Union files grievance against EPA administrator over recap of negotiations

In today's Federal Newscast, A union representing EPA employees has filed an unfair labor practice charge, saying Administrator Andrew Wheeler is lying about it...

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  • A union representing EPA employees has filed an unfair labor practice charge, saying Administrator Andrew Wheeler is lying about its negotiations with it. AFGE Council 238 says Wheeler sent an email to employees giving an update about the bargaining going on between the agency and itself, in which he falsely states that AFGE declined additional workplace flexibilities in favor of issues more important to union leadership than to their members. Council 238 represents nearly 10,000 EPA employees.
  • The Pentagon says it offered assistance that could have prevented this week’s overrun of the Capitol, but that the Capitol Police turned it down. Ken Rapuano, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense says the latest offer of military support was on Sunday, but that the Capitol Police repeatedly said they wouldn’t need DoD’s help. Sources told the Associated Press the Justice Department made similar offers for FBI support, but the Capitol Police rejected those too. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy says DoD did relatively little to pre-position National Guard resources to respond to Wednesday’s Capitol riot, because that sort of support has to be specifically requested by local authorities. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Management and Budget is reminding agencies to consider the risk to government and contractors when deciding on the type of contract to use for a program. In a new memo from Director Russ Vought, OMB tells agencies to document their contract-type decisions in their business cases, especially if they are considering cost-type contracts, which are considered most risky. OMB also will review the best way to encourage agencies using cost-type contracts to evolve them into fixed price efforts over time.
  • New cyber bureau arrives just in time for the Biden administration. The State Department got the go-ahead to officially stand up the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the order for the new organization yesterday. State says C-SET will lead the government’s diplomatic and international cyberspace security and emerging technology policy issues. The focus will be on foreign policy and national security challenges, including securing cyberspace and critical technologies, reducing the likelihood of cyber conflict and strategic cyber competition.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission signed off on major changes to official time policies for federal employees. The EEOC approved a final rule that will strip union representatives from using official time to work on EEO complaints. Unions, members of Congress and some former EEOC employees sent thousands of comments expressing their opposition to the new policy. But the commission approved it along party-lines. Two commissioners say EEOC shouldn’t have OK’d major policy changes two weeks before the upcoming change in administration.
  • Agencies are offering more details on how federal employees will repay last year’s mandatory payroll tax deferral. The military’s largest payroll provider says employees and servicemembers will pay the 2020 deferred taxes in 24 equal installments through December. Other payroll providers offered similar timelines. Federal employees who retire this year are still expected to repay whatever balance is left once they leave government. Agencies say they’ll send debt letters to employees who separate and still have a remaining balance. (Federal News Network)
  • A second round of pandemic stimulus payments is arriving via snail mail for millions of Americans. The Treasury Department and the IRS this week has begun sending out 8 million Economic Impact Payments via prepaid debit cards. Millions of payments have already gone out through direct deposit and paper checks. Both agencies note that taxpayers may receive this payment in a different format than what they might have received in the first round of stimulus. The Bureau of Fiscal Service handles the disbursement of these payments.
  • After taking a year off to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Health Agency will continue assuming responsibilities for military treatment facilities. The military services were supposed to transfer their hospitals and clinics to DHA by 2022. However, the latest Defense Authorization Act extends that period to 2025. That’s because the military services are having second thoughts about DHA’s ability to manage the treatment facilities.
  • The Space Force will set up a National Space Intelligence Center within the next year, according to an Air Force intelligence official. The center will be an integral part of the Space Force becoming the 18th member of the intelligence community. The new service says it needs more capabilities outside the atmosphere to make decisions in space. The service’s intelligence wing will provide that picture. Two space squadrons will move from the Air Force to the Space Force to staff the new center. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Health and Human Services named Oki Mek as its Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. Mek previously served as a senior adviser to the HHS chief information officer, and as the agency’s chief technology officer. Mek contributed to the agency standing up HHS Accelerate, the first federal blockchain use case to receive an authority to operate using live agency data.

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