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More than 2,400 FEMA employees are in place to help out citizens in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and other states that are in the path of Hurricane Ida. In preparation for the Stage 4 storm recovery, FEMA has staged more than 2.5 million meals, 3.1 million liters of water, 76,000 tarps and 64 generators. Additionally, the agency’s Mobile Emergency Response Support assets include deploying Emergency Operations Vehicles to support Louisiana and Mississippi. Along with FEMA, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Power Restoration team and its planning and response teams for debris, temporary roofing, infrastructure assessment, temporary housing and temporary power also is in place to help with recovery operations.
The Army is adding fresh help in the battle against California wild fires. Some 200 active duty soldiers will help out in Northern California, with operational command coming from Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component. The soldiers will arrive at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center. They’ll help with efforts to quell the Dixie fire, which encompasses two national parks and a national forest. The soldiers will receive their gear and start training today. The Air Force has provided eight C-130 airplanes fitted with fire suppression systems.
The military services would establish special victims prosecutors for sexual crimes under a House version of the annual defense bill. The House Armed Services Committee’s “chairman’s mark” would reform the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address sexual assaults in the military. The bill would also reallocate most of the $3.3 billion that was originally earmarked for the Afghan Security Forces Fund. The committee will mark up the bill this week, with a flurry of amendments and lengthy debate expected during the meeting. (Federal News Network)
It’s official — President Joe Biden intends to give federal employees an average 2.7% pay raise next year. The president’s pay plan includes a 2.2% across-the-board increase and an additional 0.5% in locality adjustments. Federal employee unions said they’re glad to see the White House grant pay parity between civilian employees and the military. The National Treasury Employees Union said it’s advocating for a 3.2% raise for federal workers next year. (Federal News Network)
Eighty-nine percent of participants said they’re happy with the Thrift Savings Plan. That’s a little better than last year’s satisfaction rate on the TSP’s annual participant survey. More military members in the blended retirement system said they’re pleased with the TSP this year. Eighty-eight percent said they’re happy with the plan, compared with 77% last year. Participants still want to see more flexibility with the TSP’s withdrawal options. Ninety percent said they want the option to choose which investment funds to withdraw or take a loan from. (Federal News Network)
The union for passport services employees presses State Department for more leave flexibility amid COVID-19 outbreaks. The National Federation of Federal Employees Local 1998 says the Delta variant of COVID-19 is leading to outbreaks at passport agencies in San Diego and Miami, as well as a printing center in Arkansas. The union said passport agencies are forcing staff to work mandatory overtime to chip away at a backlog of passport applications. Amid these outbreaks, the union seeks more flexibility in approving COVID administrative leave, or weather and safety leave. (Federal News Network)
Despite regulatory prohibitions and vendor dislike, agencies are still using lowest-price, technically acceptable, or LPTA, for tens of billions of dollars of procurements. Bloomberg Government analyzed federal acquisition data since June 2020 and found agencies used LPTA for $34 billion in contracts over the last 14 months. BGov said the Defense Department accounts for just over half of those LPTA awards. Agencies are using this approach mostly for construction, technology and clothing, textiles and subsistence buys, BGov found. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council issued a final rule in February further restricting the use of LPTA.
Industry will soon get a shot to offer feedback on new cyber requirements gaining momentum in both chambers of Congress. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would set up a program requiring critical infrastructure companies to report cyber attacks under a new bill being considered by the House Homeland Security Committee. A similar measure has already been introduced in the Senate. Industry groups are already pushing back on some elements of the Senate legislation, though, including the 24-hour window for reporting incidents. The House committee has scheduled a hearing this week to get feedback on its bill, including from officials representing IT and telecommunications associations.
The Justice Department is creating a three-year cyber fellowship program for attorneys looking to join the federal workforce. Fellows will rotate through DOJ offices and will get hands-on experience investigating state-sponsored cyber threats, ransomware attacks, and other cyber criminal activity. Once done with the fellowship, fellows can be converted to permanent positions at DOJ without further competition. Fellows selected for the program must be able to secure a top secret security clearance, and must apply by Sept. 8.
The second memo of the month implementing the cyber executive order dropped on Friday. The Office of Management and Budget is giving agencies 60 days to assess how well they log cybersecurity incident data against a new maturity model released Friday. As part of that review, agencies must also identify gaps, develop plans to mitigate those problems and submit cost estimates to OMB. OMB’s acting director Shalanda Young detailed these new requirements in a memo to federal leaders. The guidance outlined four maturity levels starting with event logging 0 or EL0 as least mature to EL3 as having a mature program that agencies should assess themselves against. After the 60-day review, agencies then have 18 months to reach EL2 and 24 months to reach EL3. (Federal News Network)
Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base in Ohio will be the location of the Air Force’s new Cyber Warfare Mission. It was between that location and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport in Minnesota. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said several factors went into the decision, including manpower, recruiting, and retention; building capacity and connectivity; environmental; construction costs, and cost of living.