Defense Department opens five medical facilities for coronavirus vaccine trials

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  • The Pentagon has picked five of its health care facilities to help coordinate stage three clinical trials for a potential coronavirus vaccine. The military treatment facilities will start recruiting volunteers for large scale trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate. The facilities are Naval Medical Center San Diego, Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, both in San Antonio, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in the D.C. area.
  • The American Federation of Government Employees is calling for an opt-in option to the payroll tax deferral. AFGE wrote to Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought with its concerns. The union says it’s heard from many members who are concerned about having to pay deferred taxes back next year. AFGE says at the very least federal employees should be able to opt out. At least one large defense agency suggested employees won’t have that option.
  • A group of 128 Environmental Protection Agency employees in Seattle made a lengthy case to its regional administrator to keep telework in place. Employees say maximum telework policies keep their coworkers who must report to EPA research labs and offices safe. They say they’re concerned by regional decisions to move to phase two of their reopening plans, and they fear EPA will move to phase three too quickly. Employees say they should be allowed to telework until there’s a widespread treatment or vaccine for the virus. (Federal News Network)
  • The Social Security Administration is planning to recall more employees back to its field offices. The agency says it will deploy the fewest number of employees needed to help with the mail and dire-need appointments from the public. SSA will accept volunteers first. It’ll choose employees to bring back next if it doesn’t get enough volunteers. The American Federation of Government Employees says it’s unclear how many employees SSA needs to bring back. The union is concerned the agency doesn’t have detailed safety precautions to keep employees and the public safe. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration’s coronavirus plan for federal offices is in need of immediate action, according to its inspector general. GSA’s Public Buildings Service is supposed to tell employees about COVID-19 cases in their buildings within 24 hours. But in one case, auditors found PBS took up to 16 days to notify employees. The agency has responded to more than 3,400 COVID incidents across 660 owned and a thousand leased properties during the pandemic. (Federal News Network)
  • Moving companies that rely on the Defense Department are having a better year than expected. When the coronavirus hit and the military stopped its troops from going to new orders, the moving industry thought a quarter of its businesses would close. Military relocations account for 20% of the moving industry’s business. However, things seem to be rebounding in August and September, giving new life to the industry and protecting an important industrial base. Movers are seeing an uptick in civilian relocations because more companies are moving to permanent teleworking situations. Moving companies are still working at a loss, but are making up for some lost time. (Federal News Network)
  • After seven years of planning and construction, Army Cyber Command completed its new headquarters at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The $366 million facility, called Fortitude Hall, was designed to consolidate the Army’s cyber, electronic warfare and information operations forces under one roof. Officials say about 1,200 soldiers will relocate to Fort Gordon – most of them from their current facilities at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Fort Meade, Maryland. Army Cyber Command’s top leadership has been operating there since July. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration is rolling out an ethics framework for federal employees to follow when working with data. A draft of the document highlights seven high-level principles for employees to follow, such as balancing data transparency with privacy. The Federal Data Strategy gives GSA until December to finalize the framework, but the agency says the framework is a living resource that will go through more revisions beyond the end of the year.
  • The USA Staffing Onboarding platform’s ability to automate and standardize the process to bring new hires into an agency has never been more important than over the last six months. For that demonstrated value, the Office of Personnel Management won the top prize at the ACT-IAC Igniting Innovation awards. The OPM project received 68% of the vote from virtual attendees to beat out 39 other finalists. OPM says more than 211 thousand people have been onboarded through the system in fiscal 2020. Through the platform, agencies also transmitted over 1 million forms and 1.4 million documents electronically to the electronic official personnel file system this year. (Federal News Network)
  • Postal Service employees will now be able to carryover up to 520 hours of annual leave into 2021. That’s because of an agreement the agency reached with the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association. Prior to the new memo, employees could carryover a maximum of 440 hours. This marks the latest in a slew of memos over leave and benefits unions have struck with the Postal Service during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Chris Liddell, who led the Office of American Innovation and oversaw the roll out of the IT modernization Centers of Excellence, will be nominated for a new job. President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Liddell to be the new secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Liddell served as the assistant to the President and director of strategic initiatives until March 2018 when he moved to be the deputy chief of staff for policy coordination at the White House.