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The General Services Administration, in a federal register notice, reiterated a policy prohibiting employees from sleeping in their offices or the buildings they work in. It’s not specifically barred by the Federal Management Regulation, but the practice comes under rules for hazards or disturbances. GSA says it’s gotten questions about sleeping, and says it’s only okay during an emergency or if expressly authorized by a higher official. (Federal Register)
Hiring 1,100 new employees to staff its public facing field and regional offices is on the agenda for the Social Security Administration. SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul described the steps he’s taking to improve customer service in a message to the public. Also part of the plan, agency field offices will no longer close early on Wednesdays, and an end to the SSA telework program is another. Saul says he supports work-life balance initiatives. But a time of workload crisis isn’t the moment to experiment with working from home. (Social Security Administration)
No recommendations to establish new locality pay areas for the coming year have been made by the Federal Salary Council. 38 regions across the country have expressed interest in becoming their own locality pay areas. But they don’t meet the highly specific criteria needed to earn their own locality areas. The council is still debating a wide variety of changes to the methodology used to make those decisions, but members haven’t agreed. The president’s pay agent is still considering a series of other recommendations from the council. (Federal News Network)
The Office of Management and Budget has answered 34 questions about how agencies should implement President Trump’s executive order on the proper use of guidance. The directive says agencies should review all policy and guidance to make sure they’re not forcing citizens or businesses to legally meet specific requirements not included in any law. The implementation memo tells agencies that by February 28th, they much establish a single, searchable, website containing or linking to, all of the agencies’ respective guidance documents currently in effect. (White House)
A list of the top management challenges for 2020 has been released by the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office. Some familiar topics made the list, like improving cyber security, and better financial management, implementing timely and effective actions on financial management, and countering global terrorism. However, a few new topics made an appearance. One is ensuring the welfare and well-being of service members and their families. Another new topic focuses on supply chain management and security. (Department of Defense Office of Inspector General)
The Justice Department is leading a new task force to crack down on federal procurement fraud. The anti-fraud group will initially bring in staff from 13 U.S. Attorney’s offices and DOJ headquarters, plus representatives from the Defense Department, Postal Service and General Services Administration’s inspector general offices. Officials say they want to use antitrust law to ferret out bid-rigging from the federal procurement system. Besides pursuing criminal and civil cases, they say they’ll help educate agency acquisition officials to look for signs that vendors are colluding with each other to fix prices at above-market levels. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force’s Education and Training Command announced that ideas to transform space warfighting won the 2020 Spark Tank. The Spark Tank works much like the Shark Tank, but within the service. One team of airmen suggested transforming low-fidelity training into an actual physical area where space operators can train. Another team’s project addresses gaps in technical space operations and uses software to help airmen think more critically in space. Each team will receive 2,500 dollars to further their project. (Air Force)
The General Services Administration yesterday awarded 75 vendors a spot on the Second Generation Information Technology or 2GIT vehicle. The five year, $5.5 billion blanket purchase agreement contract included 56 small businesses out of the 75 awards. The contract replaces the Air Force NETCENTS-2 contract, which the service awarded in 2015 and spent more than $3 billion on over the last four-plus years. 2GIT covers five broad areas like network and end user equipment. Unsuccessful bidders could still protest the awards under 2GIT. (Federal News Network)
A governmentwide Chief Data Officers Council will soon be a reality. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent said the Office of Management and Budget is in the final stages of standing up the council, as part of upcoming guidance on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. OMB held a training and orientation session for all agency CDOs back in September. (Federal News Network)
The Postal Service is turning to artificial intelligence to help sort packages faster. The agency will partner with tech company Nvidia to roll out deep-learning AI solutions to more than 200 processing facilities by 2020. Ian Buck, NVIDIA’s vice president of accelerated computing said those tools will help USPS process packages 10 times faster, and with higher accuracy. (Nvidia)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is urging colleagues to support his bill to eliminate the Postal Service’s pre-funding of retiree health benefits. USPS has defaulted on billions in mandated payments over the past decade, but the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman said the agency has $50 billion in the fund. That’s enough to pay benefits for the next 10-to-15 years. The bill, if passed, would return the Postal Service to a pay-as-you-go system. The bill has co-sponsors from more than half of the House.