To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
The top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wants more details on agency reopening plans. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) wrote to the heads of 24 agencies asking for their plans. He wants to know how agencies are going to provide masks and other protective equipment for employees, how they’re modifying office space to comply with social distancing guidelines, and how they’re informing employees of positive coronavirus cases.
More inspectors general said they’ll take a closer look at their agencies’ reopening plans. The IG for the US Agency for International Development says an initial review of USAID plans will be completed next month. The IG says she’ll focus her initial review on reopening in the national capital region. The State Department has oversight of USAID offices overseas. The Commerce Department IG said she too is reviewing agency reopening plans. The IG said Commerce has a working group that’s making reopening decisions. The Census Bureau has a dashboard to guide its decisionmaking. (Federal News Network)
Workforce training is a priority for the Trump administration in the final months of 2020. The Office of Personnel Management said it’ll provide training, forums, engagement and succession planning, and resources for agency supervisors to better manage employee performance. Training for agency human resources professionals is also an administration priority. OPM said the goal is to give agencies at least 48 tools, flexibilities and authorities to help them tackle human capital challenges by 2021. (Federal News Network)
The host of past Presidential Rank Awards ceremonies dismissed the Trump administration’s decision to cancel the honors this year. The Senior Executives Association said government needs to recognize contributions from career executives now during the pandemic more than ever. SEA interim President Bob Corsi said the cash bonuses executives receive are a modest incentive to keep them in government. He said canceling the awards continues to send a message that federal employees are faceless bureaucrats. (Federal News Network)
A group of lawmakers outlined ways to mitigate national security threats caused by climate change. The National Security Task Force within the House Democratic Caucus suggested strengthening climate preparedness for Defense Department procurement, logistics and supply chains. The panel also wants DoD to update its climate change adaption road map and provide resources and funding to adapt future operations to climate change. The Pentagon previously stated extreme weather, rising tides and drought pose a threat to the United States and could cause global conflict.
The Army is following in the Air Force’s footsteps by setting up a software hub. The Army Futures Command started its Software Factory in Austin, Texas, yesterday. The organization will work on software needs telegraphed by soldiers and prepare the service for warfare in 2028 and beyond. The Army predicts soldiers in the future will need to come up with ad-hoc software solutions without direct oversight and direction from leadership. The Software Factory will cultivate soldiers that can develop software in those situations. It will begin working on projects early next year. (Federal News Network)
The Bureau of the Fiscal Service launched a one-stop shop online for its most popular data sets. FiscalData.Treasury.gov gives users access to 18 of the bureau’s most popular financial datasets, including monthly and daily Treasury statements. The bureau spent the past year working with data analysts, librarians and journalists for feedback on searching and downloading data. The site lets users download data on debt, revenue, and spending in machine-readable formats.
One of the longest serving political appointees is leaving the government. Michael Evanoff, who has been the assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security at the State Department since November 2017, announced he’s heading to the private sector. In an email to staff, which Federal News Network obtained, Evanoff said he has accepted a new position as a global vice president and chief security officer at a multi-national company. His last day is July 24. During his 900-day tenure, Evanoff accomplished several goals including creating a chief information security office that reports to the agency CIO, increasing hiring, finalizing agreements with the Intelligence Community, and gaining approval to lift overtime caps for protection.
Federal contracting continues on under the coronavirus pandemic and the Office of Management and Budget has highlighted some agency success stories. NASA and the Department of Homeland Security have hosted virtual industry days and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued solicitations for software design and development that require vendors to submit a video proposal. The Agriculture Department has also completed 27 crop inspections virtually through mobile technology that would normally happen in person.
The urgency of the pandemic showed VA it needs to do more to secure its applications and data. The Veterans Affairs Department realized that the surge in telehealth, the use of off-the-shelf mobile devices and other pandemic-related technology is requiring it to change its approach to cybersecurity. VA’s CIO office released a request for information to establish an agile, proactive and measurable Cybersecurity Innovation Program. The CIP initiative would give VA access to an assortment of innovative technologies to help it respond to risks created by special situations. Responses to the RFI are due July 21.
The National Nuclear Security Administration is relying more and more on online job fairs, holding two of them less than a month apart. NNSA is planning a follow up event next week after a virtual job fair it held June 24. The agency is trying to hire 130 people for a variety of technical and managerial jobs. NNSA said 600 people joined the earlier event, participating in chat sessions and interviews. For the next one, agency staff will review resumes ahead of time.
The Postal Service anticipates changes to its operations could lead to temporary delays in mail delivery. To cut transportation costs, an internal memo prohibits late or extra trips to deliver mail. It also directs mail carriers to start and complete their routes on time. That means some mail might get left behind and would have to get delivered the next business day. The memo says late and extra delivery trips cost the Postal Service $200 million annually. (Federal News Network)
When federal travel returns, GSA has a new contract in place to give agencies big savings. The new City Pairs contract for fiscal 2021 with eight carriers offers a 52% discount on comparable commercial fares. Agencies also have the maximum flexibility allowed in how employees book air travel, with benefits including no cancellation or change fees. GSA expects the contract to save the government more than $1.2 billion over the life of the contract.