Climate change executive order could impact federal employees’ TSP accounts

In today's Federal Newscast, a new climate change executive order could have implications for federal employees and the Thrift Savings Plan.

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  • The General Services Administration would become the landlord for more than just federal agencies if a new bill becomes law. The Leasing Every Available Real property Now, or LEARN Act, would allow GSA to lease federally owned properties for nearby local schools for in-person learning through the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) introduced the bill. The bill specifies local governments would be able to use COVID-19 relief funds to lease the buildings. The bill’s authority would end 90 days after the federal government terminates the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration.
  • By early fiscal 2022, agencies may have a new approach to buy cloud computing services. The General Services Administration is accepting a second round of comments on its planned changes to the schedules contract that would let agencies buy cloud services “by the drink.” GSA released the first draft policy in January 2020. Nick West, GSA’s deputy director of the Office of Policy, Integrity and Workforce, said the final regulation should be ready by the fall.
  • Agencies now have a way to buy products from GSA’s schedules with more confidence than ever. The General Services Administration launched its new verified products portal last week, making it the authoritative source for determining supplier authorization status. Product vendors now must provide standardized manufacturer names, part numbers and product specifications. Companies also will provide the names of its suppliers who are authorized to sell their products. GSA’s goal is to improve supply chain security by ensuring commercial-off-the-shelf products are not counterfeit or non-compliant. In preparation to launch the VPP, GSA removed more than 160,000 products that listed their country of origin incorrectly.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration is awarding nearly $4 million to projects in more than 20 states to improve public access to historical records. Nearly half of the 33 grants went to projects that’ll publish historic papers, including those of George Washington and documents tracing the history of emancipation. NARA is carrying out the grants through its National Historical Publications and Records Commission, led by Archivist of the United States David Ferriero.
  • A federal judge tossed a challenge from the Association of Administrative Law Judges over the constitutional legitimacy of the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The judge said she dismissed the case because the federal district court doesn’t have proper jurisdiction. The Association of Administrative Law Judges argued the impasses panel was operating illegally because the members weren’t confirmed by the Senate. The association represents administrative law judges at the Social Security Administration. The two parties have been locked in bitter collective bargaining disputes for years.
  • A new climate change executive order could have implications for federal employees and the Thrift Savings Plan. President Joe Biden’s order calls on the Labor Department to review fossil fuel investments and climate change financial risks in the Thrift Savings Plan. The largest federal employees union said it supports the review. Democrats in the House and Senate previously introduced legislation that calls for a similar review. The agency that administers the TSP has previously said divesting from fossil fuel companies could have a serious impact on the plan.
  • An FBI employee gets indicted by a federal grand jury for bringing home several national security documents. The Justice Department said Kendra Kingsbury of the bureau’s Kansas City Division stole classified documents from 2004 to 2017, while working as an intelligence analyst.
  • About 35% of the Air Force’s facilities are in poor or failing condition. Now the service said it’s going to start turning that around. Almost every base has a story of some part of a building being held together by duct tape, or doors that are about to fall off. The Air Force has a more than $30 billion building maintenance backlog. Starting in 2022 the service said it’s going to start investing more in its facilities. The plan is to increase the budget to 2% of the replacement cost of the buildings and then continually raise the budget by a billion dollars a year. Meanwhile, the service is going to divest from obsolete facilities and get rid of the ones that are beyond hope. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force said it is pushing its Advanced Battle Management System into the next phase. The ABMS is part of a larger military-wide program to connect weapons systems with lightning fast communications, data and decision tools. The transition will move ABMS into more operational testing and help pair it with new technologies. The Air Force has been working on ABMS for the past 18 months, and recently stood up a cross functional team to handle requirements and warfighter integration. (Federal News Network)
  • The push to overhaul the military’s prosecution of sexual assault cases just got a powerful new ally. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced yesterday he’ll support reforms that would take those prosecutorial decisions out of the military chain of command. Maybe more importantly, the Senate’s initial draft of this year’s annual defense bill will include language mandating that change. That means backers of the status quo would need to pass an amendment to block the change. That’s unlikely though: 62 senators have already signed on to legislation that would turn sexual assault cases over to a new civilian-led prosecution system. (Federal News Network)

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