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.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee want to know how the Office of Personnel Management is keeping federal employees safe during another COVID-19 wave. They say they’re especially concerned top leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury and Labor Departments are ignoring guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lawmakers say these agencies are rushing to reopen offices and resume in-person work to appease the president. They want to know whether OPM will issue new or updated guidance in light of a recent surge of new COVID-19 cases.
Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) retained his seat. Outside the beltway, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) won her race, and Susan Collins of Maine currently has the lead in that state. In the House, many of Virginia’s more prominent members held on to their seats including Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), and Don Beyer (D-Va.). Same goes for Maryland Reps which included Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). Overall Democrats will be retaining their House majority.
The Postal Service swept 220 mail-processing facilities for any remaining undelivered ballots. USPS checked mail processing facilities in more than a dozen of its districts, many in battleground states, following a federal judge’s court order. The order stems in part from USPS data showing about 300,000 ballots scanned into its mail processing plants didn’t receive an exit scan indicating they went out for delivery. But attorneys for USPS said ballots were delivered under extraordinary measures, and didn’t receive an exit scan as it would under normal procedures. (Federal News Network)
Agencies have 30 days to come up with a plan to meet the new requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act. In a new memo, the Office of Management and Budget lays out deadlines to implement the final rule issued by the Council on Environmental Quality in July. The new regulations require agencies to reduce the time and effort to complete environmental reviews for federally sponsored projects. OMB wants updates on agency progress to implement the new regulations in March and again in August.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority issued a blow to the union representing immigration judges. Immigrations judges at the Justice Department will lose their collective bargaining rights thanks to a new decision from the FLRA. The authority says immigration judges are management officials and shouldn’t be part of a bargaining unit. The Justice Department had asked FLRA to review a decision it made 20 years ago on the bargaining status of its immigration judges. The authority’s new decision clears the way for Justice Department to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges.
Veterans Affairs is in talks with the Defense Department to develop a joint data and analytics strategy. VA’s chief data officer Kshemendra Paul said the strategy will build off VA’s recent customer experience work and journey mapping of how veterans interact with the services that VA offers. “We’re looking to push those back in to the service members’ journey. An obvious idea, but one that’s pretty profound and leads to a lot of implications for interoperability, data sharing, joint analytics, joint development and things like that.” (Federal News Network)
The Navy still has a lot of work to do to dig out of the readiness problems caused by delayed maintenance. Since 2014, the Navy’s surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines have been subject to a collective 39,000 days of delayed maintenance, according to the Government Accountability Office. A new GAO audit says the Navy has made some progress in understanding why individual ships aren’t getting fixed on time, but it still hasn’t conducted a comprehensive analysis to identify systemic causes. Auditors say the Navy may have been overly optimistic about what it will take to keep ships operating over the long run when they’re first built.
GSA began the next part of the schedules modernization program. Contractors have the chance to weigh in on what the future catalog or online listing of products and services should look like under the multiple award schedules program run by the General Services Administration. In a new request for information. GSA is seeking feedback from contract holders on the current and future state of the catalog management infrastructure. GSA says the input will help inform its requirements for a new web-based user interface for catalog management. The catalog includes text files and PDFs for information such as terms and conditions, price lists and labor categories. Responses to the RFI are due November 13.
TSP funds mostly performed better in October, but only the S fund made it into the black. The I fund is the only one that turned in a worse performance, falling deeper into the red. Every other fund improved from September, but still posted negative returns. The G fund held steady, even if returns were minimal. Its current year-to-date return is only 0.82%. If it continues to perform the same, it won’t clear a one percent annual return in 2020. (Federal News Network)