Bipartisan efforts to save nearly 1,000 Forest Service jobs are underway

In today's Federal Newscast, House and Senate lawmakers have taken steps to prevent a White House proposal which would result in about 1,000 layoffs at the U.S....

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  • Bipartisan and bicameral efforts are underway to stop the White House’s plans to close some Civilian Conservation Centers and transfer the remaining ones from the Agriculture Department to the Labor Department. Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) introduced legislation that would prohibit the closures of the CCCs in 2019 and 2020. Tester’s bill has bipartisan support. Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) offered up an amendment to the 2020 agriculture appropriations bill that would prevent changes to the Civilian Conservation Centers. The amendment cleared the House Appropriations Committee. The Forest Service said last month it would close nine of them across the country, and would move the remaining 16 to DOL. The move would also lay off about 1,000 Forest Service employees. Montana’s other Sen. Steve Daines (R) said President Donald Trump will keep the Labor Department from closing one of the Job Corps training centers in his state. (National Federation of Federal Employees)
  • House appropriators want to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection $151 million more next year to address staffing shortages along the southern border and other ports of entry. A draft 2020 Homeland Security Appropriations bill includes more funding to hire more CBP officers and agriculture specialists. The draft bill would also fund the construction of a new facility for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on the St. Elizabeths campus in Washington, D.C. (House Appropriations Committee)
  • House appropriators want to give federal employees and themselves a pay raise in 2020. Politico reports 2020 spending bills in the House will not include freezes on congressional pay which have been in place for the last 10 years. Plans call for an increase of $4,500 to congressional salaries to serve as a cost of living adjustment. Salaries have been frozen at $174,000 ever since Congress decided to suspend automatic COLAs in 2009. (POLITICO)
  • The House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee is recommending a tenant bill of rights and new oversight on management companies to protect military families living in privatized housing. It would give service members a dispute resolution mechanism, prompt housing maintenance and information about past issues with a house. The provisions stem from reports of mold, mice and lead paint in some on-base military privatized housing. (Federal News Network)
  • The military is likely to get some emergency relief for bases hit by natural disasters over the past year. Congress is sending Trump a bill with $3 billion to fix installations like Tyndall Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune, both of which were devastated by hurricanes. The bill gives the Air Force about $1.7 billion and the Navy nearly $1 billion. The rest of the funds would go to the Coast Guard and Army National Guard. The Air Force was forced to postpone its cleanup efforts at Tyndall earlier this year because it ran out of funds.
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority Chair Colleen Kiko tried to convince members on the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she has no anti-union bias. Democrats on the government operations subcommittee said her recent decisions discredit the agency’s role in administering positive labor-management relationships. Kiko said the decision to close two regional offices made sense because of the agency’s dwindling workload. She also cited her own interpretation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute as the reason why she decided to no longer recognize FLRA’s own union. (Federal News Network)
  • Andrew Saul’s quest to become the permanent commissioner of the Social Security Administration is finally ending. After having unanimously been approved by the Senate Finance Committee twice, he was finally approved by the full Senate to be the 30th commissioner of SSA. Saul’s term as commissioner runs through Jan. 19, 2025. SSA hasn’t had a permanent commissioner since 2013 when Michael Astrue left the agency. (Sen. Ben Cardin)
  • The General Services Administration pre-approved a group of vendors to bid on contracts from agencies for their Centers of Excellence IT modernization projects. GSA made 22 awards under its CoE Discovery Blanket Purchase Agreement. The three-year vehicles have a ceiling of $100 million. The awards focus on seven IT modernization areas, including cloud adoption and data analytics. GSA expected the BPA to start accepting task orders before the end of this year. (General Services Administration)
  • The much-anticipated federal data strategy is out and its goal is to change the way agencies use data to improve operations and deliver services. Suzette Kent, the federal chief information officer, said the new federal data strategy gives agencies 40 goals to improve the accessibility, value and security of what many call the 21st century’s new oil. The Office of Management and Budget released the federal data strategy yesterday detailing objectives around two main themes: Practices and principles. Kent said the strategy brings together recent laws, policies and executive orders where data is the connective tissue. She said among the near term deliverables to include a data science training, credentialing catalog and data protection toolkits. (Federal News Network)
  • It may be out, but the White House still seeks comments on its national data strategy. The comprehensive Federal Data Strategy, published Tuesday after long anticipation, is still open for comments. Next on deck from the Office of Management and Budget will be a follow-up to the release, which the White House called the Federal Data Strategy Action Plan. That, too, will come out this year. Comments for the third round for the data strategy are due July 5. (Federal Register)

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