Executive order on employee firings gives birth to OPM guide

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  • Regulations implementing pieces of the President’s 2018 executive order on employee firings are now final. The Office of Personnel Management is out with a guide to help federal managers better understand them. OPM reminded agencies that they’re still expected to help poor performers improve. And they’re supposed to make better use of probationary periods when hiring new employees. OPM says it will work with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council to educate agencies about the new disciplinary procedures.
  • Federal employees get an early gift for the holidays. Most federal employees will have off this year on December 24,  Christmas Eve. President Trump made the announcement Friday in an executive order. The move is relatively rare. Presidents in recent years have opted to give federal employees a half day off when Christmas falls on a Friday, not a full day. Of course not all federal workers will have the day off. Those who are considered essential are still expected to report to work. (Federal News Network).
  • Capitol Hill is renewing calls for more timely information about cyber attacks against federal networks. Two senior senators want to update the Federal Information Security Management Act to clarify when and how agencies must report data breaches. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Federal System Incident Response Act to add more transparency and accountability to federal cybersecurity. The bill also would further the requirements for how much and what kinds of information get shared with the Office of Management and Budget and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The goal is to ensure that attacks against one agency can be compared to other agency incidents.
  • Three companies won a spot on a $496 million research and development contract from the Defense Department. The Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Engineering, and Technical Support (RETS) vehicle is a five-year small business set-aside contract that features seven functional areas including modeling and simulation, mission engineering, and data management and analysis. The three firms, American Systems Corporation, Applied Research Associates and Modern Technology Solutions will vie for task orders to bring advanced technologies and capabilities to the military much more quickly.
  • The nation’s largest veterans organization said the VA chief needs to step down. In a statement over the weekend, the national commander of the American Legion called for the resignation of secretary Robert Wilkie and several other VA officials. The legion joins several other veterans groups who made similar demands last week. An inspector general’s report found Wilkie sought to discredit a female veteran who had complained about being physically assaulted at the Washington, D.C. medical center. Wilkie refused to cooperate with the IG investigation. He’s indicated he believed the complaint was politically motivated. The veteran who was assaulted worked for a Democratic member of Congress.
  • The Navy said it has called off the search for a member of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. The family has identified the missing sailor as Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Ethan Goolsby of San Antonio, Texas. The Roosevelt went back to sea from San Diego just last week after a difficult deployment that sidelined the ship and its crew during a coronavirus outbreak. The Navy and Coast Guard searched 607 square miles of ocean before changing Goolsby’s status to “deceased.” (Federal News Network)
  • A new rule for federal contractors is drawing scrutiny from top Democrats. A final rule from the Labor Department gives federal contractors organized around faith-based activities more latitude to hire employees who share their religious beliefs. The rule goes into effect in January, but top House Democrats say the final rule makes it easier for contractors to discriminate against prospective minority, women and LGBTQ employees. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will work with the Biden administration to overturn the rule. The Labor Department says the final rule never allows discrimination on the basis of race.
  • A bill highlighting when foreign entities lease office space to agencies for high-security use is headed to the president’s desk. The Secure Federal LEASEs Act would require the General Services Administration to set up a verification system to identify property owners if agency tenants store sensitive information in their leased office space. The bill from Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) stems from a 2017 Government Accountability Office report that found foreign actors could gain access to classified operations and sensitive data in these leased facilities.

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