A new COVID-19 testing plan for federal workers

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  • Agencies have a new COVID-19 testing plan for the federal workforce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said agencies should provide diagnostic testing for unvaccinated federal employees who come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive coworker. They should consider diagnostic testing for employees who may come into contact with someone at work or outside the office. Agencies can offer tests on site or refer employees elsewhere. The CDC said the testing plan is supposed to help agencies decide what tools will work best for them.
  • The General Services Administration acquisition portal is getting a facelift in a week. A new look and feel to Beta.Sam.gov will launch April 26. GSA said it will feature a new homepage with a better user experience as well as changes to its help pages and search functionality based on feedback from users. GSA initially moved to Beta.Sam.gov in early 2020 and faced several challenges during the first few months of the transition from the old FBO.gov site.
  • A bipartisan bill in the Senate calls for greater focus on emerging technology. The National Strategy to Ensure American Leadership, or SEAL Act, would direct the Commerce Department to partner with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The academies would develop a report identifying the ten most critical emerging science and technology challenges facing the U.S. The bill’s sponsors, Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the bill would keep the US competitive in fields like artificial intelligence and 5G. (Federal News Network)
  • In the rush to stand up 5G, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is clearing more spectrum for use outside of the federal government. Now the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is asking for an update on those efforts. Members applauded a deal last summer where NTIA and the Defense Department cleared a valuable frequency band for 5G development. But the committee is also asking the Government Accountability Office to look at how NTIA could improve its spectrum management process.
  • The Pentagon’s inspector general said the Defense Logistics Agency needs to improve its processes for conducting internal investigations. A new report says DLA’s own IG office hasn’t been complying with DoD’s standards for administrative investigations. The review found problems with the agency IG’s procedures involving case management systems, confidentiality, quality assurance and whistleblower reprisal investigations.
  • The Army’s military academy is expelling at least eight of its cadets and holding back more than 50 for a year. Four cadets also resigned. The punishments were doled out after the worst cheating scandal at West Point in 40 years. The academy charged 73 cadets with cheating on a freshman calculus exam last May. A majority of those students were also athletes. Fifty-five of the cadets admitted to cheating immediately.
  • The Coast Guard may make history this year by bringing in a woman for one of its top positions. Vice Admiral Linda Fagan is nominated to serve as the next vice commandant of the Coast Guard. If confirmed she would be the first woman in the service to hold a four-star position. Fagan is currently in charge of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area where she is commander of operations from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the eastern Asian and African coasts. She also serves as commander of Defense Force West, which provides mission support to the Defense Department.
  • Agencies are under deadline to enroll their security clearance holders in a continuous vetting program. They have until the end of September to enroll their national security population in an initial set of vetting capabilities. They have until September 2022 to enroll clearance holders in a set of enhanced vetting capabilities. The deadlines are part of the federal government’s efforts to modernize the security clearance process and achieve the goals of the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative. To date, 65% of industry clearance holders are enrolled in a continuous vetting program. (Federal News Network)
  • A new office within the IRS looks to expand its investigations into those who promote tax schemes. The Office of Promoter Investigations will be led by Lois Deitrich. She takes over for Brendan O’Dell who was selected as Promoter Investigation Coordinator in early 2020. Deitrich is a 20 year veteran of the IRS, who began her career as a revenue agent in 2001.
  • The Office of Management and Budget is teeing up a new line of business for 2022 focused on hiring. The Biden administration is telling agencies to take the first steps to set up a new Hiring Assessment Line of Business. As part of the budget passback guidance, obtained by Federal News Network, OMB is requiring agencies to fund this new LOB in 2022. OMB said the hiring assessment LOB will make the process more effective by improving governmentwide actions and sharing certificates. OMB said the contributions should not come from existing HR budgets. The Office of Personnel Management and OMB will jointly manage the Hiring Assessment LOB and the program office will reside in OPM. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Nuclear Security Administration doesn’t have a clear picture of how prevalent sexual harassment is within its forces. NNSA forces reported few cases of sexual harassment in recent years. But the Government Accountability Office said cases are likely underreported. NNSA doesn’t have an anti-harassment program. It does provide training to employees and contractors on the agency’s national security forces. But training doesn’t comply with all best practices from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. GAO said NNSA may be missing an opportunity to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
  • Customs and Border Protection is telling its components to stop using the phrase “illegal aliens” in their official communications. From now on, the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs enforcement will use terms like “non-citizen” or “undocumented migrant.” Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said the change is meant to convey that undocumented people agents interact with need to be treated with dignity. (Federal News Network)

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