Senators worry new policies may hinder non-citizen servicemembers naturalization process

In today's Federal Newscast, three senators want the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the process non-citizen service members go through to become n...

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  • Three senators want the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the process non-citizen service members go through to become naturalized. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ohio), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) say they fear recent policies from the Defense Department and the and Department of Homeland Security, may affect the naturalization process for service members not born in the U.S. The senators noted a decline of non-citizens in the military attaining naturalization from 2010 to 2018. (Sen. Tammy Duckworth)
  • More telework changes are coming to the Social Security Administration. SSA says it has notified employees and unions about a series of changes it plans to make to existing telework policies. The American Federation of Government Employees says SSA will reinstate telework for some, but not all, operations employees. The changes vary depending on an employee’s component and whether they’re in a bargaining unit. Employees at SSA field office and teleservice centers won’t have access to telework. Changes go into effect March 2. (Federal News Network)
  • The American Federation of Government Employees wants to get rid of an Office of Special Counsel guidance designed to prevent Hatch Act violations. The guidance advises federal employees against displaying slogans or advocating for or against the impeachment of President Trump at work. AFGE and the progressive leaning American Oversight are asking a federal district court to immediately suspend OSC’s guidance. AFGE says the OSC guidance violates employees’ free speech First Amendment rights. The union sued OSC back in August over this guidance. AFGE says the lawsuit is more urgent now with impeachment in the news. (Federal News Network)
  • Nearly 5,000 non-career letter carriers will soon become career employees, following a settlement between the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers. City carrier assistants with at least 30 months on the job as of February 15 will convert to career status in late March. City carrier assistants have less generous benefits than career employees, and fewer protections from layoffs. NALC had filed a national-level grievance claiming the Postal Service had exceeded a contractual cap on city carrier assistants. (National Association of Letter Carriers)
  • Despite bipartisan opposition, the National Archives and Records Administration will shutter its Federal Records and Archives Center in Seattle, Washington. The Public Buildings Reform Board included the facility on its list of underutilized, but high-value properties. NARA expects the General Services Administration will sell it within 18 months. NARA has also requested staying in the building for an additional three years after the sale. Members of Congress urged the Office of Management and Budget to block the closure, saying the board gave no notice to state archivists, historical societies, or tribal leaders. (National Archives and Records Administration)
  • Inspectors general don’t just issue audit recommendations, they follow up to see how many fixes agencies have made. Case in point: The National Institutes of Health. The Health and Human Services office of inspector general went back to its 487 recommendations for the NIH made in 2015 and 2016. It found the agency submitted clearance documents for just over half of them. Of the issues NIH did resolve, many took longer than the requisite six months. Sometimes, though, NIH took corrective action but was late with the paperwork. (Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General)
  • Participants rolled a record amount of money into the Thrift Savings Plan in 2019. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says it handled nearly 35,000 roll-in transactions last year. Participants have rolled in over $1.3 billion. The TSP says it’s a sign that a growing number of participants see value in the plan. The FRTIB says it’s working on new features and services that will help participants roll in money to the TSP more easily.
  • Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein says leaders are going through a delicate balancing act as they set up the Space Force. Goldfien says the Space Force needs to have its own unique culture, while also being nested within the Air Force. It will slowly take on more responsibilities from the Air Force as time goes on. The Space Force has a unique role because its work is inherently joint and therefore it will constantly work with the other military services. Goldfein says the Space Force will slowly take on more responsibilities from the Air Force as time goes on. The Air Force secretary must submit a report to Congress by the end of the week on how the Space Force will grow. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon is moving quickly to recruit a new Chief Data Officer. This year’s defense authorization bill moved the CDO’s reporting responsibilities from the department’s chief management officer and put the position inside the CIO’s office. In a memo Federal News Network obtained, DoD CIO Dana Deasy says he’s already recruiting candidates and plans to have a new CDO operation up and running in 90 days. The department did not answer questions about what the changes mean for Michael Conlin, the current CDO. (Federal News Network)
  • House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) has announced a comprehensive strategy to address veteran suicides. He says the committee, the Veterans Affairs Department and veterans service organizations will work together on the strategy. It will be based off a suicide prevention strategy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Takano says finding ways to financially support suicide prevention methods and teaching coping and problem-solving skills are among the seven goals. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • The Office of Management and Budget has thrown down the gauntlet to public and private sector experts to bring ideas to help the government modernize its acquisition supply chain. OMB is asking for input to help answer an assortment of questions around benchmarking, data and pricing, market research, technology, continuous improvement and training of acquisition and other workers. OMB’s Margaret Weichert says the goal of the challenge is to catalyze new thinking about federal procurement that focuses on industry best practices and improved strategies for buying. Ideas are due February 17. (Federal News Network)
  • Dozens of organizations have urged the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to suspend federal agencies’ use of facial recognition technology pending further review. The groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, cited a recent study which found commercial facial recognition software had a higher false positive rate for Asians and African-Americans. The board last summer added facial recognition in aviation security as one of its “active oversight projects.”

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