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The Biden administration wants to hire potentially thousands of new federal employees to overhaul the asylum process for immigrants arriving at the border. The plan is to allow employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to rule on asylum cases, meaning immigrants could avoid immigration courts at the Justice Department. The administration said USCIS needs at least 800 more employees to accomplish these new responsibilities. The agency could use as many as 4,600 new hires. But it will target around 2,000 new positions.
New National Cyber Director Chris Inglis said he expects his office will eventually have about 75 employees. He said that’s enough staff to work through his priorities. The office is a month old and has about two people working in it so far. The White House uncovered around $250,000 in contingency funds for Inglis to hire a few more people between now and the end of this fiscal year. The Senate-passed infrastructure bill includes $21 million for the new national cyber office as a buffer until Congress passes permanent funding for 2022.
The Veterans Health Administration could improve the way it tracks staffing data. That’s according to a report from the Office of Inspector General. The IG found that VHA’s staffing models did not include information on things like budgetary and manpower requirements, and that VHA did not plan to have these requirements in its models until fiscal 2024. Without this information, the agency might run into challenges in addressing some of its occupational shortages. The IG recommended that VHA review the number of staff required to develop these staffing models and provide a more robust timeline for completing them.
Newly sworn in Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said the service will focus on four “C’s” under his tenure. Those “C’s” include China, COVID, climate change and culture. In a message to the fleet, Del Toro said the Navy will deter Chinese aggression and vaccinate the naval force quickly. He added that climate change will be a factor in everything the Navy does in the future and that the service needs to focus its culture on diversity and respect.
The Navy is giving a first look as to what will happen to sailors and marines who resist getting the COVID vaccine. The branch will turn to counseling to deal with vaccine-reticent sailors and marines. Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham said the service will use nonjudicial punishment and legal actions as a last resort to get its troops to take the shot. Instead, Gillingham said the Navy will sit down with sailors and try to address their issues with the vaccination. The Defense Department announced earlier this month that it will mandate COVID vaccines for all active duty service members starting mid-September at the latest.
The Navy taking some big steps to roll out a modernized HR IT system. The service’s top personnel official rolled out a delivery plan this week for the first phase of the Navy Personnel and Pay system. It calls for every Navy command to designate account managers in the new system, which goes by the acronym NP2. It’s been under development for several years. It’ll eventually absorb the functions of more than 50 legacy HR systems, many of which are decades old.
Military members and advocacy groups who sued the government over the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military service formally ended their case yesterday. The legal challenge became largely moot in January, when President Joe Biden issued an executive order saying gender identity can’t serve as a bar to military service. Thursday’s filing brings a final end to complex litigation that’s dragged out for almost exactly four years.
Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange might receive service medals. Rep. Jefferson Van Drew introduced the Agent Orange Service Medal Act to honor veterans who receive compensation for being exposed to an herbicide agent during their time in Vietnam. Eligible veterans would receive the service medals upon request. Family members would also be able to request a service medal if an eligible veteran has died.
The Justice Department is worried federal inmates are using their government-run deposit accounts for illegal activity or to avoid paying debts. The Bureau of Prisons was told to overhaul the policy for “inmate trust accounts” to improve monitoring and reporting on the money inmates deposit. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said wardens at the federal government’s 122 prisons must report how much is in these accounts every month, and specifically identify inmates with balances greater than $2,500. DOJ said this will create a uniform policy across the federal prison system.
A new requirement for bidding on Medicare equipment contracts seems to be working. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ competitive bidding program this year started requiring small suppliers to get $50,000 surety bonds for bids. It’s a move to combat fraud and waste in CMS contracting, and the Government Accountability Office said not only is the program not hampering small suppliers’ chances to win awards — it’s also saving Medicare more than $600 million over a three-year period. CMS classifies “small suppliers” as those generating $3.5 million or less in total gross Medicare and non-Medicare revenue annually.