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Masks are optional now for fully-vaccinated employees, contractors and visitors inside federal buildings. The Office of Management and Budget issued new mask guidance to agencies following last week’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maximum telework is still in effect. The National Science Foundation said it won’t require employees to come back into the office until at least Sept. 30. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it will gradually bring employees back into the office in phases throughout the summer. (Federal News Network)
In an effort to fight COVID-19-related fraud, Attorney General Merrick Garland is setting up a task force in partnership with several other agencies. Garland said the team will use all federal tools available to prosecute those who wrongfully used pandemic relief funds. Other agencies invited include the departments of Labor, Treasury, and Homeland Security, as well as the Small Business Administration and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
Senior leaders at Customs and Border Protection could have done more to address inappropriate and offensive social media comments from employees. The Homeland Security inspector general said CBP has disjointed social media policies. Some employees didn’t take social media and harassment training seriously. The IG said CBP leadership knew about 83 cases of social media misconduct over a two-and-a-half-year period. They said they didn’t know about employees who posted offensive comments in a CBP Facebook group until reading media reports about the incident.
A former Army Green Beret was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for working with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with U.S. national defense information. Peter Debbins admitted to working with a Russian intelligence service from 1996 to 2011. He was even assigned a code name and signed a loyalty statement for them. (Department of Justice)
Lawmakers are proposing giving the National Guard $200 million to create a quick reaction force to respond to violence or threats at the Capitol building. The National Guard protected the Capitol in the months after the Jan. 6 attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The money would create a ground-based unit that would reside at Joint Base Andrews. The creation of the force was recommended in the Capitol Security Review conducted after the attack.
The Navy is taking its push for diversity to the next level after conducting a comprehensive review of inclusion issues. The Navy’s top manpower official will lead a strategic planning team and develop an action plan to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in the Navy and Marine Corps. The team will review contracting practices to identify needed improvements to supplier diversity. It will also look at selection and promotion boards, the Senior Executive Service talent pool and Navy policies. Earlier this year, the service completed its Task Force One report, which suggested 57 ways the service could better promote diversity and inclusion.
The Pentagon awarded a new IT contract for nearly $500 million to help modernize the government’s security clearance process. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency made the award to Perspecta as an other transaction agreement. It gives the company the green light to build out a prototype system it started in 2019, and uses a legal authority that lets DoD award production OTAs for successful prototypes without any further competition. By the time it’s fully deployed in 2026, DCSA will use it to manage background investigations and security clearance adjudications for the entire federal workforce.
Thirteen times in fiscal 2020 agencies spent more money then they had appropriated. The Government Accountability Office found the Agriculture Department was the biggest violator of the Antideficiency Act, overspending seven times last year. GAO also said the Energy Department violated the law twice, while the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Environmental Protection Agency each breached the law once. The total amount that all six agencies overspent last year was more than $2.4 billion.
The General Services Administration began the journey toward 100% utilization of clean, electric resources for all federal real estate by 2025. GSA launched five pilots to test out resource-efficient technologies in federal buildings. The agency and the Energy Department chose these potential energy and cost savings technologies based on feedback from a request for information released last fall. One of the pilots will use snap-on window insulation panels to improve the thermal performance of windows, while maintaining window transparency and operability. Another will test precise humidity control in buildings to improve indoor air quality management and reduce energy consumption.