Pentagon testing out covering in-home child care for servicemembers

In today's Federal Newscast, the Defense Department will begin covering in-home child care costs for some military families under a new pilot program.

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  • The annual rankings of the best places to work in the federal government are out. As it has for many years, NASA topped the list of best large agencies, with an employee satisfaction score of 87%. The Intelligence Community, and the Transportation Department ranked two and three on the list. Homeland Security was at the bottom. Among medium sized agencies, the Government Accountability Office, part of Congress, ranked number one with an 89% satisfaction score, followed closely by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Among small agencies, the best place to work was also part of the Hill, the Congressional Budget Office. It had the highest satisfaction score of all, at 93%. The independent Office of Special Counsel came in second. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic mostly saw increases in their 2020 Best Place to Work in Federal Government scores. The National Institutes of Health improved six points over 2019, the Food and Drug Administration saw a 5.2 point increase, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency jumped 9.8 points. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a decline of 1.5 points. (Federal News Network)
  • Eighteen House Democrats are urging appropriators to include a 3.2% pay raise for federal employees in next year’s financial services bill. The bill currently endorses the 2.7% pay raise President Biden recommended as part of his 2022 budget proposal. But Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said agencies face a talent crisis if Congress fails to make investments in the federal workforce. The full House Appropriations Committee will mark up and likely advance the bill today.
  • President Biden’s new diversity and inclusion executive order has something for everyone. Several agencies are involved in implementing the new order. The Office of Personnel Management and the Pentagon will review whether LGBTQ employees have equitable access to federal and military health insurance. The national intelligence director will look for potential barriers inside the security clearance process for transgender and gender-non conforming employees. And the General Services Administration will ensure federal buildings meet accessibility standards for those with disabilities. (Federal News Network)
  • President Biden formally nominated Ernest Dubester as chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Dubester was a FLRA member during the Trump administration. Biden named him as temporary chairman during his first days in office. Dubester has been a member of the FLRA in some capacity since 2009. Biden also sent both Merit Systems Protection Board nominees to the Senate. The Senate must confirm at least two people to restore a quorum at the board.
  • The Defense Department will begin covering in-home child care costs for some military families under a new pilot program. DoD said the program will provide fee assistance for up to 60 hours per week of nannying and other in-home care. The amount of assistance will be determined by the service member’s total family income. The first year of the pilot will be limited to five high-demand regions, including the National Capital Region. Congress mandated the pilot program as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
  • The Pentagon is formalizing how it handles reports of military pilots encountering unidentified flying objects. Military officials tasked with analyzing UFO encounters could soon have a new place to phone home. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks is directing officials to come up with a plan for establishing a new DoD office to collect reports on unidentified aerial phenomena. A Navy task force has been leading UAP efforts since last year. Hicks also wants formal procedures for collecting, reporting and analyzing UAPs, including a directive to report any encounters up the chain within two weeks.
  • A new wing in the Air Force will focus on advancing the department’s electromagnetic warfare capabilities. The branch, called the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing, will provide maintenance and technical expertise for electronic warfare to support the combat Air Forces. The wing temporarily is located at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida while the Air Force conducts an environmental analysis for a permanent location. The Air Force expects to decide on a permanent location in spring 2022.
  • NIST offers eight steps for how agencies can protect themselves from ransomware attacks. From automatic scans of email and external devices to keeping systems fully patched to allowing access to only authorized applications, these are among the ways agencies can limit the threat of ransomware. The National Institute of Standards and Technology details these and other approaches organizations can take to be better prepared to stave off one of the fast growing cyber attack vectors. Security experts say the number of ransomware attacks across the U.S. totaled more than 2,000 last year, impacting government, healthcare and education sectors, and the average recovery cost from these incidents increased by 33% to more than $111,000 per incident.
  • The Government Accountability Office celebrates its 100th birthday on July 1. Lawmakers passed a resolution recognizing GAO’s contributions over the last century. The resolution noted that GAO helped the federal government save $77.6 billion in fiscal 2020 and $1.2 trillion over the last twenty years. GAO will host an online event on July 14, which will feature tributes from lawmakers and GAO leadership, to highlight the agency’s history and contributions.
  • A vendor on the short list to build the Postal Service’s next-generation delivery vehicle said it was unfairly disqualified from the $3 billion contract. The electric vehicle company Workhorse, in an unsealed bid protest, said it spent six years and more than $6 million designing a prototype next-gen delivery vehicle for the Postal Service. But the company said USPS took their prototype out of consideration over a safety incident that was due to a driver’s error. Workhorse said the award recipient Oshkosh Defense submitted a prototype vehicle entirely different than the one selected for production. (Federal News Network)
  • The IRS is fighting back against the dirty dozen tax scams of 2021. One way is by making its identity protection PIN available to all tax payers. The IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayer’s personally identifiable information. The IRS also limited the number of tax refunds going to financial accounts or addresses and it masked personal information from tax transcripts. The dirty dozen tax scams are broken down into four areas: pandemic-related scams; personal information cons; ruses focusing on unsuspecting victims like fake charities and senior/immigrant fraud; and schemes that persuade taxpayers into unscrupulous actions.

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