Congress looking for ways to give TSA officers a raise

In today's Federal Newscast, members of the House Homeland Security Committee are asking leaders at the Transportation Security Administration what it can do to...

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  • There appears to be bipartisan support among members of Congress to find a way to pay transportation security officers more. Members of the House Homeland Security Committee asked acting deputy Transportation Security Administration Administrator Patricia Cogswell, what they could do to help the agency pay its officers more. Cogswell said the budget is the biggest impediment. A group of TSA leaders and union representatives came up a with a series of other recommendations to improve employee retention and performance management. Those recommendations should be made public in a few weeks. (House Homeland Security Committee)
  • The Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), introduced a pared-down version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. He called it the “skinny NDAA,” and it deals mostly with quality of life and pay issues that will expire by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t reauthorize them. It’s meant as a backstop in case the House and Senate can’t reach a resolution on the must-pass legislation by the end of December. (Sen. James Inhofe)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he’ll introduce new legislation to prevent the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board from exposing Thrift Savings Plan assets to Chinese financial holdings. The TSP planned to move the I fund to a new index that tracks emerging markets, including China, in mid-2020. The Board reconsidered those plans earlier this week. But it hasn’t decided yet to reverse course. Rubio called the board’s indecision “unacceptable.” He’s part of a bipartisan group of senators who are pushing back on the TSP’s plans to move the I fund to a new index. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is threatening formal action against Balfour Beatty Communities for issues with their privatized military housing. A letter from John Henderson, Air Force assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, says the company’s failures at Tinker Air Force base raise serious life, health and safety concerns. The Air Force wants Balfour Beatty to submit a comprehensive improvement plan. The letter states that unless there is prompt and substantial improvement, the Air Force will initiate formal dispute measures.
  • The 16th Air Force, also known as Air Force Cyber, launched an initiative to streamline its offensive and defensive cyber weapons. The program, called “12N12” will reduce and consolidate tools, systems and applications that operators and analysts use for cybersecurity and defense missions. The consolidation will finish by July 2020. Currently, in some cases there are up to 70 applications cyber operators use. Lessening the number of programs will make it easier for airmen do their jobs in cyberspace. (Air Force)
  • The Pentagon said the White House didn’t interfere with its JEDI Cloud contract. Dana Deasy, DoD’s chief information officer, said political concerns couldn’t have played a role in last week’s decision to give the contract to Microsoft. He said the decision was made by a source selection panel whose names have been intentionally kept anonymous. Deasy told the Senate Armed Services Committee that group of procurement experts made the final call, and that to the best of his knowledge, none of them were ever contacted by the White House or anyone else. (Federal News Network)
  • A contract officer representative from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a small business owner are being charged with 31 counts of bribery and wire fraud related to small business set-aside contracts. The Justice Department alleges Richard Vaughan took bribes from a service-disabled-veteran-owned business in exchange for preferential treatment in awarding certain VA contracts and purchase card orders, and certifying payments on deficient invoices submitted by the company for work that was unnecessary or never performed. DOJ also charged Donald Garner, the owner of Veteran Ability, LLC. If convicted both defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for the most serious charges in the indictment. (Department of Justice)
  • VA said it has a plan to finish legacy appeals by the end of 2022. The department finalized this plan as a way to tackle the appeals on claims decisions that were made before Congress passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act in 2017. The legislation gave veterans three paths to pursue their claims. VA says these options have prompted veterans to file more claims than before, but the inventory is down. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The Social Security Administration is ending telework for some 12,000 employees. SSA field operations, customer service and other support staff to the deputy commissioner can no longer telework starting Nov. 8. The agency said its decision coincided with the start of its new collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees. The AFGE contract gave deputy commissioners discretion to set new telework policies for previously eligible employees. (Federal News Network)
  • New data may be surprising about how agencies are spending their IT budgets. Agencies are spending less on shared services, but way more on managed services. The cloud is up and workers under 30 are down. These are among the latest trends from the Professional Services Council’s 2019 Vision Forecast released yesterday. PSC said agency spending on shared services dropped 17% last year, which is surprising given the administration’s push for this approach. At the same time, departments doubled their spend on managed services to $10 billion and spending on cloud computing services increased by 58%. (Professional Services Council)
  • The Treasury Department has launched a human capital dashboard to keep track of components and program offices with a higher percentage of retirement-eligible employees. The dashboard is part of a plan to make data-driven decision-making a priority. Department data has already pointed to an aging IRS workforce. About half of its employees will be eligible to retire in the next two years. (Federal News Network)
  • A reported staff exodus from the federal Office of the Chief Information Security Officer, has raised concerns from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). The lawmaker sent a letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, saying the workforce shortage could make the White House vulnerable to a data breach. Lieu cited reporting from Axios, which found at least a dozen officials have resigned or been pushed out of the agency. Lieu has asked Mulvaney if the federal CISO office expects to make new hires soon. (Rep. Ted Lieu)

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