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The Pentagon is proposing a new rule which would change how it pays some contractors. The Defense Department is looking to require all fixed price contracts be paid out through performance-based contractual payments. The Defense Acquisition Regulations System said it will reduce oversight and compliance costs for the department. It will also help contractors manage their cash flow, while reducing their oversight and compliance costs, allowing them to focus on technical and schedule progress. Comments on the proposed rule are due by July 1. (Federal Register)
New developments in the contract dispute between the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Treasury Employee Union. HHS is preparing to impose a new contract on its employees. NTEU and HHS have been locked in disputes over the two parties’ collective bargaining agreement for months. The Federal Service Impasses Panel recently ruled on 23 contract articles and sent six other articles back to the bargaining table. NTEU said HHS can’t impose a new contract, because those six articles still have unfinished business. But NTEU said HHS is planning to impose new terms by May 2. (National Treasury Employees Union)
At last, President Donald Trump has nominated a third person to the fill the Merit Systems Protection Board. He nominated Chad Bungard, who is currently the deputy commissioner for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight. He also once served as a general counsel for the MSPB. The board has been without all members for nearly two months. Trump’s two other nominees have already cleared the Senate committee, but haven’t gotten a confirmation vote yet.
Thrift Savings Plan participants are encouraged to set up two-factor authentication for their online accounts. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said though the new feature isn’t mandatory, it’s testing to see if it should be in the future. Participants were also especially active in rolling money into the Thrift Savings Plan this last month. The TSP said participants rolled in $30 million more in March than in previous months.
Participation in federal telework programs dropped in 2017. The Office of Personnel Management said participation fell from 51% in 2016 to 48% in 2017. That’s despite a slight bump in the number of employees who are eligible to telework. OPM said fewer opportunities to participate in situational telework, attrition, and inaccurate agency telework data reporting are some of the main reasons behind the decrease. Several agencies found ways to increase eligibility and participation by making specific efforts to raise employee awareness about telework programs. (Federal News Network)
A recent change by the Office of Personnel Management faces bipartisan disapproval. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent a letter to OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert, asking she revoke a proposed rule which would expand the seven-year criminal background check lookback to include if an applicant had ever participated in any pretrial diversion or intervention programs. The senators said Congress has taken steps to help convicted criminals find legal employment after rehabilitation and that this is a step backwards. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
Is a $700 billion budget all the Defense Department needs for 2020? A new report from the Center for American Progress questions if DoD is spending money in a way which actually enhances national security. The report recommends cutting money from the modernization of the nuclear triad and decreasing operations and maintenance spending. DoD is requesting $750 billion for 2020. (American Progress)
The Army and its Maneuver Center of Excellence is teaming up with the Defense Innovation Unit to come up with new drone capabilities alongside commercial companies. The Army hopes to get on-demand, eye-in-the-sky technologies that are inexpensive and can be carried in a rucksack. The Defense Innovation Unit specializes in working with nontraditional defense companies to find creative solutions for the military.
The depots in charge of keeping military equipment up and running are in very rough shape, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office. GAO said the average facility conditions at 12 of the 21 depots it reviewed were rated as “poor.” That’s partly because of age and not enough upkeep. And the equipment inside those buildings is aging, too. Only three of the depots had an average equipment age that was lower than its expected service life. The report said the conditions have led to widespread delays in repairing weapons systems, but DoD isn’t tracking the issue well enough to understand the full extent of the problem. (Government Accountability Office)
More information is needed from the IRS on whether paying private debt collectors is worth it. The Government Accountability Office said the IRS has kept Congress mostly in the dark on whether private debt collection brings in more money than it costs. GAO said that may not have been the case last year when the IRS told Congress private debt collectors brought in $89 million and cost the agency $67 million. But GAO found more than $50 million of those collected debts go back into an IRS fund, to pay for current and future debt collection program expenses. (Government Accountability Office)