Employees at USDA’s Economic Research Service may choose to not follow their agency to Kansas City

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  • The new local union at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service estimates four out of five employees will decline to relocate out of the national capital region to Kansas City. AFGE polled those ordered to move. 67 employees say they’re moving or may consider moving. Nearly 130 others say they’ll likely decline to though. (American Federation of Government Employees)
  • Federal employees got another step closer to a 3.1% pay raise next year. The House included the raise in its 2020 financial services and general government appropriations bill. It cleared the House with a 224 to 197 vote. The bill would also block the administration’s proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management, with the General Services Administration. It would also block furloughs and reductions-in-force of OPM employees. The Senate has yet to pass any appropriations bill or weigh in on federal pay for next year. (Federal News Network)
  • The House approved $35 million dollars for the Technology Modernization Fund in the fiscal 2020 financial services and general government spending bill. The spending bill doesn’t include an amendment from Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) to increase TMF funding $50 million. The funding falls short of the $150 million proposed in President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent told House lawmakers the fund can remain solvent at these funding levels, but it limits the scope of agency IT optimization projects. (Federal News Network)
  • A new approach to data center consolidation and optimization is out. Agencies closed more than 150 enterprise data centers last year and now armed with a new memo from the Office of Management and Budget have an approach for how to shut down even more in 2019 and beyond. Federal CIO Suzette Kent told the House Oversight and Reform Committee yesterday that the new policy focuses on enabling agencies to be aggressive in closing data centers, while also ensuring efficient operations where a data center is deemed to be a key mission facility. Kent says agencies will have both specific closure goals as well as be expected to meet energy and optimization metrics. (CIO.gov)
  • A proposal to give federal employees paid parental leave may get another shot in Congress. Three House Democrats added the proposal as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Calif.) and Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) introduced the amendment. The measure would give federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a new child. The leave would also apply to federal employees to care for a sick spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition. (House Rules Committee)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has introduced a collective bargaining proposal which would reduce telework to one day a week, cut official time, and make it easier to remove agency employees. It’s set to take effect July 8, but the American Federation of Government Employees filed an unfair labor practice with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to prevent the plan from taking effect. The proposal mirrors unilateral plans introduced over the past year at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Education Department, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services. (Federal News Network)
  • Nearly 80 employees for the Bureau of the Fiscal Service could be relocated from Maryland to West Virginia. But members of the House and Senate hope the bureau will reconsider. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.) have led Maryland Democrats in asking bureau Commissioner Tim Gribben to keep those employees in the D.C. metro area. Bureau officials had plans to relocate up to 450 employees to Parkersburg, West Virginia in 2013, but put off that decision until 2019. Workforce attrition at the bureau has reduced the scope of proposed relocations. (Rep. Anthony Brown)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a new phase in its automated Freedom of Information Act request system. People with a USCIS account can, starting this week, submit requests online for their own records. The agency says that in the next phase, no date yet, users will be able to submit online requests for policy and communication documents, so-called A-files. Still later, they’ll be able to submit requests on someone else’s behalf, and track the request progress online. (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • In an effort to make it easier to use the schedule contracts, the General Services Administration is changing how it categorizes products and services. The agency released a request for information on its proposals to consolidate duplicative special item numbers, and rewriting category descriptions in plain language. Comments are due July 12. (General Services Administration)
  • The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency wants new ideas for its Trojans in Artificial Intelligence program. The goal of the program is to stop adversaries from inserting Trojan behaviors into AI. For example, a Trojan attack could cause a self-driving car to ignore stop signs. The deadline for proposals is the end of July. (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • Derek Tournear is now the acting director of the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency. Tournear is currently the Defense Department’s assistant director for space. The SDA has been in charge of defining and monitoring DOD’S space architecture and will accelerate the development and fielding of new space capabilities since March. The former head of the SDA, Fred Kennedy, left his position last week.
  • The Army is picking up some slack from 2018 in terms of new soldiers joining up. After missing its recruiting goal last year, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey says the service will meet its goals this year. The Army plans to bring in 68,000 soldiers to the active component this year. It also wants to bring in 15,600 to the reserve and 39,000 to the National Guard. Last year, the Army missed its goal by 6,500. The Army plans to build its active end strength by about 2000 soldiers each year until 2024. The low unemployment rate and less people being eligible for service are main factors in the low recruitment rates.
  • Two Senate staffers have been demoted due to misuse of a government aircraft. Politico reports the aides were disciplined after two government jets had to be used to transport Senators to the funeral of former Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran earlier this year. They reportedly booked a government jet for Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), but only allowed Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and themselves aboard and no one else. Therefore, another jet had to be used to transport other members of Congress, costing thousands of dollars. (POLITICO)
  • This year’s Feds Feed Families campaign officially begins. The Agriculture Department held its opening ceremony yesterday. There will be some changes in how USDA tallies the results. Instead of reporting out the pounds of food donated by agency or department, USDA will report out one metric across the federal government every Friday. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

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