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.
Thirty years after the passage of the CFO Act, Congress has some work to do. The Government Accountability Office made nine recommendations for how lawmakers could modernize the 1990 law. GAO says the law improved financial accountability across most agencies and centralized leadership. But auditors say Congress should update it to ensure CFOs and deputy CFOs have consistent responsibilities and require OMB to prepare financial management performance-based metrics and evaluate the financial performance of agencies.
Federal employees at last have more details on their new paid parental leave benefits. The Office of Personnel Management is out with new regulations on the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. The new program goes into effect October 1. The regulations clarify paid leave coverage for both parents of a new child if both are federal employees. They also reiterate coverage isn’t available before October 1. Employees can only use the paid leave after the birth of a new child. But employees may use unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Federal News Network)
Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency got another day of telework back. The American Federation of Government Employees says it struck a new collective bargaining agreement with EPA. The new contract allows EPA employees to telework up to two days a week. The prior agreement imposed a one-day a week limit. EPA and AFGE resumed bargaining negotiations on a new contract after the Federal Labor Relations Authority determined the agency had bargained in bad faith. The new contract is in place for five years.
The State Department is looking to return to normal operations at passport agencies in the next six-to-eight weeks. This comes after the agency lifted its global health advisory that limited nearly all international travel since the start of the pandemic. The agency still advises Americans to reconsider or avoid traveling to most destinations overseas. The majority of passport agencies have reopened since June, and passport specialists have brought the backlog of applications down from 1.8 million to 1 million. (Federal News Network)
A bill to strengthen whistleblower reporting has come into focus. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is working on a bill to strengthen the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits and sue fraudsters on behalf of the federal government. Grassley’s bill would require the Justice Department to state its reasons for dropping charges in a False Claims Act case, an agency practice that he says has been on the rise. The False Claims Act has helped the federal government recover more than $62 billion since 1986.
Agencies will no longer be able to buy used or refurbished computers off of the GSA schedules. The General Services Administration announced it was retiring the special item number for this equipment on September 30. GSA says the decision is based on supply chain risks and the declining sales and customer demand for used or refurbished computers. The agency says it will hold an informational webinar on August 26 to discuss the changes.
DHS has begun to build a new cybersecurity platform for agencies to report problems. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency took the first step to build a vulnerability disclosure platform for civilian agencies. CISA, through GSA acting as the procurement arm, released a solicitation looking for an existing, commercially available cloud platform to track vulnerabilities discovered in online systems. Under the contract, the vendor also will run bug bounty programs to help find potential and real cyber threats. The platform will be among the first services offered by the cybersecurity Quality Services Management Office or QSMO. Bids are due August 18.
More veterans are using online tools from the Department of Veterans Affairs to communicate with VA and fill prescriptions during the pandemic. VA says My Health-E-Vet usage is up overall between January and June this year. Secure messages between veterans and their providers are up 24% during that time compared to last year. Prescription requests through My Health-E-Vet are up 8%.
The Army is trying to understand the reasons behind a rise in violent crime at Fort Hood, Texas. In the wake of the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy says he’s spent the past week holding listening sessions at Fort Hood. The Army has commissioned an independent investigation to look at command climate and cultural issues at Fort Hood, but at a news conference yesterday, he said the data clearly shows Fort Hood has one of the highest rates of murder, sexual assault and harassment in the Army. McCarthy says the Army is also launching a new effort called Project Inclusion to address issues including diversity, discrimination and sexual harassment. (Federal News Network)
The Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement secured indictments in what they call the biggest single-state work site enforcement actions ever. Four managers from a Mississippi chicken processing company called A&B are indicted on a variety of immigration law violations. The 2019 investigation had resulted in the detention of 680 illegal aliens, some of whom used stolen identities and falsified immigration documents. One of the executives, Salvador Delgado Nieves, could receive decades in prison and millions in fines if found guilty.