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Customer service is a top priority for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this year. EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon announced five strategic goals for 2020. She wants EEOC to be a model workplace for other organizations. Dhillon also wants to partner with other agencies to eliminate confusion among filers and stakeholders. Updating EEOC guidance and rescinding out-of-date technical assistance documents are also priorities for the agency. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
6,000 fewer federal employees retired in 2019 compared to the previous year. That’s according to a Federal News Network analysis of monthly retirement data from the Office of Personnel Management. Some former feds did mention their agency’s political climate as a reason for leaving. Financial, personal and family reasons are the main motivators to retire. But their agency’s political climate, leadership, culture and budget also influence their decision to stay or go. (Federal News Network)
Nearly all Thrift Savings Plan funds were down in January compared to December, starting the new year from an overall low point. TSP says the government securities investment G-fund rose by just .1% and the fixed income investment F-fund rose by 1.99% last month. All other stock and bond funds showed negative performance compared to December. This is a stark contrast from one year ago when the TSP experienced a period of overall positive performance in month-to-month returns. (Federal News Network)
Truman, the bot, is moving out of the pilot stage and into full production. The General Services Administration is expanding the use of robotics process automation across all of the Federal Acquisition Service. The bot, named after President Harry Truman, who founded GSA, has been in pilot mode since 2018. Truman automates many of the administrative tasks required to properly evaluate a new schedule offer such as identifying and validating contractor identification numbers and printing and emailing documents. GSA says the bot helps save acquisition workers more than hour out of their day that would normally be required to do these tasks. (General Services Administration)
President Donald Trump announced plans to nominate Craig Leen to be the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general. Leen is the director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. OPM has been without a permanent IG for four years. Deputy IG Norbert Vint has been serving as OPM’s acting inspector general since former IG Patrick McFarland retired back in 2016. (White House)
The Justice Department has named a new top official for Freedom of Information Act policy. Attorney General William Barr has appointed Bobby Talebian as the permanent head of DoJ’s Office of Information Policy. Talebian had served as its acting head since last October, when former OIP Director Melanie Ann Pustay stepped down. In this role, Talebian sets governmentwide FOIA policy guidance, as well as training and legal counsel. (Department of Justice)
The number-two official at the Department of Veterans Affairs is suddenly out of a job. In a two-sentence statement Monday afternoon, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he had “dismissed” Deputy Secretary James Byrne. The department did not offer a reason for the abrupt firing, other than to say Wilkie had lost confidence in his ability to perform his duties. Byrne had only been on the job since last September, when he won overwhelming approval in his Senate confirmation. He had previously served as VA’s general counsel, and as an attorney at Lockheed Martin. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
Veterans Affairs is facing congressional pressure to resolve VA Mission Act implementation issues. A group of house reps led by Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), who’s chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says Although the MISSION Act created networks that allow veterans to access community care, the members are still getting calls from veterans and providers that have been left waiting for services and reimbursements. They want to know what VA is doing to fix these discrepancies. (Rep. Chris Pappas)
137 airmen were lost to suicide last year. That’s a 33% increase compared to 2018. The Air Force says it continues to pursue suicide prevention initiatives for the total force. On August 1 last year, Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein ordered all wings to stand down to focus on resiliency and suicide prevention. (Federal News Network)
Reported sexual assault in military academies increased 30% last year. A Pentagon report finds 122 midshipmen and cadets were assaulted in 2019. That’s compared to 92 in 2018. DoD released a prevention plan of action last April, which was used to develop a framework to conduct a baseline assessment of ways to prevent academy assaults. The report also found that students are experiencing high levels of sexual harassment.
An inspector general review has found the Census Bureau may have fielded unqualified hires during a decennial count dress rehearsal in 2018. The Commerce Department’s IG said the bureau had no way of knowing if some enumerators hired for the test in Rhode Island passed or failed their final assessment before going out in the field. The bureau updated its learning management system after the 2018 test, to make sure address canvassers couldn’t take their final assessment more than once, but never tested the system to make sure it would work during peak operations.
OPM has set up a working group of key agencies to monitor the ongoing spread of the coronavirus and its impact on federal employees. OPM says it’s working with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to determine what human resources guidance they need to deal with coronavirus concerns. Meantime, OPM recommended agencies consider telework and good health habits to prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)