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The Office of Management and Budget is not amused by recent claims from the Biden transition team that the agency isn’t cooperating. OMB Director Russ Vought tweeted Thursday that since Nov. 23, when GSA ascertained President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, OMB moved to allocate $9.9 million for transition activities and has had more than 45 meetings with Biden’s staff. But Vought says it’s not OMB’s job to let current employees help the transition team write budget or policy proposals. Vought says all of this in a letter addressed to transition team chief Ted Kaufman.
Civilian federal employees will see a 1% pay bump this year. President Trump made the federal pay raise official on New Years Eve with an executive order. The vast majority of civilian employees will see a 1% raise. But there are no additional locality pay adjustments this year. That means locality pay is frozen at 2020 levels for most federal employees. A pay freeze is again in place for senior political appointees and the vice president. Pay raises went into effect January 1. (Federal News Network)
Military members’ housing allowances will rise by a nationwide average of almost 3% in the New Year. But the real figure depends entirely on where you live. The stipends are based on studies of local housing costs, and this year, the biggest increase is in Twentynine Palms, California. Servicemembers at the Marine Corps’ largest base will see a boost of almost 20 percent. The Washington, D.C. area will get an almost 10% increase. Meanwhile, housing allowances in 83 of DoD’s 300 housing areas in the continental U.S. will actually decrease. Servicemembers won’t see a pay cut – those who are already living in those areas will be grandfathered in. (Federal News Network)
President Donald Trump is resubmitting a few key nominees to the Senate for confirmation in the new Congress. He resent the three nominees he tapped earlier this year to replace members on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Two of the TSP- nominees would serve on the board through fall 2022 if the Senate confirms them before Inauguration Day. The third nominee would serve on the TSP board until 2024. Trump also resubmitted the nomination for Dennis Kirk to lead the Merit Systems Protection Board. The MSPB hasn’t had a quorum in four years. Kirk would lead the board until 2023 if confirmed in the Senate.
The Postal Service is facing a new threat — smishing. The inspector general says there is an active campaign on social media to harm the Postal Service’s reputation and brand. The IG says bad actors are trying to trick mobile users into clicking on links in text messages that are connected to fraudulent sites that could steal credentials or propagate malware. USPS tells the IG it plans to begin a public smishing awareness campaign by February.
The Postal Service is at risk of becoming overly reliant on its biggest IT contractor. That’s according to the USPS inspector general. In a new audit, the IG points out the organization has been using an ID/IQ contract with Accenture since 2009, and it’s raised the ceiling value to almost $2 billion without looking closely at competitors’ pricing. The Postal Service is finally recompeting the contract, and plans to make a new award by the end of this month.
The General Services Administration gives small businesses their first look at the much-anticipated next multi-billion dollar government acquisition contract. Polaris, the new small business GWAC, could be the type of multiple award contract GSA has been promising to offer for years. In the draft solicitation, GSA outlines three pools of vendors, small business, women-owned and HUBZone firms. It also details how vendors who don’t perform could be off-ramped or will not have their option picked up if they’ve grown too big. Price and cost also will not be considered as an evaluation factor at the master contract level. The scope of work under Polaris includes everything from cloud and cybersecurity services to emerging technology like quantum and distributed ledger technologies. Comments on the draft solicitation are due by January 29.
GSA’s Office of Evaluation Sciences has new guidance on different parts of the evaluation process. Some of the resources available online include an Effect Size Guide, for planning a program or policy’s impact evaluation. There’s also a framework for conducting reviews, in keeping with the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy-Making Act. Plus there’s a how-to guide for using pre-registration in the evaluation design. These and other resources are available on the Office of Evaluation Sciences website.
Experts in the defense community have a few words of wisdom for the Biden administration on building innovation in the Defense Department. Steve Blank, a former Defense Business Board member, and Trae Stephens, a partner at Founders Fund, say the Pentagon needs to establish an innovation fund. That money would help nontraditional defense businesses get through the long defense contracting process. It would work on faster schedules and provide bridge loans so the companies could survive. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force is using a new tactic to keep young airmen engaged. The Air Force is turning to video games to keep its employees excited. Late last year the service set up a pilot program called Air Force Gaming, an intramural E-Sports competition. Members of the community compete to find the best players on each base and eventually in the whole service. The pilot program ran through December and the Air Force now plans to expand the gaming league to all of its air and space installations. More than 80% of 18 to 35 year old airmen identify as gamers.
A provider of multiple Veterans Affairs health programs will pay back millions in overpayments it received from the agency. TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp., an Arizona-based company, will pay more than $179 million to resolve claims that it received overpayments from the VA for the Patient-Centered Community Care Program and the former Veterans Choice Program. TriWest is paid to coordinate medical appointments and make payments to health care providers. The Justice Department alleges TriWest kept some duplicate VA payments for services, as well as money for services which other health care providers had already reimbursed TriWest for.