To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
Some federal agencies worry they’ll lose talent if they don’t sustain some of their pandemic telework and flexible workforce policies. The intelligence community is reviewing its occupations. It’s considering whether they’re truly top-secret or secret, or whether all or a portion of the work is unclassified. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency already reclassified positions as remote or in-person jobs. HR leaders say they fear they’ll lose talent to the private sector or even other federal agencies if they don’t keep as many flexibilities as possible after the pandemic. (Federal News Network)
One senator joins the push to expand paid family leave for federal employees. Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz is introducing the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act in the Senate. The bill is a companion to legislation House Democrats introduced back in January. The bill would allow federal employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a sick family member. The federal workforce already has access to paid parental leave. But this bill would allow employees to take paid leave for more purposes. (National Treasury Employees Union)
The Postal Service is getting on-time mail delivery back on track. USPS data shows the agency delivered more than 80% of first-class mail on time from mid-March through early April. It’s a step up from last year’s peak holiday period, when USPS only delivered about 60% of mail on-time in some weeks. The agency released the data as part of ongoing lawsuits challenging its ability to handle election mail.
The Army’s latest data appears to show troops’ living conditions are improving, little by little. Renters living in on-base family housing said things are at least somewhat better than they were a year ago. Every category the survey measures showed improvements. For instance, the score for how satisfied soldiers are with maintenance stood at 77.0 for the first quarter of this year – up from 72.8 in 2020. And the measurement for whether they’d live in the same home again was at 68.8 – up more than five points from the year before. The survey showed satisfaction rates are generally lowest at bases in Europe, although those locations have seen improvements too. (Federal News Network)
Active duty and enlisted airmen have until the end of May to file an application to work as pilots. The Rated Preparatory Program is accepting applications for its fall 2021 class. The class will partner and train with the Civil Air Patrol in Columbus, Indiana. Officers who complete the program are required to go into undergraduate flight training. Enlisted airmen will either go to the Air Force Academy, the Reserve Officer Training Corps or to Officer Training School.
The Biden administration nominates a government veteran for a top position in the Pentagon. Mara Karlin could be the next Defense assistant secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities. The position reviews and evaluates the capability of forces, campaign and contingency plans, and major force deployments. The position is also in charge of broader defense strategy. Karlin is currently in a top role at the Pentagon for international security affairs. She served on the policy transition team for Biden and Harris. She’s also served in various national security roles for five different defense secretaries.
The State Department names a new senior official to tackle a longstanding diversity problem. Former U.S. Ambassador to Malta Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley will serve as the State Department’s new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made elevating the job a top priority during his confirmation process. The department already had a chief diversity officer, but the new office now reports directly to the secretary of state. Abercrombie-Winstanley recently led a task force at the Truman Center for National Policy with recommendations to make the department more inclusive.
The use of Other Transaction Agreements or OTAs spiked in fiscal 2020, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and in part because of the growing popularity of this non-traditional acquisition tool. New analysis from Bloomberg Government found agencies spent more than $17.8 billion through OTAs, up from $7.9 billion the previous year. BGov says half of all OTA spending went toward COVID-19 vaccine development. The Army’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Technology and Army Materiel Command are among the biggest users of OTAs outside of COVID related needs. Additionally, BGov found agencies are awarding 57% of all OTAs through consortia, while 43% is awarded directly to prime contractors.
A new bi-partisan bill takes aim at improving agency performance through a technology modernization lens. The Performance Enhancement Reform Act would be the third major bill to attempt to get agencies to develop metrics and success factors in a new way. Unlike the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 and the updated GPRA of 2010, this legislation from Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.) has a distinct IT modernization flavor. Among the provisions in the bill, one would require performance plans to include descriptions of technology modernization investments, system upgrades, staff technology skills and expertise, stakeholder input and feedback, and other resources and strategies needed to meet the agency’s performance goals.