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As agencies are developing their plans to reopen offices, the National Treasury Employees Union releases its own conditions. NTEU says it’s only safe to start bringing employees back when state stay at home orders are lifted, there’s widespread coronavirus testing of employees, and agencies provide masks for them. They should also ensure they have procedures for temperature screening and enough cleaning supplies in stock before employees begin to return to the office. NTEU says employees who are high risk for the virus should continue to telework for as long as possible.
One group of federal employees who have to work in close quarters indoors reports success in keeping the virus at bay. The Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic controllers union says members, working with FAA management, have the supplies and protective gear they need. While more than 30 controllers have contracted COVID-19, all have recovered so far. The union’s executive director, Trish Gilbert, says the dropoff in air traffic means control centers can operate with fewer people, letting them work farther apart than normal.
More concern over personal protective equipment at Veterans Affairs. House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is calling on the administration to focus on supply needs at VA. She says the White House should deploy the Defense Production Act to ensure it has enough masks and other protective gear for its employees. Nearly 2,000 VA employees have been diagnosed with coronavirus. 20 have died.
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee gained some momentum in overseeing nearly $3 trillion in stimulus spending. A government-wide council of inspectors general has picked Robert Westbrooks, the former IG for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, to serve as the committee’s executive director. Westbrooks recently served as the IG for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and held leadership posts at IG offices for the Small Business Administration, the Transportation Department, the Postal Service and the National Archives and Records Administration. (Federal News Network)
Census Bureau officials tell the House Oversight and Reform Committee they’re considering a phased restart to field operations for the 2020 census. That means census workers could resume operations at different times in different areas, rather than wait for a nationwide restart the bureau planned for June 1. The bureau still expects to complete the count by the end of October, but under this timeline Congress will still have to pass a bill to extend certain statutory deadlines to April 2021.
Agencies are on deadline to designate a career executive to serve as their organization’s transition director. The Office of Management and Budget says agencies should name a transition director by the end of the week. They’ll all serve on the Transition Director Council headed up by the General Services Administration. Smaller agencies have until May 1 to name a transition point of contact. The transition council will first meet on May 27. All agencies have until September 15 to develop their own succession plans for presidential transition. (White House)
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is taking off the training wheels of its shared services offering. The Office of Management and Budget formally named CISA as the Quality Service Management Office for cybersecurity services, including security operation center standardization, vulnerability management standardization and DNS resolver services. The final designation as a shared services center was hardly in doubt ever since CISA received $25 million in the fiscal 2020 appropriations bill for its office. This is the first formal designation of a Q-SMO with other final decisions expected around financial management, human resources and grants management in the coming months.
Another big name in the federal IT sector is moving on. Bill Zielinski, the assistant commissioner of the Information Technology Category for the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, is leaving federal service after 30 years. In an email to colleagues, which Federal News Network obtained, Zielinski says he has taken a job as a CIO of a large city out west. He didn’t specifically say where he was heading. His last day at GSA will be June 5 and Laura Stanton, currently the deputy assistant commissioner for ITC, will take over on an acting basis. Zielinski came to GSA in 2016, and also worked at OMB, SSA and OPM. (Federal News Network)
The Navy’s assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs will also be performing the duties of deputy Navy secretary. Gregory Slavonic will continue serving in his current position as he temporarily takes on the second highest civilian position in the Navy. The service is going through a leadership crisis after acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned earlier this month. James McPherson is now serving as the acting Navy secretary.
The Navy is changing the way it promotes junior enlisted sailors because of the coronavirus pandemic. At this time during a normal year, about 20,000 sailors would be taking written exams to determine if they can advance from the rank of Seaman to Petty Officer Third Class. But the Navy has decided those exams aren’t compatible with social distancing guidelines, and it’s cancelled them. Instead, the service will promote those sailors based on other factors, including how well they’ve done on previous exams and other measures of on-the-job performance.
A bipartisan group of senators want to know how COVID-19 will affect the readiness of the military and what the Defense Department needs to get back to normal. In a letter to Defense Sec. Mark Esper, the senators ask that DoD keep Congress informed of the time and resources need for recovery. They also ask if there will be any shortages in critical job positions. The letter states that the crisis gives DoD a unique opportunity to evaluate what training is necessary for service members. (Sen. Thom Tillis)