Postal Service retains title of Americans’ favorite agency

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  • While its bottom line is still a concern, the Postal Service continues to be the nation’s favorite federal agency. A new Gallup survey has USPS retaining its spot as the number one rated agency. 74% of participants say its doing an excellent or good job. (Gallup)
  • A timeline has been set for the new Cyberspace Solarium Commission which aims to develop a governmentwide response to cyber threats against the U.S. The committee held its first meeting in the White House’s sunroom. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), one of the members says the group expects to release its recommendations by the end of the year. (Federal News Network)
  • Twelve Taxpayer Assistance Centers were closed by the IRS last year, and the agency failed to give Congress a heads up. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration finds the agency fell short of a mandate in the fiscal 2018 spending bill, requiring it to notify lawmakers about upcoming closures. TIGTA recommends the IRS to assess how those closures might impact taxpayers’ ability to seek help from the agency. (Department of the Treasury)
  • The Pentagon is struggling to meet a Congressional mandate to beef up civilian oversight of its special operations forces, according to a new audit. The budget for special operations has doubled since the 9/11 attacks, but Congress expressed concerns more than two years ago that SOF forces aren’t adequately overseen by civilian leaders. The 2017 Defense authorization bill called for a more robust Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. But the Government Accountability Office says most of the actions DoD has taken since then have no clear implementation timelines, and the office still doesn’t have a detailed plan to increase its workforce. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A congressional mandate for the Federal Communications Commission may not be getting the attention it needs. Senate Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and House Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) wrote to FCC chair Ajit Pai to express concern the commission’s review of certain equal employment opportunity rules for the broadcasting sector is not addressing the status of a form which is meant to collect data about broadcast workforce diversity. They say other assessments have shown underrepresentation in broadcasting persist, but there is still no dataset to allow congress to analyze the issue. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
  • The Trump administration wants to use money meant for Pell Grants for college to help NASA get back to the moon. The White House sent a budget amendment to Congress that calls for using an additional $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money for other budget priorities, including an infusion of new cash for NASA. (Associated Press)
  • FEMA hired a new chief information officer after almost a year without a permanent leader. Lytwaive Hutchinson joined FEMA in early May. She comes to the agency after serving as the vice director of the Joint Service Provider in the Defense Information Systems Agency. Along with FEMA, GSA brought on a new IT executive. Reynold Schweickhardt joined the agency as a senior technology advisor after spending the last 25 years in the legislative branch. He previously served as the Government Publishing Office’s CIO, and most recently as the House of Representatives’ Director of Technology Policy. (Federal News Network)
  • The Federal CIO Council rolled out a new way to test the IT skills of federal employees. The first interagency coding challenge will test federal employees over the next three months on three separate skill assessments. The Federal CIO Council launched the code challenge May 6. The first competition runs through June 9 and focuses on front end coding using scripts like HTML, JAVA and user experience concepts. The second challenge begins June 10 and focuses on problem solving skills, coding knowledge and fundamentals. The third challenge begins July 8 and is testing what participants know about DevOps. The council is using the challenges, which are common in the private sector, to source and pre-qualify IT talent. (Federal CIO Council)
  • Over 150 House members say they’re concerned the Social Security Administration is advancing bargaining proposals resembling some provisions in the president’s three workforce executive orders. One of SSA’s proposals is charging the American Federation of Government Employees to use government-owned office space and supplies. The agency also suggested cuts to official time. House members wrote to SSA Administrator Nancy Berryhill with their concerns. Lawmakers say the proposals appear to circumvent a federal district court decision that invalidated nine key provisions of the President’s executive orders. (Federal News Network)
  • Health and Human Services and the National Treasury Employees Union disagree over where they stand with their collective bargaining negotiations. The Federal Service Impasses Panel rewrote the majority of bargaining articles for the two parties. HHS tells Federal News Network, it’s preparing to implement those articles across the agency and will issue implementation guidance soon. But NTEU says the two parties have finalized six articles, and negotiations should continue. (Federal News Network)
  • A controversial regulatory agency says it intends to put its own rules out for public review and possible repeal. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cited a section of its enabling legislation requiring it to review rules within ten years of publishing them. Reviews include a rule’s complexity and effects on small business. CFPB issued both a review plan and its intention to examine a specific 2009 rule barring banks from assessing certain overdraft fees. Reviews have a 60-day public comment period. (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

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