Federal Service Impasses Panel back in action

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  • More details about the vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors: The vaccination requirement applies to all executive branch employees, including those teleworking. It also applies to prospective federal employees joining government service. The Biden administration said agencies must now ask employees to show proof of vaccination. Employees who refuse to comply with the vaccine mandate by Nov. 22 will be subject to discipline, up to and including removal. Agencies pursuing disciplinary action against employees shouldn’t place them under administrative leave. (Federal News Network)
  • President Joe Biden said he will nominate Krista Boyd as the Office of Personnel Management’s permanent inspector general. Boyd is the chief oversight and policy counsel for the House Oversight and Reform Committee. She helped spearhead the creation of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. And she helped negotiate the details of the 2016 Inspectors General Empowerment Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. OPM hasn’t had a permanent IG in over five years. The two entities have butted heads in recent years over the agency’s pandemic response and the previous administration’s proposed merger with the General Services Administration.
  • The Food and Drug Administration completed its two-year reorganization effort to create its new Office of Digital Transformation. FDA also named Vid Desai as its new chief information officer to lead the office. Desai has been acting CIO since April and chief technology officer since 2019. The Digital Transformation Office brings together the IT, data management and cybersecurity functions from across the FDA and reports directly to the FDA commissioner, elevating the office and its functions to agency-level.
  • Non-career employees at the Postal Service have injury rates that are up to 22% higher than the agency’s career workforce. That’s according to the Government Accountability Office, which also found average worker compensation costs were higher for non-career postal employees. GAO found USPS saved more than $6 billion from 2016 to 2018 by increasing its use of non-career employees. Non-career employees receive lower pay and fewer benefits, but also have a higher rate of turnover. USPS employees accounted for more than half of Federal Employees’ Compensation Act cases in 2019, even though they only make up 22% of the total federal civilian workforce.
  • The Postal Service is looking to negotiate with its unions over COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements from the Biden administration. USPS said upcoming vaccination and testing requirements are subject to mandatory union negotiations. The agency said it’s working closely with union leadership ahead of an emergency rule coming from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That rule will require all employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week. The American Postal Workers Union is already in negotiations with the agency over a contract that expires next Monday. (Federal News Network)
  • The Federal Service Impasses Panel is back to work with all new members. Federal Labor Relations Authority Chairman Ernest DuBester swore in all 10 people the Biden administration named recently to serve on the panel. The panel is an independent entity within the FLRA. The members serve on a part-time basis and don’t require Senate confirmation. The panel resolves collective bargaining disputes between agencies and their unions.
  • The Pentagon is repopulating one of its key advisory boards after a months-long stand down. Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James will be the next chairwoman of the Defense Business Board. The Pentagon also named 16 other new members for the advisory panel, including retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel. The board will additionally have its first ever member representing a union in Cheryl Eliano, a national vice president for the American Federation of Government Employees.
  • The president made a choice to lead the Defense Department’s vast information technology enterprise. The White House said the president intends to nominate John Sherman to be DoD’s chief information officer. He’s been serving as acting CIO since the start of the administration. He was the intelligence community’s CIO prior to joining DoD in 2020. Sherman will need to step aside from that acting role while the Senate considers his nomination as permanent CIO. In the meantime, the Pentagon said Kelly Fletcher, the office’s principal director for resources and analysis, will take the acting CIO position.
  • The Defense Innovation Unit’s new office focusing on hardware awarded $15 million in the last nine months to innovative companies. The National Security Innovation Capital is investing in businesses that develop rocket engine designs for hypersonics and safely store hydrogen for transport. The office is now trying to renew its funds for the next budget cycle. NSIC hopes to garner $75 million from Congress for future investments. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon’s program for auditing contractor cybersecurity is getting more attention in Congress. House lawmakers are pushing for a report on how small businesses are impacted by the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. An amendment to the defense authorization bill would require the report within 120 days of enactment. Lawmakers and industry groups have been raising concerns about how much it will cost small businesses to get certified under the CMMC regime. The amendment was submitted by Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips and Texas Republican Beth Van Duyne, both of whom are members of the Small Business Committee. The House is expected to debate the defense bill next week.
  • The Space Force is taking another step in growing up as a military branch. After five months of testing, Space Force guardians are being issued their own common access cards. To produce a Space Force card, system and data owners across multiple agencies had to come together and make critical changes to make the branch a digitally unique service. The Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations for human capital called it a herculean effort that was more complex than expected. There is a three-step processes guardians can now take to get their CACs. The service hopes to have all the cards issued by the end of the year.
  • GSA is about ready to launch the next phase of buying cloud services. First there was a special item number on the schedules. Then there was the select governmentwide blanket purchase agreements like the Pentagon’s DEOS. Now, GSA is preparing to launch a cloud marketplace that would bring together cloud service providers, integrators and other vendors to create a one-stop shop for all things cloud. Laura Stanton is the assistant commissioner in GSA’s IT Category. “The first phase of that is going to be coming in fiscal 2022. We are getting ready to release a request for information on that to understand more from industry.” Stanton said the RFI should be out in the next month or so.

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