DC delegate wants federal employees to have short-term disability insurance, for a fee

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  • Washington D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wants to give federal employees short term disability insurance, even if it means they’ll have to pay for most it themselves. Norton has introduced the Federal Employee Short-Term Disability Insurance Act. While it gives employees insurance, They would be responsible for all of the premiums. But the disability insurance benefits can last for up to a year. Norton says it would replace employees’ lost income due to a non-work related injury, illness or pregnancy. (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton)
  • The injunction on the president’s workforce executive orders has expired. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week denied federal employee unions a chance to rehear their case on President Trump’s executive orders before a full panel of judges. The court’s ruling effectively lifted the injunction seven days later. Lifting the injunction allows agencies to begin implementing the executive orders. Federal employee unions say they’ll continue to fight the executive orders. (Federal News Network)
  • The prospect of the Office of Personnel Management merging with the General Services Administration has crippled OPM over the last 11 months. Current and former OPM employees tell Federal News Network, discussions about the merger over the past year have done lasting damage to the agency. They say the merger has caused institutional talent to leave, work to be delayed and morale to tank. OPM data doesn’t show a mass exodus. But some of OPM’s mission areas have lost dozens of employees and senior executives. (Federal News Network)
  • Alan Thomas is leaving the Federal Acquisition Service in a much different than place than when joined more than two years ago. To many, Thomas, the outgoing commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, left a lasting mark on the agency. Thomas, who announced yesterday he is returning to the private sector, made clear progress around improving the people, processes and technology of FAS. In his farewell email to staff, Thomas pointed to improvements around key measures such as satisfaction and loyalty intentions. He also says FAS’s operating budget moved from the red to the black ahead of his own 2020 deadline. Julie Dunne will replace Thomas as FAS commissioner on an acting basis. (Federal News Network)
  • Government data analysts have plenty of data to work with, but face a shortage of talent and tech tools. That’s according to new research from REI Systems, ACT-IAC, and Johns Hopkins University. In a survey of more than 100 government analysts, respondents said the hiring and retention of data-science talent remained their top challenge. And while a quarter of respondents said artificial intelligence holds promise for their work, only 4% said their agencies had actually implemented AI or machine learning tools.
  • The Energy Department is doubling down on its investment in artificial intelligence. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the agency plans to invest $13 million in five research projects, aimed at improving AI as a tool for scientific discovery and prediction. Those projects include scientists from nine different research institutions, including the agency’s national labs, as well as academic partners. (Department of Energy)
  • Agencies spent more than $260 million through online commercial portals last year to buy products and services, and the General Services Administration wants to get control of that spending. GSA released the solicitation to test online commercial marketplaces. The proof of concept will use multiple third-party e-marketplace platforms offering a wide array of products across multiple categories. The pilot portals will not be allowed to offer IT or medical products because of supply chain risks. Bids on the RFP are due November 1. (General Services Administration)
  • The Food and Drug Administration issued an urgent warning about medical device cybersecurity. It concerns Urgent-11, the name of a vulnerability in networked medical devices. The bug has been known for some time, but FDA says it has late information on the source and ways to avoid Urgent-11 risks. The danger lies in IPnet, an old communications program used by always-on equipment like medical devices. Devices use a variety of operating systems. FDA advises vendors to work with health care providers to develop risk mitigation plans. (Food and Drug Administration)
  • U.S. Transportation Command says capable businesses have been responding to their request for a company to manage the movement of goods during permanent changes of station. The contract would oversee about 20% of the U.S. household goods moving market by 2021. Critics are worried DoD’s plan may take the same road as military housing privatization, which led to lead paint intoxication and pest infestation. (Federal News Network)
  • Army Futures Command has announced a five year, $65 million collaboration with Texas A&M University to support research into new technologies that will modernize the Army. Futures Command is asking the university system to focus on areas like hypersonic and laser weaponry and materials for withstanding hypersonic blasts, coordinated maneuvering of air and ground vehicles and resilient computer networks for autonomous vehicles to share up-to-the-moment battlefield information. (Texas A&M University)