NTEU says bar set too high in proving age discrimination

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  • The National Treasury Employees Union says the Supreme Court should reverse a lower court’s decision on age discrimination in the federal workforce. NTEU filed a legal brief in support of a Veterans Affairs employee, who says he suffered age discrimination at the agency. The lower court says federal employees must prove age was the main factor in any personnel actions taken against them at an agency. NTEU says such evidence usually doesn’t exist though, and employees shouldn’t need to prove it was the reason for a removal. (National Treasury Employees Union)
  • Senate appropriators are filling the Homeland Security Department’s bank account with across the board increases in fiscal 2020. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee approved next year’s spending bill yesterday. The subcommittee allocated more than $70 billion for DHS, including $2 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. CISA would get $1 billion to protect federal civilian networks from cyber attacks, which includes increases in funding to reduce the backlog of vulnerability assessments. The bill now goes to the full Appropriations Committee for a vote. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • Senate appropriators are sending a message to the Interior Department. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment cleared its 2020 spending bill yesterday. The measure doesn’t include funding to support Interior’s proposed Bureau of Land Management relocation to Colorado and other western states. The bill did include $133 million more for the National Park Service and a 2% bump to Park Service operations. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to pass the Interior appropriations bill later this week. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • Vendors should sharpen their pencils as a new wave of IT modernization contracts have hit the streets. The Department of Housing and Urban Development kicked off phase two of its IT modernization Centers of Excellence initiative with the release of three solicitations. HUD and the General Services Administration, which is providing technical support through its Technology Transformation Service, posted the details of the request for quotes yesterday. HUD is seeking industry’s help to buy a cloud-based electronic records management service. It also wants vendors to assist in setting up its chief data officer’s office and consolidating and improving its customer service efforts. Bids on all three RFQs are due in early October. (Federal News Network)
  • Employees at the Forest Service and the Department of Health and Human Services have said that unilateral labor contracts at their agencies have hurt morale. That was the focus of a federal employee union rally, protesting President Donald Trump’s executive orders aimed at rolling back collective bargaining rights, cutting official time, and making it easier to fire workers. Those executive orders remain at the center of an ongoing legal battle between the unions and the White House, but an injunction has kept many of the provisions from going into effect. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is continuing its trend of local pitch days to bring innovative ideas and small businesses to different commands and bases. The Advanced Technology and Training Center held its first pitch day alongside the Air Force Sustainment Center at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia last weekend. It focused on using virtual reality in aircraft maintenance training. The pitch day puts businesses with good ideas on contract the same day. The event was focused on virtual reality technologies to help with aircraft maintenance training. (Air Force)
  • Small businesses are being asked to help with expanding the Navy’s use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research program is soliciting ideas that can be prototyped within a year and a half to two years. That’s in comparison to the current timeline of three to four years. Companies will receive funding in three stages: feasibility, demonstration and commercialization of the product. (Department of Defense)
  • The Army is rethinking how its use of fuel may impact the environment. Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, Army Futures Command deputy commanding general, says the Army needs to push forward with alternative power sources and hybrid electric power. Wesley says the Army needs to stop relying on classic forms of fuel like oil because they are easily disrupted by near-peer competitors like China and Russia. The Army currently uses billions of barrels of oil a year. (Federal News Network)
  • Ron Hansen, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who plead guilty earlier this year to espionage charges, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Hansen was arrested for attempting to hand over sensitive defense information to the Chinese intelligence service in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Department of Justice)
  • Meanwhile, a former Army Reserve employee got 18 months in prison for stealing more than $400,000 from the 63rd Regional Support Command at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California. Ramon Torry admitted to developing a kickback scheme with a production company that was contracted to create PSA’s for the command. (Department of Justice)
  • Remember former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s secret phone booth? It was one of the many purchases congressional watchdogs lambasted the former agency head for prior to his departure. Well after more than a year, the agency has still not filed a report on the matter. The Government Accountability Office sent a letter to congressional leaders this week, saying EPA has still not filed the report on the purchase. Agencies are required by law to report on all violations of the Antideficiancy Act. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler launched what he calls the Water Workforce Initiative. The goal is to help local water system authorities replenish the rank employees who are aging and eligible to retire over the next few years. The initiative includes an agreement with the Veterans Affairs Department to help vets become aware of water career opportunities. EPA also plans a public awareness campaign in conjunction with the American Water Works Association. (Environmental Protection Agency)

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