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Census workers have been robbed, carjacked, and even kidnapped while going door-to-door in previous decennial counts. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham and the Commerce Department’s inspector general have asked local law enforcement across the country to remain vigilant against threats to 2020 census enumerators in the months ahead. Census workers visited 47 million homes during the 2010 count, and reported being the victim of more than 700 acts of violence across the United States.
A six-year-old class action lawsuit over the 2013 government shutdown entered a new phase. Government attorneys filed a motion to dismiss over 2000 employees deemed ineligible for damages from the lawsuit. U.S. attorneys say these plaintiffs are ineligible based on the terms of the case. Or they haven’t been able to properly identify them. Attorneys for both sides are mostly in agreement over the terms they’ll use to compensate the remaining 21,000 employees still eligible for damages. (Federal News Network)
Government contractors have a new tool to ensure they’re meeting all their requirements under equal employment laws. The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs launched an on-demand learning management system called the Contractor Compliance Institute. Through the portal, vendors can evaluate their current hiring and recruitment efforts as well as get questions answered about how best to comply with equal employment laws. (Department of Labor)
An interagency effort to make developing software easier is about to kick off. A secure software development framework is among the things on the to-do list for federal agency cyber standards efforts. The Air Force, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and a host of other agencies will hold the first meeting in early March to develop a draft guidance or special publication for secure software development similar to the cybersecurity framework. The dev/sec/ops document may include functions, categories, subcategories and industry best practices for these continuous integration environments. Also a part of this effort is how to develop standards or processes for a continuous authority to operate or ATO.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects to triple its supercomputer capacity for weather and climate forecasts by 2022. NOAA expects to do that by standing up two new supercomputers in Manassas, Virginia and Phoenix, Arizona, to replace legacy devices in Reston, Virginia and Orlando, Florida. Once this upgrade is complete, NOAA projects it will have a 40 petaflop supercomputing capacity. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Senior Democratic members of Congress are urging the Social Security Administration to withdraw a proposed rule for appealing denial of benefits. The change would let administrative appeals judges hold hearings and issue decisions, ahead of SSA’s administrative law judges. In a 52-page letter to Commissioner Andrew Saul, the lawmakers say this would overturn practice dating to the 1940s, make it harder for Americans to receive benefits, and violate the Administrative Procedures Act. SSA says it would increase its capacity to handle appeals. (House Ways and Means Committee)
One federal employee union is cautiously optimistic about recent attempts to fix the new paid parental leave law. The National Federation of Federal Employees applauded a bill from a bipartisan pair of House members. The bill would ensure the entire federal workforce has access to paid parental leave. But NFFE says it’s concerned by comments from the Office of Personnel Management that indicate how the agency plans to implement the new law. OPM suggested it would limit paid parental leave benefits to 12 weeks if both parents are federal employees. It also recommended time limits on leave for new foster children.
The American Federation of Government Employees is appealing to Congress to help block recent efforts to exclude Defense employees from collective bargaining. The president gave Defense Secretary Mark Esper the power to exclude DoD civilians from a 40-year-old collective bargaining law. It’s unclear if, or when, DOD might strip bargaining rights from its employees. But AFGE asked congressional oversight and armed forces committees to add a provision in next year’s annual defense policy catch-all to block the possibility. (American Federation of Government Employees)
Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz is warning that it’s on an unsustainable path for its growing requirements. Schultz says the service’s readiness accounts need to be funded in parity with the rest of the military services in order to maintain national security. Schultz says the Coast Guard’s readiness is currently in jeopardy. DoD’s readiness funding has grown three times the budgeting for the Coast Guard. Schultz says ensuring the Coast Guard is prepared is his top priority. (U.S. Coast Guard)
The future of the Defense Department’s mentor-protégé program is in doubt because of budget cuts. The program is designed to encourage large contractors to partner with small businesses and help make them part of the government’s supply chain, and DoD’s mentor-protégé program is the oldest in the federal government. But the department’s 2021 budget proposal would zero out its funding as part of the Defense-wide review. Budget documents say officials want to keep it alive in some form by letting big contractors charge their expenses on mentor-protégé programs as an allowable cost, but the details of how that system would work have not been fleshed out. (Federal News Network)
A new app funded by the Air Force may help airmen find short-term childcare. The app, Kinderspot, would help parents sublease their child’s spot in a daycare center to families with short-term needs. The idea came from a major in the Air Force, and won the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo. The app will share $1 million in seed money with other innovations like autonomous lawn mowers for airfields. (Air Force)