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The Defense Department has taken plenty of heat for health and safety problems in its privatized housing programs. But there are plenty of issues in government-owned housing too. A new inspector general’s report found “systemic deficiencies” in dealing with lead-based paint, radon and asbestos in the relative handful of family housing units DoD still runs itself – mostly overseas. Investigators visited eight separate bases that account for 41% of military-owned family housing. They found base officials routinely failed to keep records on potential hazardous substances in those homes, and didn’t issue warnings to the families living in them. The IG says the military services do perform inspections on their housing – but they’re mostly focused on keeping homes in good condition, not on invisible health and safety threats.
Employees of government contractors who feel like they were discriminated against have a new place to go to help resolves their complaints. The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs officially opened the door to its Ombuds Service. It offers neutral third party dispute resolution services between employees and government contractors. The ombuds service offers neutral third party dispute resolution services between employees and government contractors. Through this effort, employees and contractors can address root causes and identify ways to fix ongoing concerns.
Another federal employee union is calling for more protections for their members. The National Federation of Federal Employees is writing to President Trump with a list of demands before agencies begin reopening their offices. The union says agencies must provide their employees with masks and other protective wear. NFFE President Randy Erwin suggests agencies bring employees back in staggered shifts to minimize potential exposure. And he says agencies have policies that protect employees if they’re sent home for showing coronavirus symptoms or being exposed to someone else with the virus at work.
The IRS fell short of its goal of getting 11,000 employees to volunteer to return to the office, and may ask more workers to return next week. But the agency is also looking at extending retention pay benefits for employees who did return beyond the first two pay periods the agency already promised. Professional Managers Association President Chad Hooper says mailroom employees fall on the higher end of the retention benefits spectrum, and are getting 25% of their normal salaries as a bonus. (Federal News Network)
The Small Business Administration quietly extends its so-called safe harbor time for return of Payroll Protection Program loans. Companies now have an extra week ,to May 14, to pay back a Cares Act the loan if they don’t think they can make the case for the money in good faith or in a way that satisfied SBA rules. The Crowell Moring law firm points out another change. Companies applying with fewer than 500 employees must include the headcount of both U.S. and foreign affiliates. (Department of the Treasury)
A few current and former government executives are launching a new task force to study how well agencies are managing their people. The Senior Executives Association and IBM Center for the Business of Government are partnering with the University of Illinois, Chicago. They’re going to develop a framework to assess the quality of management in government, and then suggest ways agencies could implement their ideas.
The National Security and Counterintelligence Center at last has permanent leadership. The Senate voted 84 to 7 to confirm Bill Evanina as the NCSC director. Evanina’s nomination has been pending for nearly two years. He’s lead the NCSC since 2014. But a 2016 intelligence authorization law made the position subject to president nomination and Senate confirmation. Evanina has been leading the charge to overhaul and modernize the security clearance and personnel vetting system.
A new postmaster general will lead the Postal Service next month. Supply-chain and distribution center executive Louis DeJoy will serve as the next postmaster general, and start on June 15. He’ll take over for Postmaster General Megan Brennan, who expected to retire in January, but held off until the board found a successor. The USPS Board of Governors started its search late year with more than 200 candidates. DeJoy will be the first postmaster general in more than 20 years to lead the Postal Service without prior experience working there. (Federal News Network)
Major Gen. Dennis Crall is slated to become the next top IT official for the military’s Joint Staff. He’ll replace Lieutenant General Brad Shwedo, the current Joint Staff chief information officer. Crall comes to the job from his current positions as DoD’s principal cyber advisor. Before that, he was the Marine Corps’ chief information officer. Crall’s new position comes with a promotion to Lieutenant General once he’s approved by the Senate. (Department of Defense)
About 30,000 military families will move between now and the end of June even though the Defense Department is stopping relocations to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Those families were given exemptions to move while most military families will wait until the virus passes. U.S. Transportation Command is requiring that industry screen its employees for symptoms before they go on a job and present families with a form certifying the movers have been screened. (Federal News Network)
Census will launch new survey about the impact of the coronavirus on the nation. The Census Bureau is buying a new tool to conduct a rapid response survey study regarding coronavirus and its impact on the public, businesses and policymakers. Census issued a sole source justification to buy a software-as-a-service platform from Qualtrics for $2 million. Under this one-year contract, Census will use the Qualtrics platform, which is currently authorized to operate by the bureau, for survey programming, administration and dissemination data review and analysis. Census says it planned to launch the survey by April 30.