FDIC employees to get paid parental leave

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  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has struck a three-year bargaining agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union. Part of the agreement includes a new paid parental leave program for FDIC employees. The program would give new employees up to six weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a new child. This is on top of the accommodations employees get through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employees must use the leave within a year of having a new child. NTEU FDIC chapters will hold a vote later this week with members to vote on the agreement before it becomes final. (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
  • A record number of decisions were made this past year by the Board of Veterans Appeals. The board processed a little over 95,000 decisions in fiscal 2019, the most in the board’s history, and 11% more than the previous year. The board said it also held a record number of hearings in 2019, 38% more compared to the previous year. The department credited its success to a modernization effort and a test of a new virtual hearing capability. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claims progress in an important metric. It’s called pendency, how long it takes for a final decision on a patent application. PTO officials said they reached their goal of a 24-month average as of Sept. 30, the lowest pendency in 16 years. This even though last year they received 667,000 applications, twice the number received in 2002. PTO Director Andrei Iancu credits, in part, the use of data analytics in prioritizing and routing cases among examiners. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • The Postal Service has asked its regulatory agency to keep the price of postage stamps at 55 cents. This comes after the D.C. District Court of Appeals struck down a 5-cent rate increase on the price of a first-class postage stamp last month. USPS has also filed a request with the Postal Regulatory Commission to raise rates for shipping and other mail products. (Federal News Network)
  • The president signed two new executive orders to combat what he called “abuse” of American citizens by federal agencies. The orders accuse agencies of abusing their discretion by creating new rules outside the confines of the Administrative Procedures Act. Among other things, they tell agencies to treat all the informal guidance they’ve issued as not legally enforceable, and create searchable databases for that guidance on their public websites. OMB will issue its own guidance in the next 120 days telling agencies how to comply with the new orders. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal prosecutors have charged a Defense Intelligence Agency employee with leaking classified information to two journalists, including one he was dating. Henry Kyle Frese was arrested Wednesday in Virginia. The Justice Department said he accessed five different intelligence reports and gave top secret information about another country’s weapons systems to the reporters, who then published eight articles containing classified information. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy shortened its small business innovative research grants proposal process by 75%. That’s according to James Geurts, assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition. The service hopes to bring in more small businesses to shake up the technologies the Navy uses. Geurts said the Navy is also trying to turn more of the innovation grants into actual follow-on production contracts. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is giving $93 million to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for electronic warfare capabilities. The contract will provide a unique and enduring environment to support the Defense Department’s assets for the use of cyber and electronic warfare effects. Work on the project will be completed by October 2026. (Department of Defense)
  • The National Science Foundation has partnered with a handful of agencies to fast-track research on artificial intelligence. NSF has joined forces with the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Homeland Security and Agriculture to form National AI Institutes. The program consists of two tracks that will issue grants and awards. The planning track aims to look at research useful for NSF and its agency partners. The institute track would look at bigger topics like trustworthy AI, AI-augmented learning, and AI innovations in agriculture. Applicants can submit ideas through Jan. 28. (National Science Foundation)

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