Federal employees with kids stuck at home can get some educational help

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  • Feds teleworking with bambinos at home struggling with school on an iPad can get some educational relief. The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund has teamed up with Tutor.com to offer free academic tutoring for kids in K-12. The online help is available to federal civilian and postal employees earning less than $100,000 a year and have kids in school. There’s also a program for Defense Department and Coast Guard families. Tutor claims nearly a million one-on-one sessions per year for the last 20 years.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is urging federal employees to get their annual flu shots. Most plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program cover flu shots for participants for free. This includes vaccines at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Some agencies are also offering free flu shot clinics on site at the office. OPM and the Department of Health and Human Services say employees can do their part to reduce the stress on the healthcare system during the pandemic by getting their flu shots this year.
  • The Pentagon is implementing a new regime of coronavirus testing for military personnel and their families before they’re allowed to travel overseas. Starting this week, some military members and dependents travelling on the chartered commercial aircraft known as the Patriot Express will have to take an on-site rapid COVID-19 test before they’re allowed to board. The Pentagon says it’s a proof of concept, starting with passengers departing from BWI Airport in Baltimore and SEATAC airport near Seattle. 10-15% of passengers will be randomly picked for testing for each flight. Until now, military passengers have undergone temperature screenings and questionnaires, but not diagnostic tests.
  • Agencies have some new deadlines to meet in the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts implement a 2018 executive order on employee firings. The Office of Personnel Management wants agencies to report on the number of people they’ve disciplined or fired within the last two years. OPM is also interested in the number of federal employees who received a formal opportunity to improve their performance. Military departments are also included in OPM’s data call. Reports are due in mid-February.
  • Turns out federal hiring laws require a college degree for fewer than 20% of government jobs. The Office of Personnel Management says educational requirements will remain in place for about 40 federal occupations. But 350 other federal jobs will no longer require candidates to have a college degree to be minimally qualified for the job. The initial review from OPM is part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to implement a June executive order from the president. The EO urges agencies to use skills-based assessments to screen candidates for certain federal positions. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is pushing agencies to contract more with the AbilityOne program. In a new memo from Administrator Michael Wooten, OFPP lays out five steps agencies should take to do more to help people with disabilities. OFPP is telling agencies to designate a senior AbilityOne representative to advocate for buying from the program and to make a pledge to increase contracting by a specific percentage. OFPP says in 2019 agencies spent an all time high of more than $3.9 billion with the AbilityOne program.
  • Did the CIA award its mega-cloud contract? All signs point to yes. The CIA looks to have chosen five vendors: AWS, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, for spots on its 10-year, $10 billion cloud contract called C2E. Federal News Network has learned the CIA made the decision for awards last week. the CIA and all the winning vendors declined to comment. C2E is the follow on to the CIA’s C2S contract awarded in 2013 only to AWS. Under new contract, the CIA is moving to a multi-vendor, multi cloud approach for commercial cloud services that meet specific mission and security requirements. (Federal News Network)
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is strengthening its agency partnerships to handle employment discrimination cases. The departments of Justice and Labor have signed onto a revised memorandum of understanding to maximize efficiency and avoid duplicative efforts in this work. DOJ is a new addition to the memo, which was last updated in 2011. The memo also reaffirms that Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will ensure employees doing business with the federal government comply with nondiscrimination laws and regulations.
  • House Democrats are looking for an update on how and when some federal employees will return to work. With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country, members of the House Ways and Means Committee are asking the Office of Personnel Management if it’ll issue new guidance on mandatory telework and reopening federal offices for the winter months. The committee members have also asked OPM for the steps it’s taken to make sure the departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are taking to follow CDC guidelines for employees returning to in-person work.
  • If Congress approves another round of COVID-19 stimulus payments, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill to avoid improper payments. The Stopping Improper Payments to Foreigners Act would allow the Department of Homeland Security to share a list of nonimmigrant visa-holders that the IRS could use to determine who’s eligible to receive stimulus payments. The bill would also allow DHS to block visa renewals for individuals who wrongly received an Economic Incentive Payment from the IRS.
  • If your agency or organization is interested in acquiring any military artifacts, there’s a new chance to get your hands on some. The U.S. Army Museum Enterprise is looking to divest some of its surplus material among the 580,000 historical artifacts it currently manages. It’s part of a five-year effort to reform the Army Artifact Collection, as it’s currently conducting a phased review to identify and differentiate significant artifacts that need to be preserved from the surplus material.

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