Legislators try for 10th time to get seniors bigger COLA

In today's Federal Newscast, legislation in both the House and Senate aims to guarantee every senior a Social Security cost of living adjustment with an annual ...

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  • Federal retirees could receive their largest cost of living increase in almost a decade. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced companion bills to guarantee every senior a Social Security cost of living adjustment with an annual floor of no less than 3%. The bill would also update the formula that the government uses to determine the COLA, from the Consumer Price Index to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. This is the 10th year that Engel has introduced this bill. (Rep. Eliot Engel)
  • Nearly all federal employees have received the 2019 retroactive pay raise. The Office of Personnel Management said less than 1% of federal employees have not gotten the retroactive raise yet. Many of those employees are at the IRS, but the agency said the last adjustments will be given out June 29. IRS told the National Treasury Employees Union it recently finished making manual updates needed to process retroactive payments. The last adjustments for IRS employees will be paid on June 29. (Federal News Network)
  • Members of Congress are supposed to weigh in on the 2020 federal pay raise this week before the July Fourth recess. The House Rules Committee is marking up the 2020 financial services and general government appropriations bill. House appropriators have already cleared a 3.1% pay raise for civilian federal employees next year. The Senate hasn’t yet made its own pay proposal. (House Rules Committee)
  • The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board will re-align its lifecycle funds near the end of 2020. The board approved a plan back in 2017 to start offering lifecycle funds in five-year increments as opposed to the current 10. The FRTIB said the change will reflect funds that more closely align with their participants’ anticipated retirement dates. The TSP currently offers L-2030, L-2040 and L-2050 funds. The funds next year will include L-2025, L-2035, L-2045 and similar options. (Federal News Network)
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) wants to give the governmentwide effort to modernize legacy technology a boost. He introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2020 Financial Services and General Government spending bill which would add $15 million to the Technology Modernization Fund. The House Appropriations Committee approved $35 million for the TMF. Connolly’s amendment would push the IT loan program to $50 million, which is still well below the administration request of $150 million. The full House is expected to vote on the bill later today. (House Rules Committee)
  • There hasn’t been a permanent director of the Government Publishing Office in two years, and it doesn’t look like one will be appointed anytime soon. The White House withdrew the nomination of House Administration Committee staff member Robert Tapella. He served as the head of GPO under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. President Donald Trump submitted Tapella’s nomination last June, but the Senate never scheduled a confirmation hearing. (White House)
  • With Army Secretary Mark Esper also serving as acting defense secretary, the Army is rearranging positions to fill his role. Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy will assume additional responsibilities as a senior official performing the duties of the Army secretary. Additionally, Army General Counsel Jim McPherson will take on the responsibilities of the service undersecretary.
  • The Defense Department renamed its security clearance agency as part of an overall take over of the background investigation process. The Defense Security Service is now the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency or DCSA. The agency will be headed by Acting Director Charlie Phalen starting July 1. The new agency will take over the National Background Investigations Bureau on October 1. A senior DoD official said DCSA plans to bring the security clearance backlog down to 300,000 by the end of fiscal 2020. The backlog currently stands at about 400,000. (Federal News Network)
  • Less than a year out from the 2020 population count, the Census Bureau’s cloud-based IT systems remain vulnerable. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General has found in the rush to get everything ready for a test in April 2018, the bureau failed to secure the most privileged user accounts for each of its cloud environments. The IG office said the vulnerability stems from bureau officials rushing to have everything ready for an end-to-end test in April 2018. The Census Bureau has agreed with the IG’s recommendations, and said it has a fix in place for its cloud vulnerabilities. (Oversight.gov)
  • It’s official, agencies are now cloud smart, not cloud first. Application rationalization takes center stage in the final cloud smart strategy the Office of Management and Budget released yesterday. It is the one major change since OMB issued the draft document nine months ago. OMB told agencies that rationalizing the number of applications will let them more easily improve service delivery and save money. Overall, cloud smart continues to focus on three pillars to move IT modernization forward: Security, procurement and the workforce. Federal CIO Suzette Kent said the strategy tries to address historic barriers to moving to the cloud and incorporates the entire CXO community to adopt these services. (White House)
  • Despite a grim financial forecast for the Postal Service, it didn’t meet its goal to limit overtime hours for employees. The agency’s Office of Inspector General said USPS spent more than  $1 billion on overtime in fiscal 2018. That’s $358 million above its target for the year. Postmaster General Megan Brennan recently told Congress the Postal Service will run of cash by 2024 without legislation to shape its business model. (U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General)
  • The Harriet Tubman $20 bill may yet see the light of day. The Treasury Department inspector general promised to look into why and how the roll out of a new twenty still isn’t scheduled. Treasury originally planned to release the bill, bearing a picture of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, next year, to coincide with passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Tubman bill was delayed while Treasury redesigns the $10 and $50 bills for better security. (Associated Press)

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