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New recommendations to the Office of Personnel Management from a federal employee-run organization are trying to close the pay gaps between men and women and among racial groups. The DoJ Gender Equality Network wrote to OPM Director Kiran Ahuja outlining three regulatory or policy changes the agency could make today to address these issues. The 1,000-person organization said OPM should issue a regulation that prohibits agencies from using an employee’s salary history to set their new salary. DoJ GEN said OPM could require agencies to conduct pay audits to identify gaps. And OPM could provide basic guidance for how to eliminate pay inequities.
Equal Employment Opportunity complaints for federal workplace medical and disability accommodations were common even before the pandemic. Supervisors often don’t check their own agency’s policies before making decisions that open the door for liability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has new guidance on things like vaccination status. The commission also highlighted examples of retaliation, discrimination and other complaints in the latest federal sector legal update this week. (Federal News Network)
A federal court has put significant boundaries around a wide-ranging lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct and financial malfeasance by the former leader of the biggest federal labor union. Wednesday’s ruling dismissed many of the claims the plaintiffs made against the American Federation of Government Employees and its former president, J. David Cox. Cox and AFGE still face some potential liability, but the court dismissed several counts in the lawsuit, and decided the claims don’t implicate the 13 other AFGE officials the plaintiffs accused of enabling Cox’s alleged wrongdoing. (Federal News Network)
Winners of this year’s Service to America Medals program won’t be revealed for a few more weeks, but two finalists have wowed the crowd. Ana Hinojosa and Eric Choy, both employees of Customs and Border Protection, received the most votes in what the Sammies program sponsor calls the people’s choice award. Choy and Hinjosa oversee enforcement against companies attempting to import Chinese goods made by forced labor. The Partnership for Public Service will release winners from among a field of 36 finalists some time in late September.
The Defense Department is preparing to require vaccinations for all active duty service members. Now other military components said they will follow suit. The Coast Guard and the National Guard said they are prepared to require service members to take the COVID-19 vaccination once the Pentagon mandates the shot. The two components combined would require about half a million more people to take the inoculation. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to make the vaccine mandatory by mid-September at the latest. To date, about 74% of active duty Coast Guard members are vaccinated. Last week, the Coast Guard said it would restrict travel for unvaccinated service members. (Federal News Network)
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command will be led by a civilian for the first time in its history. Army officials said they’ve hired Gregory Ford as the new CID director. Ford joins the Army after 16 years in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), where he last served as deputy director for operations. The change follows reform recommendations from the independent panel that investigated Army criminal justice practices after Vanessa Guillen’s murder at Fort Hood. One of the panel’s recommendations was to put a civilian leader in charge of the criminal investigative process.
Airmen will now be able to stick their hands in their pockets. The Air Force is making changes to some of its uniform policies. The service says airmen need to use their pockets to keep their hands warm, especially in areas with freezing temperatures. The new policies also get rid of a rule that prohibited airmen from walking while drinking water or talking on a cell phone. Airmen can now put morale patches on their operational camouflage uniforms as well.
The Air Force now has its own research center for quantum information science. The Air Force Research Laboratory will work with industry partners and universities to advance quantum technologies across the Air Force and Space Force. Applications will include quantum-enhanced clocks and navigation, as well as quantum communications and networks. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate will receive fiscal 2020 funds from the National Defense Authorization Act to help conduct this research.
The State Department still needs to improve its IT acquisition process, despite some progress. An audit from the Office of Inspector General revealed that the department addressed some of the recommendations the IG made in 20-16, but new issues have surfaced. More specifically, auditors found that the Bureau of Information Resource Management has not performed a benchmark assessment of its entire IT portfolio, and that the CIO did not review and approve all IT contracts. These shortfalls, the IG reported, may prevent the State Department from identifying cost-savings opportunities.
Customs and Border Protection is ahead of schedule with its cloud migration. CBP Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia said agency officials expected to have 32% of about 270 apps migrated to the cloud this year. But at this point, he says CBP has about 45% of its apps in the cloud. But he says the toughest work is yet to come. “But now it gets harder as we get into high-value assets. These are not commercial off the shelf systems that process trade, travel and other national security things of our country.” (Federal News Network)
Top Republicans on the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees asked the IRS what it’s done to track down the source of sensitive data leaks. Senators Mike Crapo and Chuck Grassley asked IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig whether leaked taxpayer information included in a recent ProPublica story was the product of an external or internal data breach at the agency. The senators said none of the agencies investigating have told Congress that a major information security incident took place. The senators have asked whether IRS met all its cyber incident reporting requirements under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.
Lawmakers pressed the White House to clarify cybersecurity roles across government. Don’t forget to save a seat at the cyber table for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. That’s the message from a bi-partisan group of House lawmakers in a new letter to Chris Inglis, the White House’s national cyber director. House Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member John Katko (R-N.Y.) and two other lawmakers asked Inglis three questions about how he will ensure there is consistency and coordination across CISA, his office and the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology in the White House. Lawmakers asked for a briefing no later than September 10.
The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to keep Native American tribal contact information in one up-to-date, easy-to find place. A new Tribal contact database would include basic contact information as well as cultural information. The database would be used for outreach and program services information. It would begin in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s southwest region and eventually expand nationwide. Public comment on the plan is open through October 12.