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DMV area lawmakers are urging their colleagues to stay focused on getting a paid family leave program for all federal employees. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says leadership on the congressional armed services committees is considering a leave program only for the Defense Department. Hoyer and a group of Maryland and Virginia Democrats say paid leave only for DoD employees would create two classes in the workforce. The House included 12 weeks of paid leave for federal employees in its version of the annual defense authorization bill. The Senate’s version didn’t. Defense congressional leaders are conferencing over the leave program now. (Rep. Steny Hoyer)
A new bill would change the federal fiscal year calendar to run from January 1 to December 31. Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) recently introduced the It’s About Time Act. The bill would take effect on January 1. The current federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.
With a possible government shutdown two weeks away, parties are still arguing over the last two shutdowns. A federal judge heard oral arguments on the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit over last year’s shutdown. The National Treasury Employees Union claims the IRS violated the anti-deficiency act in forcing employees to work. But the judge said a decision is unlikely until January. From the 2013 shutdown, federal and union lawyers agree on how many employees are due liquidated damages. But they still haven’t agreed on how to calculate who gets what. (Federal News Network)
A bill in the Senate would require the Postal Service to develop a comprehensive plan to fight the shipping of illegal drugs. The bill from Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) would require USPS to update its plan every two years, and provide briefings to Congress and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Between 2013 and 2018, more than 98,000 people in the US have died from synthetic opioid overdoses. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
A postal worker in Virginia was shot yesterday morning by an agent for the Postal Service’s Inspector General’s office. The worker was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injures. No details were released as to what happened before the shooting. The IG’s office is investigating along with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. (Associated Press)
The Federal Labor Relations Authority is taking another step to eliminate any doubts about the structure and responsibilities of the Federal Service Impasses Panel. Members of the panel say they’ve ratified all finalized decisions and orders that were made over the past two years. FSIP Chairman Mark Carter say the panel reaffirmed all decisions in recent years to remove any doubt about its constitutionality or structure. President Trump last month gave the FLRA authority to remove any member of the impasses panel. (Federal Labor Relations Authority)
A federal court has decided the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A D.C. district court judge ruled in favor of the Electronic Privacy Information Center which filed a lawsuit last year when the Defense Department denied its FOIA requests. The ruling comes as the commission is preparing to release its final report to Congress next year. The panel is chaired by former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and former Google and Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt. Congress stood up the commission in the 2019 defense spending bill. (Electronic Privacy Information Center)
The Justice Department is joining a whistleblower lawsuit that claims a defense contractor overcharged the government for mine-resistant vehicles. Prosecutors say Navistar Defense submitted fraudulent invoices to justify the prices it was charging the Marine Corps for a new, upgraded suspension system for the more than 4,000 MRAPs it delivered. Those invoices purported to show commercial customers had paid similar prices, but the Justice Department says those commercial sales never actually happened. The suit was filed under the False Claims Act, which lets the government recover up to three times the monetary damages it suffered. (Department of Justice)
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday released a new guidance for the future of the fleet. The new guidance states that the Navy will be equipped with the right capabilities and numbers to meet the challenges of a complex and competitive maritime environment. The order is built on the foundation of former Navy CNO Adm. John Richardson’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0. The guidance also says the Navy will work to recruit and retain the most talented men and women to give the service an asymmetrical advantage in warfare. (Navy)
The Army’s acquisition office nearly doubled the requirement to save money and move to modernization accounts. The Army’s acquisition office did more than just meet the Defense Secretary’s goal of moving 5% of its operations and maintenance accounts to modernization, lethality or readiness. The office nearly doubled its savings using category management. Becky Weirick, the executive director of the Services Acquisition Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement, says the service saved one point two billion dollars in fiscal 2019 that went toward modernization. She says one way the Army did that was by severely limiting the buying of IT in the fiscal fourth quarter, which data shows cost 30% more than at other times during the year.
A new application from the Air Force allows reserve and guard airmen to monitor the status of their retirement applications. The virtual status bar provides applicants with a real-time snapshot of the standing of their application. To view the status bar, airmen must go to the Virtual Personnel Center and select the retirement status link in the retirements section. The Air Force processes more than 10,000 retirement orders a year. (Air Force)
Veterans Affairs is launching a new inter-agency initiative to make better contact with military members who leave service. The program is called VA Solid Start and the department says it will call all new veterans at least three times during their first year of transition from the military, to develop better relationships with new veterans. The goal is to develop better relationships with new veterans and tell them about VA mental health and other benefits. The initiative is part of a military mental health executive order President Trump signed last year. (Department of Veterans Affairs)