OPM encourages more telework during summer Metro shutdowns

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  • The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has updated its telework and alternative work schedule guidance to allow for the anticipated impact of metro station closures in the Washington, DC metropolitan area this summer. OPM said agencies should allow federal employees to increase their use of telework and adjustable start times. The policy changes reflect the anticipated impact on Metro’s upcoming platform improvement project. Six stations in northern Virginia will be closed from May 25 through Sept. 8. New OPM guidance comes a day after three Virginia congressmen asked OPM acting Director Margaret Weichert to offer more flexibility. (OPM)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has faulted the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for failing to complete a comprehensive inventory of agency programs on time. In fact, it said OMB’s review is a decade overdue. GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said the inventory would help agencies save billions of dollars by creating fewer programs that overlap on existing ones. GAO found agencies saved more than $200 billion between 2011 and 2018 by acting on more than half of its recommendations to close duplicate programs. (Federal News Network)
  • Lawmakers expressed bipartisan skepticism Tuesday for the Trump administration’s proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration (GSA). Members of a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee, along with federal employee unions and groups, the Government Accountability Office, OPM’s acting inspector general and a former OPM director said they haven’t seen enough evidence to show the merger makes sense. They also questioned whether GSA is best equipped to handle and improve OPM’s existing challenges. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said it has finalized its new policy governing how agencies use employees’ and citizens’ identity to verify and authenticate access to systems and data. The much-needed refresh combined many of the changes that came about through the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s special publications over the last five years. Among the changes is the move away from the level of assurance model and toward a risk-based approach. Another is the use of derived credentials where smart cards will not work. The new policy also rescinds five older ones, including the e-authentication memo from 2004.(OMB)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new email subscription service for the public to keep tabs on new lawsuits filed against the agency. The email service comes about a year-and-half after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a directive promoting transparency into litigation against the agency. EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold said the service will help members of the public stay informed on lawsuits that directly impact them. (EPA)
  • The Homeland Security Department said it has enlisted the help of two lawyers as outside advisors. The lawyers, Robert Bonner and Leon Fresco, are both retired federal executives. They will join the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an external committee set up to make recommendations to the secretary. The group met Tuesday. Bonner is a former Drug Enforcement Agency administrator, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, and federal judge. Fresco, a former immigration litigator for the Justice Department and Senate Judiciary Committee staff member, is an immigration attorney providing global immigration representation to businesses and individuals. (Homeland Security)
  • Starting in October of this year, sailors and Navy officers must complete two years of service before they are eligible for tuition assistance. The Navy said the change is due to unprecedented usage and fiscal constraints. The new rules also put a 120-hour cap the number of semester hours a sailor can complete in a career. (Navy)
  • House lawmakers have indicated the desire to give veterans and their survivors a cost of living increase for a third straight year. On Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019. The bill mirrors one signed into law the last two years that gave veterans and their survivors an increase in disability payments that keeps up with inflation. (House Committees)
  • If the proposed independent space force is established, a Space National Guard might not be far away. That’s the hope of Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice. Rice saids he would expect the Space National Guard to operate in the seven states where the guard has space squadrons. The Defense Department still needs congressional approval and funding before the space force becomes a reality. (Federal News Network)
  • The Federal Labor Relations Authority has certified a collective bargaining unit at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service (ERS). A new bargaining unit with the American Federation of Government Employees includes professional and non-professional employees at ERS. The move to unionize comes as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue is preparing to relocate ERS employees to a new location outside of the Washington, DC area. (Federal News Network)
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved the nominations of Mark Greenblatt to serve as Interior Department inspector general, and Daniel Jorjani to serve as the agency’s solicitor. Prior to his nomination, Greenblatt held roles in the IG offices of the Justice Department and the Commerce Department. For the past 10 years … Mary Kendall has served as the acting Interior I-G … but will step down from her position later this month … to serve as deputy I-G at Amtrak. (Energy/Senate)

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