CBP has put money towards catching forced labor products; now it needs manpower

In today's Federal Newscast, while the Homeland Security Department dedicated more resources to stopping goods made by forced labor from entering the country, i...

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  • While the Homeland Security Department dedicated more resources to stopping goods made by forced labor from entering the country, it still needs to address its workforce needs for the mission. The Government Accountability Office found Customs and Border Protection has not assessed and documented the staffing levels or skills needed for its Forced Labor Division. It even had to suspend some ongoing investigations due to staff shortages. GAO said while there is a plan in place to expand the workforce, CBP needs to layout just what skills it’s looking for.
  • Thrift Savings Plan participants can contribute a maximum of $19,500 dollars toward their retirement next year. The IRS says employee contribution limits remain unchanged for 2021. The annual catch-up contribution limit for federal employees over the age of 50 is $6,500. Catch-up contributions allow employees closer to retirement to set aside more of their income toward 401K plans like the TSP.
  • The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s chief technology officer is retiring after 20 years in federal service. Mark Munsell is set to retire in November. As CTO he helped develop and modernize NGA’s technology and streamlined capabilities. He also published the NGA’s first technology strategy. Munsell formerly served as the NGA’s chief information officer and IT services deputy director.
  • Another attempt to block the president’s Schedule F executive order. Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are asking the Trump administration to immediately stop implementing the new EO. At least until the administration shares documents detailing the development of the executive order and an analysis of its impact. The letter comes from committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), plus over a dozen other members. Agencies are currently under a 90-day deadline to review their positions and create a list of jobs that could move under the new Schedule F. (Federal News Network)
  • In the lead up to the election, a federal judge ordered USPS to tell employees operational changes remain on-hold. The Postal Service is sending its employees a notice telling them an earlier policy that restricted late and extra trips between mail processing facilities and post offices is on hold. The memo says staff should count on making these extra trips if necessary to ensure on-time delivery of ballots and election mail. The judge’s ruling also required the Postal Service to provide daily updates on on-time mail delivery, as well as the on-time delivery of election mail. The Postal Service says daily metrics don’t provide the same context as the weekly performance metrics it’s been sending to Congress. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification advisory board are close to a new agreement to put the supply chain initiative on more solid ground. Katie Arrington, the chief information security officer in the DoD acquisition and sustainment office, said the Pentagon will make the no-cost statement of work public once it’s finalized. She also says the military services and agencies are close to finalizing the 15 solicitations that will test out the CMMC standards in 2021.
  • OMB is creating a strong foundation for governmentwide shared services so an industry association is suggesting how to make it stick. More attention to discipline, execution and results are needed to finally get back-office shared services moving across government. That is the conclusion of the Shared Services Leadership Coalition’s new white paper that interviewed industry and federal executives. The coalition made 11 recommendations for how agencies can overcome obstacles that have stymied shared services for the better part of two decades. Public and private sector executives both keyed in on the need to hold agencies accountable and for the initiatives to show true results whether it’s cost savings or better services. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is partnering with Google to enhance the agency’s use of satellite and environmental data through artificial intelligence and machine learning. NOAA signed onto a three-year Other Transactional Agreement, a vehicle that allows the agency to quickly award small research and prototyping contracts without a lengthy competitive bidding process. The agreement includes NOAA and Google working together to provide AI training to the agency’s workforce.
  • The Army took some lessons from Shark Tank to find some new advances. Welcome to the Dragon Innovation Challenge, the Army’s spinoff of a certain famous TV show where contestants pitch business ideas. The Army was looking for a way to manage its ranges and found a winner in Maj. Evan Adams. He developed an application for scheduling, managing and forecasting range and land use across the Army. Adams beat out 87 other submissions. The Army will now help Adams scale his invention. He also gets a four-day weekend to relax after spending hours developing the product.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development is days from establishing new plans and procedures for dealing with COVID-infested countries. Over the summer, the agency conducted an intense planning exercise called an over-the-horizon strategic review. Acting Administrator John Barsa said it was aimed at enabling USAID to maintain mission delivery in countries weakened institutionally by the pandemic. He said countries that were fragile have become brittle, and not just in health and health care. Now it is reviewing the country-by-country recommendations with its allied agencies including the State Department.
  • A former Drug Enforcement Administration public affairs officer receives a seven year prison sentence for defrauding at least a dozen companies of over $4.4 million, while pretending to be a covert CIA agent. According to the Justice Department, Garrison Courtney falsely claimed to be a covert officer of the CIA involved in a highly-classified program or “task force” involving various components of the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense. He used the fake story to gain employment with certain companies, saying he needed the jobs as cover for his “real” mission.

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