov said 44 percent of all deals were to expand a contractor’s market share or add new expertise versus buying a firm for niche skills or to obtain a spot on a multiple award contract.
A district court judge ordered the General Services Administration to release appraisal information about the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, as well as offers it received for the property. GSA previously redacted the information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. This came after the same judge, in December, ordered GSA to do a more comprehensive search for FBI headquarters records. (Federal News Network)