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The Justice Department isn’t requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees right now. But it may have more vaccine information at a later date. The department has new vaccine and legal guidance for DOJ subcomponents. DOJ said components can track which employees have received a vaccine and who declined one. But they should be careful not to collect and store too much medical or personal information. The department also said DOJ supervisors can ask employees to verify their vaccination status. But they should have a valid business reason for asking.
Top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are asking Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for a briefing on COVID-19 infections and deaths at the Postal Service. Committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Government Operations Subcommittee Chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) asked if USPS has any plans to create a public dashboard showing COVID infections. They’re also asking for a status update on implementing COVID prevention recommendations made by the agency’s inspector general. USPS Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom said well over 100 postal employees have died from COVID.
The Postal Service delivered more than one billion packages during its peak holiday season. But challenges remain. USPS made a net profit in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, but severe delays left some customers waiting weeks for mail and packages. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the agency is about to release on a 10-year strategy to improve performance. “Too many Americans were waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. This is unacceptable and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of all delays.” The USPS Board of Governors also elected Ron Bloom, a former senior Treasury Department official during the Obama administration, to serve as its next chairman. (Federal News Network)
Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian, commandant of the U.S. Army War College, has been suspended. Military.com reported the Army announced the punishment after it completed an investigation, though officials have not provided details yet about it. Maj. Gen. David Hill, deputy chief of engineers and the deputy commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, will now assume the role on an acting basis. The War College is located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and some of the military’s most famous leaders have attended the school.
The Pentagon is under pressure to eliminate sexual assaults within its military ranks. But it knows very little about how often its civilian employees are victimized. DoD’s official databases show 370 civilian employees were the victims of work-related sexual assault between 2015 and 2019. But that’s almost certainly a dramatic undercounting, according to the Government Accountability Office. That’s because DoD only tracks cases where the civilian employee was working overseas and was working directly for one of the military services. Employees of Defense agencies aren’t counted at all, no matter where the assault happened. GAO made 19 separate recommendations to help open up those blind spots. The Pentagon agreed with most of them.
New mothers in the Marine Corps will have more time before they need to jump back into fitness testing. Women now have a year before they must take a physical fitness test after having a child. That’s a three month increase from the previous policy. The Marine Corps says the change will allow for a fuller recovery, lower injury rate and eliminate the potential impact to breast milk production caused by rapid weight loss.
Joe Biden will make his first visit to the Pentagon as president today. President Biden will meet with senior civilian and military leaders today to talk about foreign and defense policy issues. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Biden will speak directly to the Defense Department workforce while visiting the building. DoD onboarded 11 new leaders earlier this week. That brings the number of appointees in the Pentagon to 57, most of which did not need Senate approval. There are about 350 of those positions in total.
The Office of Management and Budget has a new appointee in charge of federal workforce issues. President Biden tapped Pam Coleman to be OMB’s associate director for performance management. Coleman most recently served in the New Mexico governor’s cabinet as the state’s personnel director. She sat on the Department of Homeland Security’s agency review team for the Biden transition. And she worked in the Presidential Personnel Office during the Obama administration. (Federal News Network)
The IRS sticks with a familiar face as its new chief information officer. Nancy Sieger, who has held the CIO role at the IRS on an acting basis since June 2019, is finally permanent. The IRS announced Sieger’s official appointment yesterday. She replaces Gina Garza who retired in May 2019. Sieger has worked her way up the IRS IT ladder, serving as the deputy CIO for the filing season and tax reform as well as acting deputy CIO for operations and the associate CIO for applications development. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig praised Sieger’s leadership in supporting the delivery of two rounds of Economic Interest Payments and with individual tax refunds during the pandemic.
The new Veterans Affairs secretary has a message for veterans and the VA workforce. Denis McDonough said he’s looking forward to being a partner with VA employees. McDonough started his new job yesterday as VA secretary. He said VA will measure its success by the outcomes and evidence and by listening to what veterans have to say about their experiences. McDonough also said he’s committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for veterans and VA employees. And he wants his senior leadership team to reflect the diversity of the veteran population.
Andrew Mayock is coming back to the White House, but this time as the federal chief sustainability officer. Mayock served at OMB during the Obama administration as the deputy director of management. As the chief federal sustainability officer for the Council on Environmental Quality, Mayock is responsible for promoting environmental and energy sustainability across federal buildings, vehicles, and through the purchase of goods and services. Over the last two decades, CEQ said agencies have reduced building energy use per square foot by 25.6%, reduced potable water use per square foot by 27.5% and is using renewable energy to meet 8.6% of its facility electric energy needs.
Customs and Border Protection opens a big, new immigrant processing center in Donna, Texas. It’s what CBP calls soft-sided, built from a series of large tents. Donna is just a few miles down the road from the main processing center in McAllen, which is undergoing renovation. The agency said the new center will remain open to add capacity even after McCallen reopens. A video of the 160,000 square foot center shows flagstone floors, a children’s play area, showers, and a large indoor/outdoor artificial turf area.