Bicameral bill would even out locality and General Schedule pay

In today's Federal Newscast, two lawmakers want to even the playing field for hourly wage workers and General Schedule employees who work in the same location.

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  • Two lawmakers want to even the playing field for hourly wage workers and General Schedule employees who work in the same location. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced the Locality Pay Equity Act. The bill would equalize local pay areas and ensure there’s only one local wage area within a specific location. Lawmakers say they often see discrepancies in locality pay rates for hourly and GS employees who work in the same geographic areas. (Senate Aging Committee)
  • Congress is giving agencies two years to dramatically cut down reliance on periodic reinvestigations. The 2020 defense authorization bill instructs agencies to use periodic reinvestigations on less than 10% of the cleared population by 2021. The Trump administration is already planning to ramp up enrollment in continuous vetting programs within the next year. The defense policy bill also instructs agencies to build an online portal to allow human resources and clearance applicants to track their progress through the background investigation process. (Federal News Network)
  • The 2020 Defense authorization bill covers a lot of ground, including climate change. The bill establishes a single, dedicated line in the Defense budget for activities related to adaption to extreme weather. It makes the Navy’s installation adaption and resilience handbook apply across the Defense Department, while requiring resilience to weather-induced damage as part of installation master plans. The Center for Climate and Security points out, there is also money. The NDAA authorizes $49 million so the Navy can heighten floodwalls at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. (The Center for Climate and Security)
  • The Defense Department is tapping 14 of its components to act as pathfinders for its JEDI cloud. Those components include U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The entities will start using JEDI for more than base compute, raw storage. Instead, they will test the principles of JEDI and use it on the tactical edge. DoD hopes to stand up the unclassified capabilities of the JEDI cloud by mid-February. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon has released its annual list of housing allowances military members will get in the coming year. The Basic Allowance for Housing varies widely across DoD’s more than 300 housing markets. But the Pentagon says on average, service members and their families will see increases of 2.8% starting on Jan. 1. The payments are tied to local rent and utility costs, and altogether, DoD expects to spend $22 billion on housing allowances next year. Under legislation Congress passed in 2016, military members are responsible for paying 5% their housing costs themselves. (Department of Defense)
  • An investigation by the House Oversight and Homeland Security Committees found the Coast Guard did not take corrective action to address retaliation against Coast Guard members who report bullying or harassment. The committees also found Coast Guard leaders didn’t hold officials accountable for deficient and incomplete investigations. The authors of the report state the Coast Guard needs to make significant improvements to its policies and procedures regarding harassment and bullying. (House Oversight and Reform Committee)
  • The Commerce Department’s inspector general says the Census Bureau should review all the job applications screened by employees that didn’t prevent a registered sex offender from getting hired. The IG launched the report after a census office in Charlotte, North Carolina hired the offender last year as a regional recruiting manager. The IG determined neither the front-line specialist nor the supervisor followed the bureau’s procedures to handle background investigations. (Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General)
  • NASA has kicked off the recompete process for its $1.2 billion contract for integrated communications services. It released a sources sought notice asking for industry input on its NICS 2.0 contract. NASA says it wants to deploy zero trust technologies and advanced network automation tools to improve security and reduce costs. The notice outlines five major elements of the potential statement of work including special purpose communications equipment with the Russians. Responses are due January 17. (Beta.Sam.Gov)
  • The National Infrastructure Advisory Council has urged President Trump to create two new organizations to unify the government’s response to cyber emergencies. The Federal Cybersecurity Commission would manage catastrophic risks to critical infrastructure, while the Critical Infrastructure Command Center would enable better coordination between the public and private sector on sharing threat information. The council, which advises the president, has also urged select Cabinet secretaries to meet and discuss how these new operations would mesh with existing cyber programs. (Federal News Network)
  • The Government Accountability Office has found an uptick in the number of authorizations through the cloud security process known as Fed-RAMP. Between June 2017 to July 2019, 24 agencies reported the number of Fed-RAMP approved services grew from 390 to more than 900, a 137% increase. But 15 agencies told GAO they don’t always use the program for vetting cloud services. (Government Accountability Office)
  • GSA is in the red with another service it’s providing other agencies. The costs to oversee and manage the Technology Modernization Fund is putting the General Services Administration in the arrears. The Government Accountability Office’s review of the TMF program management office shows that GSA is not collecting enough fees from the agencies receiving loans to cover their costs. Auditors say GSA is spending $1.2 million but collected only $33 thousand or 3% of its operating costs. Based on the current approach the program management office will not recover its costs until 2029. GSA had a similar problem with its 18F organization in 2016. OMB and GSA disagreed with several of GAO’s finding. (Government Accountability Office)

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