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An IRS watchdog found serious gaps in the agency’s enforcement of high-income households that haven’t filed or paid their taxes. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports the IRS didn’t take a closer look at nearly 370,000 high-income non-filers between 2014 and 2016, with more than $20 billion in unpaid taxes. The IRS also removed more than 37,000 high-income non-filers from their enforcement caseload with more than $3 billion in estimated unpaid taxes.
A coalition of federal employee unions is seeking additional safety assurances as agencies reopen their facilities. The Federal Workers Coalition wrote directly to President Trump. The unions described 11 steps they want agencies to take to ensure employees are safe at the office. They’re asking agencies to provide on-demand coronavirus testing for employees who believed they were exposed. They’re also asking agencies to provide telework and administrative leave flexibilities to employees, and not to pressure them about coming back to the work site. (Federal News Network)
Add the Office of Personnel Management to a growing list of agencies with new reopening plans. OPM will strongly encourage employees to continue teleworking during the first two phases of its reopening plan, especially those with child care or transportation challenges. The agency also says it’ll give employees at least a week’s notice before reopening a facility under all three phases. Masks won’t be required at OPM facilities. But OPM managers should make sure security staff and employees who interact with the public do have masks and gloves at the office. Some workspaces will be modified to better comply with social distancing guidelines. (Federal News Network)
Construction on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority metro lines should be a part of agencies’ reopening plans. OPM is strongly encouraging agencies to allow their employees to keep teleworking during the summer metro construction. Nine stations on the orange and silver lines are closed for track work. OPM acting Director Michael Rigas says agencies are in the best position to determine which employees are impacted by metro closures during the pandemic. Nine stations on the orange and silver lines are closed for track work. Construction is expected to continue indefinitely through the summer and possibly longer.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office altered a key process to accommodate pandemic difficulties. PTO takes the position that the COVID-19 threat constitutes an extraordinary situation under patent law. Law and regulations now prohibit parties applying for patent extensions from doing so online. But the law lets PTO waive that restriction because of the extraordinary situation. Now extension applicants to use the Patent Electronic System to file their papers. PTO director Andrei Iancu says the agency is exploring a plan to make e-filing of extensions permanent.
The nation’s military service academies are planning to bring students back for the fall semester. Each academy sent its students home in March and quickly transitioned to distance learning. But they’re planning to have students physically present in at least some form this fall. Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the superintendent of the Naval Academy says some parts of midshipmen’s academic work can be done virtually, but other parts of their military training require them to be in Annapolis. He says the academy will implement new protocols to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. (Federal News Network)
A new leader has taken over at the Office of Naval Research. Rear Adm. Lorin Selby is the new chief of naval research. Selby served as a submarine command, naval engineer and acquisition officer. He will oversee $2 billion of the Navy’s science and technology programs. He previously served as Naval Sea System Command’s chief engineer. He takes over the positions from Rear Admiral David Hahn, who is retiring.
Businesses looking for accreditation with the Defense Department for cybersecurity compliance, under the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification model, will be able to start later this week. . DoD acquisition chief Ellen Lord signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Board, saying the Pentagon will accept certification from it. The CMMC is supposed to beef up DoD’s cybersecurity and supply chain security. The agreement states that DoD will accept certifications from the CMMC’s assessment organization.
DHS has taken important steps in the right direction to address large scale technology project failures. The Department of Homeland Security is well on its way to getting IT management off of the high risk list. Since 2003, the Government Accountability Office listed the agency’s management of IT projects as a problem area, but a new report finds real progress. Auditors say DHS has taken significant steps to implement agile software development and end its use of the waterfall methodology. GAO says DHS implemented agile methodology around programs, projects, and teams, but still needs to make progress in several areas like tracking project metrics.
The Social Security Administration faced a deluge of scam calls in 2019, topping more than 850,000. The SSA inspector general says the agency says it cost more than $8 million and more than 100 work years dealing with the bad actors, who have been increasingly spoofing the agency’s 800-number to try to obtain disability, retirement and social security cards. Investigators say SSA has taken steps to deal with the problem, including creating a dedicated imposter scam online reporting form and increased public awareness against the impostors.
Agencies handled a surge of Freedom of Information Act requests last year, but didn’t set a new record in terms of the volume of incoming requests. The federal government received more than 800,000 requests for the third year in a row, but most requests only go to five agencies. The departments of Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, plus the National Archives and Records Administration, account for three of every four FOIA requests. Despite last year’s 35-day partial government shutdown, agencies reduced the overall FOIA backlog by nearly 8%. (Department of Justice)