Federal employees get more protection from age discrimination

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  • Federal employees now have a lower bar to prove age discrimination in personnel actions, compared with the private sector. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a VA employee who says she was denied training and a promotion partly because of her age. The court says private sector and federal employees have different burdens of proof under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. They say private sector employees must prove age was the deciding factor in a personnel decision. But federal employees can prove age was one of many factors. (Associated Press)
  • The Office of Personnel Management created a new tag on USAJobs for coronavirus response positions. Applicants can easily find and search for all COVID-19 jobs in one place. Agencies have posted 24 short-term and temporary detail positions for current federal employees to help with coronavirus response. These positions are posted on Open Opportunities, a subset of USA JOBS. Agencies are looking for contracting officers, doctors, nurses, and HR specialists.
  • The Treasury Department is looking for GS-12s through 15s to help implement the $2 trillion stimulus package. HR experts with backgrounds in domestic finance, tax policy and management will work with a Treasury senior executive to stand up a dedicated support team for the CARES Act. Also, the Small Business Administration says it has an urgent need for IT specialists, engineers and data scientists. These employees will set up and manage SBA cloud environments needed for COVID-19 response. (Open Opportunities)
  • All rocket scientists, space flight engineers and all other NASA employees are being called to bring their collective brainpower together to help solve problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The space agency launched an internal crowdsourcing platform called NASA AT Work. The topics range from the development of self-sanitizing personal protective equipment to the rapid design and prototyping of innovative ventilation devices. Ideas are due by April 15.
  • The IRS is on the hunt for low code or no code automated testing to improve its systems more quickly. The Pilot IRS initiative is setting its sights on improving the tax agency’s systems with little reprogramming or recoding. The IRS launched the program last year to develop emerging technology projects through incremental funding. The most recent example came yesterday with a request for information to expand and scale automated testing in its Enterprise System Testing domain. The IRS is looking for an approach or tool to help it analyze and automate multiple data sets as part of its testing of tax-related forms and applications. Responses to the RFI are due April 17.
  • Army Special Forces Group personnel who normally spend their time fixing parachutes are turning their skills toward making protective medical gear. Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State built prototypes for reusable respirator masks, face shields, and surgical masks that can be made with equipment on-hand. They think they’ll be able to make at least 1,000 masks per week. (Army)
  • Army recruits will have to wait a little longer to get their training. The Army says it will pause shipping recruits to basic training for the next two weeks in response to coronavirus. Gen. Paul Funk, leader of Training and Doctrine Command, says he does not expect the halt to be disruptive to the Army’s training process. April tends to be a slow month before the summer surge. Funk says training will continue on the bases while practicing social distancing methods. There are currently 102 COVID-19 cases in the training pipeline. (Federal News Network)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is also donating protective gear in the fight against the coronavirus. The agency will distribute more than 225,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to FEMA, as well as state and local governments. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency’s donated gear comes from its emergency response offices. This comes after the National Archives and Records Administration donated its excess gear to DC’s Emergency Management Response Team, for the Department of Health and Human Services to distribute.
  • As more and more Defense personnel move to teleworking, DoD is rolling out a commercial cloud platform to help relieve the strain on its networks. The new service, called Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR), is a DoD-only version of Microsoft Teams. It includes email and office software, chat, video conferencing, storage and other collaboration tools, and it’s available from both personally-owned and government devices. But Defense IT officials are stressing this is only a stop-gap measure: Once the COVID-19 emergency is over, the service will be shut down, and any data users have saved in CVR will be erased. (Cloud.mil)
  • The leader of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has called on President Trump to require all employers provide proper protective gear for employees in the face of coronavirus. In a letter to the president, IAM leader Robert Martinez says essential aerospace workers are exposing their communities and families to disease by working without the right equipment or following government guidelines. IAM represents more than 600,000 defense, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation employees.
  • The U.S. Agency for international Development leaves no stone unturned in keeping its contractors up to date. It issued a 39-page frequently-asked-questions document covering funding opportunities, telework and leave, audits, authorized departures and evacuations, and information technology, among other topics. One industry source says the agency continues to impress, and that USAID contracting officers are receptive to questions. The agency approves a class deviation to the IT approval process through June 2, to speed up critical technology acquisition in support of telework.
  • The House will allow members of Congress to introduce bills electronically during the coronavirus pandemic. Starting Tuesday, House staff must submit floor documents, including bills and resolutions, to a secure email system rather than hand-delivering hard copies to the Speaker’s lobby or party cloakrooms. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will accept electronic submissions 15 minutes before and after each pro forma session. The temporary rules change will remain in effect through April 19, one day before Congress reconvenes. But Pelosi says the House might extend that deadline depending on pandemic conditions. (Federal News Network)