CBP joins preparation efforts for Hurricane Dorian’s arrival

In today's Federal Newscast, Customs and Border Protection detailed its preparations for the pass-through of Hurricane Dorian.

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  • Customs and Border Protection detailed its preparations for the pass-through of Hurricane Dorian. CBP said its Air and Marine Operations pulled in airplanes, helicopters and crews from as far away as Tuscon, Arizona, and staged them at its Miami Air and Marine Branch. From there they will assist state and local first responders with search and rescue, first aid, and security. Activities are orchestrated by CBP Region 4, which covers much of the southeast U.S. including the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. (Customs and Border Protection)
  • President Donald Trump reversed course and announced plans to give civilian employees a pay raise next year. The 2.6% raise is effective Jan. 1. The move is a surprise, because Trump recommended a pay freeze for federal employees in his 2020 budget proposal. Locality pay rates are frozen at 2019 levels. The president’s new proposal differs from the 3.1% pay raise the House passed earlier this year. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies’ employee health and wellness programs are a mixed bag. The Office of Personnel Management evaluated agencies’ work-life, health and wellness programs in its annual Well-Check assessment. The average score for agencies was a 67% while 181 worksites from 31 different agencies participated in this year’s assessment. OPM said the NASA Ames Research Center, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Region 2, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters were the top-three scorers. OPM said nutrition and lactation support are two specific areas where agencies need to improve. Agencies are required by law to provide private space and reasonable time for nursing. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • Federal employee unions are asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the ongoing legal battle over the president’s executive orders on collective bargaining and official time. A three-judge panel ruled back in July that the U.S. District Court for the District didn’t have jurisdiction to invalidate pieces of the president’s EOs. Unions said a full court should reconsider their case because the first panel didn’t rule on the legal merits of the president’s executive orders as a whole. The full appeals court must decide now whether to take up the case. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Science Foundation named the winner of its Career Compass Challenge. Amy Huber with the private-sector company Jobzology, created the winning prototype. The NSF challenge asked for prototypes of an IT platform that could help federal employees identify new skills, and the training needed to pivot to emerging jobs. Huber’s prototype is called Pathway-U. It measures users’ interests, personality traits and workplace preferences to recommend specific careers. NSF launched the Career Compass Challenge as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to reskill the federal workforce for new kinds of work. (National Science Foundation)
  • Many Naval bases in the southeastern U.S. are restricted to mission-essential personnel this morning. To prepare for Hurricane Dorian, officials have authorized evacuations from Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay along the Florida and Georgia coasts. The Navy began telling its personnel and their families to head toward designated “safe zones” away from the storm’s path yesterday afternoon.
  • If Congress allows the creation of the Space Force, the National Guard said it will establish a Space National Guard. National Guard officials said a new Guard branch is needed to align mission, requirements and funding to the Space Force. The Space National Guard will be set up in tandem with the Space Force. The Guard does not expect any initial cost for the new branch since it will be moving existing units into it. (Federal News Network)
  • Two contracts awarded by the Army last week look to advance the fielding of a prototype hypersonic weapon by 2023. Hypersonic weapons are one of the Army and Defense Department’s top priorities for repelling near-peer competitors. The two contracts total about $700 million, and will produce the glide body and systems integration prototypes for the weapon. The awards were given to Dynetics and Lockheed Martin through the Army’s Rapid Capabilities Office. (Army)
  • The Food and Drug Administration is making it easier to use more secure cloud services. FDA hired a contractor to help them access FISMA high cloud services. Under a $1 million contract, Equinix will provide the agency the ability to transfer data and applications to the cloud while meeting the strictest security controls. The contract will also simplify how the FDA acquires, implements and manages individual connections to each of its cloud service providers. Additionally, the agency will receive disaster recovery support with high speed direct connections to multiple cloud providers. The agency said the contract will extend its network infrastructure footprint and increase its security and performance through these direct connections. (FedBizOpps)
  • The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is leading a new board of experts to review and provide advice on the future of quantum computing. The National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee will look into quantum information science and technology research ideas, as well as development, demonstrations, standards, education, technology transfers, commercial application and national security economic concerns. President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the advisory board last week. (White House)
  • The Department of Homeland Security plans to start using fake social media accounts to help enforce immigration law. A privacy impact statement published on Friday sets guidelines for how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will use fictitious accounts. It said investigators aren’t allowed to “friend” or “follow” people they’re investigating, but they can use the accounts to look for information about potential threats posed by people immigrating to the U.S., signs of immigration fraud, or systematic vulnerabilities in the immigration system. It’s not clear how the procedures will work with the policies of platforms like Facebook or Twitter, which specifically ban fake accounts. (Federal News Network)
  • New challenges for DHS lie in its quest to relocate to a consolidated D.C. campus. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management subcommittee, said up to 30% of the Saint Elizabeths campus in Southeast Washington is unstable to build on, because of what the General Service Administration has called “anticipated slope instabilities.” Paul highlighted the decade-long project in his latest report on wasteful federal spending. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency expects to release updates to its Freedom of Information Act policy and procedures in December at the urging of its inspector general. This comes after the agency updated its FOIA regulations in June, allowing political appointees to review documents before release. The IG said the agency has completed work on 13 pending FOIA recommendations, including strengthening recordkeeping for agency text messages. (Environmental Protection Agency)

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