Pilots will still get incentive payments, even if they’re grounded during the pandemic

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  • The Pentagon says servicemembers who get special incentive payments for hazardous assignments like piloting, diving and parachuting can still get their bonuses even if the pandemic is stopping them from carrying out those missions. Troops should contact their chain of command to ask about any steps they need to take to keep their incentive payments intact.
  • Senate Democrats are proposing $25,000 payments for federal employees working on the front lines of the pandemic. Their recommendation is part of a broader legislative proposal for a fourth coronavirus rescue package. Senators say essential federal employees at the Veterans Health Administration…. Transportation Security Administration and other health and safety agencies would be eligible for a maximum of $25,000. Federal employees teleworking from home during the pandemic wouldn’t be eligible. Essential workers in the private sector are also covered under the Senate proposal. (Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service says it will run out of cash before the end of the fiscal year without help from Congress. The agency’s board of governors is asking Congress for $75 billion in the next round of coronavirus spending. A third of that would be direct funding, another third would go to fleet and facility upgrades, and a third would be an increased line of credit from the Treasury Department. USPS expects a $22 billion in revenue over the next 18 months linked to the coronavirus pandemic. (Federal News Network)
  • DoD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence moved quickly to get new policies out to make sure contractors get paid. Agencies can pay vendors back at their current rates if their employees can’t work because of the outbreak. DoD and ODNI also say contracting officers can forgive any delays in projects due to the emergency. The goal of the memos is to keep industry in a “ready state” over the next few months.
  • The Army is offering prizes of up to $100,000 to companies who can design prototypes for a new portable ventilator. The Army is conducting the prize challenge through its xTechSearch program. It’s open to any American business, as long as they’re ready to pitch their ideas for ventilator technology via video conference by Monday. Officials hope to pick winners to build the first prototype a week later. The Army wants the devices to be mass-producible, low-cost, and ready to go into field hospitals that are still getting up and running.
  • The leader of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling on Customs and Border Protection to restore its weather and safety leave program for frontline officers. The program allowed CBP officers to come to their duty stations four days a week with one day on weather and safety leave. But Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) says CBP rescinded those schedules on the same day it cut back its hours at 45 ports of entry. He says the decision unnecessarily puts CBP officers at risk while border crossings are down. Thompson says vehicle and pedestrian crossings at ports of entry are down between 72% and 83%. (Federal News Network)
  • Homeland Security’s consolidated campus in Southeast D.C. could see funding in the next round of coronavirus spending. D,C, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is requesting money for the St. Elizabeths West campus, to help move DHS components move out of expensive leased space. Saint E’s has been in the works for more than a decade. DHS expects to complete construction by 2026, and have 14,000 of its employees work out of the campus once it’s finished.
  • More arbitrators at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service are turning to video during the pandemic. FMCS says at least 150 arbitrators can resolve labor-management disputes now via video hearings and more are coming online each day. FMCS says the move allows it to keep its employees teleworking during the coronavirus pandemic. But the agency had been exploring the possibility of video before the pandemic. FMCS added a feature to its online arbitration system that allows parties to request video hearings and meetings.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have suspended several rules so that healthcare providers have more options to hire staff and treat patients. It lets doctors work across state lines, telephonically if necessary. Nurse practitioners gain permission to do exams on Medicare patients in nursing homes. Hospice nurses get relief from training aides to free up time for patients. The CMS list of health care rules wavers runs 29 pages.
  • NASA is seeing a new and aggressive wave of cyber attacks. CIO Renee Wynn wrote a memo saying the security operations center has seen a doubling of the number of phishing attempts, an exponential increase in malware attacks and twice as many actions required to block access to malicious sites. Wynn says the SOC has prevented success of these malicious attempts. She also provided employees with eight best practices, including not opening personal email or social media accounts on NASA equipment and use only approved software and applications.