House Democrats lay out plans for Social Security after COVID

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  • House Democrats have an idea of what the Social Security Administration should look like whenever the pandemic ends. Appropriators say they expect SSA to provide in-person service at agency field offices and maintain telework for positions where it makes sense. They’re asking SSA to report on its telework policies and detail where remote work has been reduced since 2019. Former SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul reduced telework opportunities for some employees that year before temporarily restoring them during the pandemic. SSA field offices have been close to public since last March except for dire-need appointments.
  • House lawmakers introduce a bill that would block the sale of federal properties if doing so would prevent indigenous tribes from accessing government services. The ARCHIVES Act would prevent agencies from selling or disposing of property in cases where it would harm a tribe’s access to archives and records held by the federal government. The bill comes after the Office of Management and Budget walked back plans to sell the Federal Archives and Records Center in Seattle, following a lawsuit from tribes in the area. The facility was one of 12 high-value federal properties the Public Buildings Reform Board recommended for sale.
  • The IRS is seeking industry feedback on its plan to retrain its workforce for in-demand skills. Under the 2019 Taxpayer First Act, the agency is standing up an IRS University, focused on teaching employees about taxpayer service, tax administration, IT and operations management, and leadership development. The IRS will hold separate industry days for education and technology vendors that already have federal contracting experience, and vendors who are new to the federal marketplace. The agency will also hold a session for colleges and universities. (Federal News Network)
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is growing state of the art technology to improve how it models the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters. The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center is bringing new predictive analytics-powered tools, and the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence to improve its climate modeling and natural disaster resilience planning efforts. ERDC signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or CRADA with Microsoft to run these tools in the Azure cloud. Through the CRADA, ERDC and Microsoft will put the coastal storm modeling system, called CSTORM-MS, in Azure and simulate Atlantic Coast sea level rise.
  • The National Guard is preparing to stop some operations in order to make up for a budget shortfall. The National Guard will start canceling drills, cut back on flying hours and furlough civilians if it does not receive needed funding by the end of the month. The budget shortfall stems from an emergency mission to protect the Capitol after it was attacked by Trump supporters. The Guard is down about $521 million because of that mission. There have been a handful of attempts in Congress to reimburse the Guard, but it is unlikely they will make it into law by the August recess. (Federal News Network)
  • Members of Congress are concerned that the Space Force might not be doing what it was intended. Part of the rationale behind the new military branch was to centralize space acquisition. However, members of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee recently wrote that they are not seeing the aggressive action to better procurement that they hoped. The subcommittee is urging the Air Force to fill a new space procurement position as quickly as possible to help with the process. (Federal News Network)
  • The Biden administration has picked one of the most respected analysts in the DoD acquisition community to serve as to the Air Force’s top procurement official. Andrew Hunter will be the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics if the Senate confirms him. Hunter currently works as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Before that, he was chief of staff to Frank Kendall, the administration’s nominee for Air Force secretary. (Federal News Network)
  • President Joe Biden is bringing back a 28 year veteran of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to lead the organization. Biden plans to nominate Laura Locascio to be the undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and the director of NIST. Locascio worked at NIST starting in 1993 and rose to be the director of the Material Measurement Laboratory. She has been the vice president of research at the University of Maryland since 2017 where she has overseen $1.1 billion in external research funding that focuses on technology commercialization, innovation and economic development efforts.
  • Senior executives want Senate committee leaders to confirm the president’s nominees to the Merit Systems Protection Board as soon as possible. The MSPB hasn’t had a quorum for over four years. The Senior Executives Association said employees and agencies wait longer for justice every day the MSPB is nonfunctional. The board has over 3,300 appeals waiting action today. President Biden nominated Cathy Harris and Raymond Limon to fill two board positions. SEA said both Harris and Limon are qualified and well-respected in the federal community.

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