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One Democratic presidential candidate is promising big changes to federal hiring and ethics policies. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says she wants to expand the use of direct hire authorities to fill critical vacancies throughout the federal workforce. She wants to find ways to reinstate qualified former federal employees back to the workforce. Warren is also recommending a government mentorship program specifically for employees of color. As well as expanding the cooling off period to six years for lobbyists before they can take a government job. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren)
The General Services Administration has updated its set of templates agencies must adhere to when launching new federal websites. The U.S. Web Design System maturity model looks to give new sites a familiar look and feel that allows users to navigate seamlessly on their mobile devices. GSA’s Technology Transformation Services updated its web design standards as part of the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act. Federal websites received more than 38 billion page views in 2019. (Federal News Network)
Chad Sheridan, the chief of service delivery operations at the Agriculture Department, is heading to the private sector. Sheridan says it was time to try something else after 26 years in government, including the last 10 with USDA. He will be the chief innovation officer for an IT services and consulting company called Net Impact Strategies. Sheridan says he’s worked on three major programs during his career ranging from the next generation air craft carrier to the development of the farmers dot gov portal. His last day at USDA is January 31.
Should agency heads be allowed to review the legality of old bargaining agreements during renegotiation? The Federal Labor Relations Authority says the Agriculture Department has asked for clarity and policy on this topic. FLRA is collecting feedback from agencies, unions and the public about what its policy should be. USDA argues agency heads should have the right to review expiring collective bargaining agreements that stay in full force because they’re effectively renewed every day. (Federal News Network)
How much does it cost the Pentagon to replace doctors and dentists? The Government Accountability Office says the Defense Department needs to collect more information to make better investment decisions. The report also found the maximum amount DoD is paying 21 of 27 medical fields is less than the private sector median for four different pay grades. Compensation for DoD medical professions was also less than the private sector median at key retention points. (Government Accountability Office)
The Air Force’s new Civilian Acculturation Program hopes to get civilian employees on the job faster. The program standardizes and streamlines the on-boarding process across Air Force Materiel Command. A key aspect of the process centers on a four-day period for new employees that includes orientation, total force awareness training, common access card acquisition and unit in-processing requirements. (Air Force)
As automation pilots gain momentum, the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is set to double its current workforce before the end of fiscal 2021. The JAIC has about 70 civilian staff and about 30 to 40 contract staff. When DoD stood up the the JAIC in June 2018, it started with AI projects like predictive maintenance of military vehicles and cybersecurity. Since then, the agency has focused on projects like soldier health and intelligent business automation. (Federal News Network)
The Pentagon is settling a lawsuit with a veterans group that claimed it was illegally withholding records from the public. DoD has agreed to a series of steps that will make past decisions from the boards that handle requests to correct records available on a public website. The move follows a lawsuit by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which says its pro-bono lawyers rely on those precedents to help advise veterans fighting “bad paper discharges” and other problems with their service records. Federal law requires the department to publish those decisions, but the group claims the Pentagon has violated it in several ways. (National Veterans Legal Services Program)
A former VA employee has been sentenced to six months in prison for leaking the medical records of a veteran who was running for Congress. The victim, former Army major Richard Ojeda, says the leak was part of a concerted effort to undermine his candidacy in a West Virginia House race in 2018. The employee, Jeffrey Miller, plead guilty to illegally accessing records belonging to Ojeda and five other veterans. (Associated Press)
Agencies are collaborating to combat human trafficking. The Justice Department joined the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers in a round table discussion on the challenges posed by human traffickers. The meeting was held as part of the FLETC’s Human Trafficking Awareness Training last week. (Department of Justice)
The Defense Department made its first contract award under a slow-starting, civilian governmentwide acquisition contract. CenturyLink scored a second big order under the General Services Administration’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, or EIS, contract. This time the Defense Education Activity, DODEA, picked CenturyLink to provide a variety of network services to some 85 locations. CenturyLink says the deal could be worth $75 million if DODEA exercises all of its option periods. Last week CenturyLink got a large EIS order from the Interior Department.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) are applauding government efforts to at last contain the security clearance backlog. The current inventory sits at the self-proclaimed state of 200,000 to 230,000 investigations. National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director Bill Evanina testified yesterday at a closed door meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He briefed members on the government’s plans to overhaul the security clearance system under the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative. Burr and Warner say they support the planned reforms. But Warner says he’s looking for a specific plan that explains how the new security clearance system will be more effective.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection wants to better understand the cybersecurity risk to the U.S. financial services sector and its critical infrastructure. A Federal Register notice says the info will help it better identify cybersecurity and operational risks to and interdependencies within financial services sector critical infrastructure. The data also will help the cyber office work more collaboratively with industry and interagency partners to develop risk management and operational resilience initiatives. Comments are on the notice are due March 23.