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The National Treasury Employees Union is worried the Office of Personnel Management may be missing the point in implementing the new paid parental leave law. OPM proposed limiting paid leave for federal employees who foster new children. OPM also wants to limit paid leave to 12 weeks per child, even if both parents are federal employees. NTEU says the proposals show OPM is side-stepping the intent of the new law. The union says OPM should reconsider these proposals. Paid parental leave benefits go into effect October 1. (National Treasury Employees Union)
The top leader of the largest federal employee union is gone. J.David Cox was the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. He resigned Friday, amid a months-long sexual harassment investigation. Everett Kelley has been serving as the acting AFGE national president, and will now permanently lead the union. AFGE says Cox’s resignation has no impact on an ongoing investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct at the union. (Federal News Network)
Five Senators press Food and Drug Administration officials for answers about how the agency is keeping its employees safe from Coronavirus. In a letter to FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, they about plans to resume inspections in China and efforts to ensure employees do not contract the disease. The Senators want FDA make sure they talk to food and drug inspectors and their unions as they develop plans to resume inspections. The FDA suspended inspections in China, but the Senators say the virus poses a potential risk to FDA workers when they resume. Lawmakers want answers by March 13.
The FDA turns to emergency rule-making to expand national capacity to test for corona virus. The rule accelerates the development of diagnostic tests by independent laboratories, and it goes into effect without public comment. Citing an exception in the basic food and drug law, FDA will let labs do testing before receiving emergency use authorization. FDA issued detailed guidance on Saturday. Commissioner Steve Hahn says FDA will get around to its regular reviews of test procedures, as it tries to strike a balance during the outbreak. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
Customs and Border Protection officers risk exposure to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. But a bill aimed at minimizing that risk is making its way through Congress. The Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act would require CBP to issue safety equipment and protocols for employees who handle these drugs. Senators Gary Peters and Shelley Moore Capito introduced the bill after a House version passed in December. The bill follows a recent Department of Homeland Security inspector general report that raised issues with the way CBP prepares its officers with handling synthetic opioids. (Sen. Shelley Moore Capito)
President Trump nominates Kenneth Braithwaite as the next Navy secretary. Braithwaite is currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Norway. He spent 31 years in the Navy and reserves, and worked for Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in the late 1990s. Braithwaite will take over for acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who has been in the position since November last year. Modly took over after former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was asked to leave the position following a disagreement with the president. (White House)
A federal court finds the Trump Administration violated the law when it appointed a new leader of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Judge Randolph Moss ruled Ken Cucinnelli’s appointment ran afoul of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the law that sets out who’s in charge when a Senate confirmed official leaves a position. In this case, the court says the acting director job should have gone to the agency’s deputy director. But the Trump Administration created a new “principal deputy” position at USCIS so that Cuccinelli could lead the agency instead. The court ruled that since Cucinelli wasn’t properly appointed, at least some of the policy decisions he made are legally invalid.
The Trump administration is putting out new guidance for agencies to work together and meet the goals of the Federal Data Strategy. The Data Innovation Event Playbook provides templates for how agencies should discuss and communicate efforts to make data analytics a central part of their mission. The playbook also suggests events that agencies should host, such as small-team offsite meetings, and agency-wide demonstrations of data visualization projects.
Food for thought as agencies move faster to bring robots into the federal workplace. No money for IT modernization? Ever thought about turning to a robot? The CIO Council’s new white paper on robotics process automation says one big benefit of RPA is bringing significant improvements to legacy system processes at a relatively low cost. The council outlined this and other key considerations as to why agencies should let software take over mundane and repetitive tasks in the new white paper. The Innovation Committee says the white paper is a resource for agencies as they buy, manage and implement RPA. The document compliments the recent RPA playbook from the community of practice.
Nominations are open for the Presidential Rank Awards program. OPM is looking for exceptional career senior executives who have made significant contributions to the agencies over the past year. Agencies can nominate Senior Executive Service members for two types of awards, distinguished and meritorious. The president makes the final decision in approving award recipients. PRA nominations are open through April 10. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)