To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
The American Federation of Government Employees is bashing a White House proposal to cut $27 million and nearly 300 employees from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. AFGE said EEOC employees are handling 200,000 inquiries and over 72,000 charges. The union said the president’s proposed budget won’t keep up with demand of harassment complaints during the #MeToo era. (American Federation of Government Employees)
A bill to ensure all federal employees are covered under the new paid parental leave law now has a House companion. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.V.) introduced the Federal Employee Parental Leave Technical Correction Act. The bill specifically covers the Federal Aviation Administration, non-screener personnel at the Transportation Security Administration, White House employees, and workers at the District of Columbia courts and Public Defender Services. It also ensures coverage for the Veterans Health Administration.
Another bipartisan pair from the House Oversight and Reform Committee have introduced a bill to boost the work of the General Services Administration’s Centers of Excellence initiative. The Modernization Centers of Excellence Program Act from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), would help agencies adopt cloud services, modernize their contract centers, and overhaul their data management efforts. The bill would also help agencies share best practices standing up centers of excellence.
A sixth agency signed up for help from GSA’s Centers of Excellence office. The Labor Department is following in the Defense Department’s footsteps and seeking help from GSA’s artificial intelligence experts. Labor is asking GSA’s AI center of excellence office to help it modernize acquisition capabilities using robotics process automation. GSA launched the AI CoE in 2019 to work with the DoD’s Joint AI Center. Labor joined the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Housing and Urban Development; OPM and the Consumer Product Safety Commission in working with the CoEs. (General Services Administration)
A bill to strengthen the role of the agency chief financial officers has been introduced in the Senate. Senate Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) bill would update the 30-year-old CFO Act to standardize the authorities of agency CFOs governmentwide. It would also give acting chief financial officers more authority when their agency lacks a permanent officeholder. The bill would also require CFOs to develop performance metrics to include in government-wide and agency-level financial management plans and status reports.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee said it wants more details about VA’s decision to delay the initial rollout of the new electronic health record. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie’s decision to delay the EHR rollout in Spokane, Washington, has bipartisan support. But lawmakers see the delay as reason to ramp up their oversight of the project. A VA committee aide told Federal News Network, the rollout could be delayed until April or May. The aide said developers were still building out the system as training was scheduled to begin for clinicians in Spokane. VA didn’t want staff training on an unfinished system. (Federal News Network)
More money is being taken from the Defense budget to build more sections of the president’s border wall. The Pentagon said Thursday it’s using its reprogramming authorities to move $3.8 billion in funding from various weapons programs toward border construction. The move prompted bipartisan condemnation from the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, who said the reprogramming ignores Congress’s power of the purse. (Federal News Network)
In another big legal setback for the Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud contract, a federal judge has ruled that DoD cannot move ahead with work it had planned to start today to begin building the JEDI Cloud infrastructure. The Court of Federal Claims issued a preliminary injunction in response to a request from Amazon Web Services. AWS is suing the Pentagon, hoping to eventually overturn the JEDI award to Microsoft. The work stoppage will stay in place until the lawsuit is decided one way or another, but the injunction signals the judge believes the evidence so far leans in Amazon’s favor. (Federal News Network)
If it was up to these people, a nominee for second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency would already be confirmed. President Donald Trump has nominated an existing environmental official as EPA’s deputy administrator. Doug Benevento joined the agency in 2017 as region 8 administrator, arriving from Colorado. There he was executive director of its Department of Public Health and Environment. He’s currently associate deputy EPA administrator. The agency accompanied its announcement with short testimonies from 17 state and federal officials. But only two are senators who get to vote on Benevento’s nomination.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is laying out 24 case studies for how companies from across different sectors protect their technology supply chains. Over the last year, NIST interviewed companies ranging from consumer electronics to consumer goods to the Mayo Clinic. The goal is to highlight trends, correlations, and other findings so agencies and companies can improve their cyber supply chain risk management programs. This is the second time NIST conducted interviews about supply chain, building upon its efforts in 2015. Comments on the case studies are due March 4. (National Institute of Standard and Technologies)