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The Thrift Savings Plan will require tougher online security measures for its participants by the end of the year. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says all participants must validate their contact information and set up two-factor authentication for their online TSP accounts. The board recommends participants include at least one contact method that will stay with them throughout their careers. Participants can find instructions online at TSP.gov.
The American Federation of Government Employees and the Environmental Protection Agency are headed back to the bargaining table. AFGE says the two have agreed to renegotiate a series of bargaining proposals that were previously imposed on the union without its consent. Negotiations will start within 30 days. The settlement agreement comes after pressure from lawmakers and a ruling from the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The FLRA had said EPA bargained in bad faith when it tried to impose bargaining proposals earlier this year.
Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) warned the Interior Department about its planned Bureau of Land Management relocation, that the move could have a disparate impact on minority BLM employees who might be forced to relocate or lose their current jobs. Grijalva says Interior could open itself up to Civil Rights Act disputes. Black and African Americans make up three point five percent of the entire BLM workforce. The committee wants Interior to conduct an impact analysis of the relocation on its minority workforce. (House Natural Resources Committee)
Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, will not seek reelection. He announced his decision to step down in 2020. Graves also co-leads the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. During his tenure as ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee, he has been a supporter of the Technology Modernization Fund and pushed for cyber improvements at the IRS and other agencies. Graves says he looks forward to finalizing the recommendations to modernize Congress over his last year in office. (Rep. Tom Graves)
FirstNet reaches a million connections by more than 10,000 public safety agencies. That’s among the highlights from the FirstNet Authority board’s year-end meeting yesterday. The board oversees the activities of the national, first responder telecom network operated by the Commerce Department. The board emphasized expansion of what it calls the public safety ecosystem, which now includes one hundred devices and an equal number of applications in the FirstNet catalog. In September, the board approved investments of $145 million in 2020, partly to make the network 5G ready. (FirstNet)
The Robotics Process Automation Community of Practice will give agencies a how-to guide to implement this emerging technology. Gerrard Badorrek, the co-chairman of the RPA community of practice and GSA’s CFO, says an interagency team developed the playbook over the last six months. He says the guide breaks down RPA implementation and gives agencies advice based on their current state, ranging from a startup to a high performing organization. Badorrek says the goal is help agencies take advantage of the benefits that RPA brings more quickly.
There’s a new permanent director at the Government Publishing Office. The Senate has confirmed former congressional official Hugh Halpern to lead the 1,700 employee agency. Halpern previously worked as the director of floor operations for the Office of the Speaker of the House. He also held staff jobs on several House committees. GPO’s former acting deputy director, Herb Jackson Jr., stepped down earlier this year after critical reports from the agency’s inspector general. (Government Publishing Office)
Five military housing contractors told lawmakers yesterday they are taking steps to improve service member homes and create better ways to report substandard living conditions. This comes 10 months after reports of mice, mold and lead paint nationwide in privatized military homes. Companies like Corvias and Balfour Beatty created apps to help service members keep an eye on work orders and invested funds into repairing homes. However, lawmakers and the Government Accountability Office say there are still major issues with the residences and the work order process. (Federal News Network)
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) is calling on the garrison commander of Fort Meade, Maryland to take immediate action to address serious issues in privatized homes used by service members and to prevent retaliation against the troops and their families. Brown says there are significant problems with the housing, which are worsening and persistent. Last month, military families living on Ft. Meade sued Corvias Management, the company in charge of maintaining the houses, for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
TRICARE beneficiaries in the Eastern U.S. got an unwelcome surprise in their bank accounts yesterday. Military retirees and others who pay their premiums on a monthly basis saw charges that were 100 times what they’re supposed to pay: their credit and debit cards were hit for several thousand dollars. The Defense Health Agency says the problem was caused by a payment subcontractor for Humana, which manages TRICARE’s eastern region. Humana says it’s doing all it can to fix the issue, and that it’ll cover any overdraft fees the huge charges might have caused. (Federal News Network)
The Postal Regulatory Commission has laid out a path for the Postal Service to set higher rates for its market-dominant products, like first-class postage stamps. The PRC, in a new proposed rule, would base the Postal Service’s price cap on factors like declining mail density, and mandatory payments to fund health benefits for future postal retirees. This proposed rule reflects public feedback the PRC received on a previous proposal from 2017. The commission will accept comment on the proposed rule through February 3. (Postal Regulatory Commission)