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Former Vice President Joe Biden outlined what he’d do as president for the Postal Service. The National Association of Postal Supervisors sent a questionnaire to both candidates, but only the Biden campaign came back with responses. Biden said his administration would work with Congress to eliminate the Postal Service’s mandate since 2006 to prefund retiree health benefits if elected president. His administration would also focus on giving the cash-strapped agency emergency funding to keeping operating beyond next summer. Biden said he’d also help modernize the agency’s vehicle fleet and fill vacant seats on the USPS Board of Governors.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority is out with new decisions that will likely change the course of collective bargaining. The authority first set stricter standards that determine when agencies have to bargain with federal unions over management-directed policy changes. The FLRA will also allow agencies to more quickly implement government regulations and guidance before bargaining new contract agreements. And the authority said agencies can bargain mid-term bargaining issues, otherwise known as zipper clauses. FLRA made these decisions at the request of the Agriculture and Education Departments and the Office of Personnel Management. (Federal News Network)
Here are the four themes federal technology leaders are highlighting during cybersecurity awareness month. The Federal Chief Information Security Officer’s Council will kick off the 17th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month with a demonstration on why strong passwords are so important. The CISO Council’s October 7 webinar will highlight how weak and previously compromised passwords used across organizational and personal accounts may lead to major cyber breach. For the rest of the month, the CISO Council will focus on three other themes, including securing the home network, social engineering from phishing attacks and security in the age of Internet of Things devices.
The federal customer experience continues to improve. That’s not to say it’s great. The latest survey rankings from Forrester Research show the federal customer experience index rose a bit. The average hit slightly higher than 61 out of 100 this year. That says people are more positive than negative about the service they get when visiting agencies online, on the phone, or in person. But the government is nearly 11 points behind the private sector average. The government lags the most, Forrester says, in digital services.
The Environmental Protection Agency is partnering with four agencies to help train the workforce of the future to ensure water and wastewater systems work properly. EPA announced America’s Water Sector Workforce Initiative that includes the departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs all playing roles in recruiting and retaining the new water workforce. EPA said roughly one-third of the nation’s water sector workforce is eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Additionally, the agency is currently coordinating with the “Water Subcabinet” on the development of a federal interagency framework to enhance the recruitment, training, and retention of workers to maintain the viability of a broader water workforce.
Congress has concerns over a Department of Veterans Affairs program designed help family caregivers. VA expanded the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program to some pre-9/11 veterans last week. But Democrats on the House and Senate VA Committees say they’re worried the department certified the IT system needed to support the program even when it wasn’t fully ready. VA told Congress it identified 30 defects with the new IT system it would have to address later. Congress worries VA certified the new IT system anyway as a last ditch effort to meet a regulatory deadline.
Congressional leaders visited troubled Ft. Hood and got promises from the leadership. Fort Hood’s acting commanding general says there will be serious changes to the command climate of the military installation within 90 days. The promise was given to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who visited the base last week. Fort Hood has had issues with sexual assault and criminal activity over the last year. The most famous case is the murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, who was murdered after being repeatedly sexually harassed by another soldier.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both tested negative for the coronavirus after President Donald Trump contracted the disease. Both of the officials were around Trump during the possible incubation period for COVID-19. Esper was in Africa last week and was tested as part of the traveling protocol. The Pentagon says there are currently no changes to the military threat level due to the coronavirus outbreak in the White House.
The Trump Administration took one more step toward filling out the leadership ranks in the Pentagon’s personnel office. The White House has nominated Brian Davis to be the assistant secretary of Defense for manpower and reserve affairs. Davis currently serves as the director of the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center. The M&RA position is one of several key DoD personnel leadership positions that have been vacant since the beginning of the Trump Administration. As of now, three out of five of those positions are held by acting officials. Two more P&R nominees are still awaiting the Senate confirmation process, but that’s unlikely to happen before the presidential election.
The IRS is extending the deadline for individuals to register for a coronavirus stimulus payment to November 21. That gives households that don’t file federal tax returns an extra five weeks to apply if they’re eligible. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says the agency can’t extend the deadline any further without interfering with preparations for the 2020 and 2021 filing seasons. The IRS has gotten more than 5 million nonfilers to sign up for payments through its online portal.