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Washington, D.C., Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) wants an update from the National Park Service on its plan to reimburse the District of Columbia more than $78,000 for removing trash from specified NPS locations during the 35-day government shutdown of 2018-2019. Norton said during the shutdown, the District removed trash from national park sites three times each day using 460 regular work hours, more than 1,100 overtime hours, and District equipment. D.C. has been seeking reimbursement from NPS since March 2019. (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton)
Draft regulations to implement the new paid parental leave law may be forthcoming. The regulations will allow federal employees to submit their comments and concerns. The Office of Personnel Management said it can’t answer any questions about the new benefit until it completes the regulatory review process. Draft regulations are expected in late spring. In the meantime, the National Treasury Employees Union said the six weeks of paid parental leave it bargained for on behalf of its Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation employees are in effect. Those programs will stay in place until the governmentwide leave program kicks in come October. (Federal News Network)
A new initiative is prompting agencies to improve injury and illness rates, more quickly file workers’ compensation claims and increase return-to-work rates. The Office of Management and Budget’s program is called Protecting Employees Enabling Reemployment Initiative. Federal employees filed nearly 107,000 workplace injury claims and got $3 billion in workers compensation payments in 2018. (White House)
The Department of Homeland Security released details of a major procurement for 2020. DHS detailed its initial schedule for its data center and cloud optimization support services contract. In a notice on beta.sam.gov, DHS said in early February it will issue the draft scope of the contract and hold an industry day in March. This is all leading up to the release of the draft solicitation in May. DHS said the acquisition is focused in three areas: To continue the services from data center one in Stennis, Mississippi; to purchase professional services to migrate existing infrastructure and applications to a commercial cloud; and to buy fully managed cloud services.
Four expert advisers from the U.S. Agency for International Development are heading to Australia to support the country’s wildfire response. They’re from the agency’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and will assess humanitarian needs, and help identify and coordinate response priorities. USAID is also providing $100 thousand in humanitarian aid. (U.S. Agency for International Development)
The Federal Labor Relations Authority turns down a request from two departments that could have had a big impact on labor relations. The Education and Agriculture departments sought a general guidance statement from the FLRA on the difference between conditions of employment and working conditions, ahead of their union bargaining on conditions of employment. But the FLRA said no, it would be better to resolve the difference over a case-in-controversy. The board, in a 2-to-1 vote said, a guidance statement would not prevent more cases with the same question. (Federal Labor Relations Authority)
The Space Force sounds futuristic and is planning for the future. Major General John Shaw, leader of Space Force’s Space Operations Command says the service is setting up a doctrine center to think about some of the big picture questions. It’s also considering how it will train and fight in a domain where humans rarely reach. The Space Force is also considering how it will train and fight in a domain where humans rarely reach. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department Inspector General is taking a look into how other countries affect the experimental side of the Pentagon. The IG wants to figure out if the DoD research and engineering undersecretary’s office is monitoring and mitigating foreign influence in research and development programs. That includes agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Innovation Unit and selected Federally Funded Research and Development Centers. Fears of foreign influence have increased after DoD realized China could use its dominance of the supply chain to affect weapons programs. (Department of Defense)
DoDgi was planning on making major changes to G.I. Bill benefits this week. That’s not happening though, because of a recent change in law. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill lets servicemembers transfer their education benefits to their kids or spouses if they don’t use them themselves. The Pentagon announced a year and a half ago that it would remove that option for troops who’ve served for 16 years or more. The change was supposed to take effect yesterday, but a provision in the Defense authorization bill Congress passed last month bans DoD from following through with it. DoD and the military services are updating their policies to reflect the fact that the transferability benefit is staying intact. (Federal News Network)
The Army Reserve is investigating allegations that one of its major commands has been violating DoD policy by conducting internal investigations into sexual assault cases. Those cases are supposed to be referred to criminal investigators. A victim advocate for the 416th Theater Engineer Command says the organization also operated for more than a year without a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. (Federal News Network)
A final rule from the Small Business Administration that would make more vendors eligible for federal small-business contracts has gone into effect. The final rule will implement the 2018 Small Business Runway Extension Act, which required SBA to determine a company’s small-business status based on their last five years of revenue instead of the previous standard of three years. The final rule goes into effect the same week that the Senate confirmed U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza to serve as the next permanent SBA administrator.
A bill to convene a public-private working group on the Internet of Things has passed the Senate. The Developing and Growing the Internet of Things, or DIGIT Act, would bring together federal agencies, the private sector, and academia to advise Congress on the rollout of IOT technology. The bill would also require the Federal Communications Commission to complete a report that evaluates the spectrum needs required to support IOT devices. (Sen. Deb Fischer)
Three agencies met one of President Donald Trump’s big goals around regulatory reform. The Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, launched a unified website for biotechnology regulations. The three agencies are charged with overseeing agricultural biotechnology products and this site lets citizens submit questions to all three agencies instead of having to figure out which is the right agency for their question. The unified website also meets one of the requirements of the president’s June executive order. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)