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The Office of Personnel Management will reassume full control over the Chief Human Capital Officers Council. OPM transferred the administrative support and resources to the General Services Administration back in 2019. The move was part of the previous administration’s proposed OPM-GSA merger. But those resources are coming back to OPM. The agency said it wants to rebuild and elevate the CHCO Council after years of inattention and dwindling resources. A working group is reviewing the council’s charter, membership and resources. The charter hasn’t been updated since the council’s creation in 2003. (Federal News Network)
Paid leave legislation for federal employees cleared a key House committee. The bill gave federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave to recover from a serious medical condition or care for a sick family member. The House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced the bill along party lines. But committee Republicans aren’t thrilled with it. “Rather than ensuring federal agencies are meeting their missions, especially in the wake of COVID-related shutdowns… we are considering expanding another benefit for the already well-paid, well-protected federal workforce,” said Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY). (Federal News Network)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee also cleared legislation that would set new limitations on acting officials. The bill came from Rep. Katie Porter (D-Cal.). She says the bill will close loopholes in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Current law allows acting officials to serve in Senate-confirmed positions for 210 days. Porter’s bill would limit acting officials to 120 days, but give additional time if the Senate is actively considering a nominee. The bill also required the president to appoint acting officials who have at least a year of experience at their agencies. (Federal News Network)
Military service members can now get COVID-19 vaccines anywhere, instead of booking appointments through the Defense Health System. A change in the TRICARE manual waived the need for active-duty troops to get a referral to get the coronavirus vaccine from any provider. The change does not apply to troops stationed overseas.
Congress’ effort to change how crimes are prosecuted in the military is heading for a dramatic finish. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks defended the Pentagon’s proposal to only take sex crimes out of the chain of command. However, a large swath of senators and representatives want to take all nonmilitary crimes out of commanders’ jurisdiction. Hicks said DoD has not studied the repercussions of that possibility closely enough. DoD’s version of the legislation is currently in the Senate’s defense policy bill. However, the the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee has recommended a more comprehensive version, setting up an impending debate later this week. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force will soon have a new, modernized model to deliver education. The Air Force Career Development Academy is set to undergo a months-long project that will update the service’s curriculum to include interactive instruction, performance-based assessments and realistic scenarios. This new electronic curriculum will replace the service’s current textbook-style delivery, so that courses can get updated in real-time. The career development academy will work with career fields such as logistics readiness and civil engineering to ensure a hands-on education.
Senators confirmed Chris Inglis to serve as the White House’s first national cyber director. Now they’re introducing legislation to help him staff up his office. Top members of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committees introduced a bill that would authorize non-reimbursable detailees to work for the Office of the National Cyber Director. Senators said the bill would help Inglis in his mission to coordinate national cybersecurity policy across multiple agencies. A House Appropriations subcommittee recently approved giving Inglis’ office a $15 million budget in fiscal 20-22.
Lawmakers wanted to set up a federal hub for helping small businesses with cybersecurity threats. Members of the Small Business Committee introduced legislation that would create a central cybersecurity assistance unit within the Small Business Administration. It would also set up corresponding cyber assistance units at SBA’s regional development centers. Lawmakers say small businesses need better resources to confront a rising tide of cyber attacks. The units would share cyber threat information and strategies for countering attacks. The bill would also expands liability protections to participating small businesses. The Small Business Committee is expected to mark up the bill next week.
A bill in Congress would set up a cybersecurity office within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) introduced the NTIA Policy and Cybersecurity Coordination Act, which would establish an Office of Policy Development and Cybersecurity to oversee the security of the country’s communication networks. The office would provide policy analysis on cybersecurity and innovation for the internet, mass media and other digital services. The legislation formed in response to recent cyber incidents.
Environmental justice is now an important consideration for federal agencies. The White House issued interim guidance yesterday directing agencies to develop plans for meeting the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative. The effort aimed to ensure at least 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy go to disadvantaged communities. The White House also identified 21 priority programs, such as a flood mitigation assistance program, to immediately begin pursuing the Justice40 goals.
The Homeland Security Department’s FirstSource 3 procurement is no longer under protest. The Government Accountability Office dismissed complaints by KPaul and z Soft Tech Solutions earlier this month. GAO decided the protests were premature. Both small businesses filed protests with GAO saying the FirstSource 3 solicitation was “unduly restrictive” and creates an unnecessary limitation of competition. DHS issued the solicitation for this IT hardware and services vehicle that has a $10 billion ceiling in April.
The proposal deadline for the CIO-SP4 governmentwide acquisition contract was pushed back, again. Contractors now have until August 3 to submit their bids to win a spot on the $50 billion CIO-SP4 GWAC. NITAAC issued its seventh amendment on July 19 pushing back the proposal submission date by 10 days and making a host of other changes. NITAAC said large business subcontractors will no longer be counted for purposes of self-scoring or evaluation. NITAAC also added new limits on large business teams by no longer allowing them to claim certain capabilities of their subcontractors like having an Earned Value Management System or an ISO Certification.
The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, saw a 50% increase in agencies’ reuse of authorized cloud products last year. Acting FedRAMP director Brian Conrad said demand for cloud products also increased 60% in the first half of fiscal 2021, compared to the same period last year. To keep up with demand, the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released the first version of a machine-readable language called OSCAL, to help automate the security review of cloud products seeking FedRAMP certification. Conrad said the FedRAMP program management office is developing tools to increase adoption of OSCAL.
The Postal Service’s regulator didn’t see much benefit to slowing down first-class mail. The Postal Regulatory Commission said USPS plans to slow down nearly 40% of first-class wouldn’t result in *much improvement, if any* to its current financial condition or result in the agency reaching its on-time delivery goals. The commission said USPS is facing higher costs to handle a surge in packages that would actually eliminate any cost savings from implementing this new service standard. Despite the commission’s concerns, its advisory opinion isn’t binding, and USPS is free to implement the service standards.