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Planning for a possible government shutdown continues. The Defense Department estimates 45% of its civilian workforce will be excepted from furlough and will work without pay if the government shuts down. That doesn’t include the 2.1 million military personnel who will also continue to work. The Social Security Administration will retain some 85% of its workforce. The Thrift Savings Plan said it will continue to provide the same services for federal employee participants. The agency that runs the TSP isn’t subject to annual appropriations.
Agencies can expect an updated set of cross-agency priority goals by February. That is the due date for the Office of Management and Budget to create the next strategy to improve federal management and program outcomes under the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. The Government Accountability Office found in a new report that over the last four years, agencies have closed 82 of 106 recommendations under the GPRA Modernization Act since 2012. GAO also brought together a focus group of former federal executives to come up with 10 key considerations to address GPRAM requirements.
The mission of the Secret Service is stressing out its workforce. The National Academy of Public Administration said its employees are doing more than ever with less. Employees are working more overtime. And the agency is still recovering from recent budget cuts due to sequestration and hiring freezes. The Secret Service asked the academy to review its employee viewpoint survey results and recent efforts to improve workforce engagement. The academy said employee engagement has plateaued since 2019. It made 48 recommendations on how the Secret Service can build on recent progress.
Screening officers at the Transportation Security Administration can now appeal a firing, demotion or suspension to the Merit Systems Protection Board. That’s thanks to a new agreement between TSA and the MSPB. Full time and part-time TSOs who have completed their probationary period can appeal certain disciplinary actions taken on or after September 26. The American Federation of Government Employees applauded the new agreement. The union said it’s still waiting on the TSA administrator to finalize another agreement that would expand collective bargaining rights to the TSOs it represents. (Federal News Network)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is improving its policies to report sexual assault and harassment. The Government Accountability Office finds NOAA workforce training stood up under the 2017 National Defense Authorization is meeting goals set by Congress. But GAO said it doesn’t describe what consequences managers could face if they failed to report cases brought to their attention. NOAA in 2020 reported nine allegations of sexual assault and 34 allegations of sexual harassment.
Key members of the Senate just released a big cybersecurity bill. New legislation in the Senate would require critical infrastructure companies to report cyber attacks to the government within 72 hours. The bill was introduced by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-Ohio). A similar bill has already passed the House. Peters and Portman are also drafting a bill that would require government agencies and contractors to report cyber incidents as well. The senators said sharing information about cyber attacks is key to preventing them from affecting other organizations. (Federal News Network)
The Pentagon wants feedback about its big supply chain initiative. In a new Federal Register notice, the Defense Department asked for comments about both vulnerabilities and potential opportunities in areas including munitions, batteries and microelectronics. Those are among the supply chains the Pentagon is most concerned about due to foreign suppliers and fragile sources. DoD plans to use the feedback it gets from industry and others as part of a report due to the White House in February.
The Coast Guard is poised to get a small budget increase in 2022. The service’s leader said it’s enough, for now. The extra $300 million that the Coast Guard might get next year would mostly go to rebuilding the service’s readiness. Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz is the first to admit that the service’s systems are old. He said the $9 billion Congress wants to give the Coast Guard for operations and support will help it build its shore infrastructure back. While the bump is a start, Schultz said he’s advocating for a 3% to 5% increase in budgets in the future years to get the military branch back into shape. (Federal News Network)
Advocates for those with eating disorders are celebrating two provisions that made it into the House version of the 2022 defense authorization bill. One part of the legislation provides training in eating disorder identification and intervention in the military. The bill also contains language that would expand the age limit for TRICARE health insurance dependents with eating disorders from 20-years-old to 64-years-old.
The Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to modernize its network. USPS is awarding a nearly $100 million task order to Lumen Technologies. The vendor said it’ll provide USPS software-defined networking and managed network services to support 900 critical IT applications. This network modernization effort will allow the agency to conduct real-time network monitoring and analytics, and will impact more than 32,000 post offices and mail processing sites across the country.
The Department of Labor has awarded Verizon five Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) task orders worth $887 million. Verizon Public Sector will work with Labor to help the agency modernize its legacy network infrastructure. The five EIS task orders will focus around data, voice, unified communications, video services and enterprise applications for DoL’s 20,000 users. Verizon said the partnership is aiming to result in a secure, converged data and voice network across nearly 1,000 locations.
The first set of agencies to win a portion of the $1 billion Technology Modernization Fund is one step closer to becoming public. The Office of Management and Budget notified Congress this week that it is ready to make the first of many awards under the Technology Modernization Fund. Clare Martorana, the federal chief information officer, gave Senate lawmakers an update on TMF yesterday. “We have just sent up to Congress for review the first seven proposals that are going to be awarded through the TMF…” Martorana said about two-thirds of the proposals are focused on cybersecurity improvements.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has banned two individuals from the agency’s whistleblower award program. SEC said the barred individuals have filed hundreds of frivolous award applications that wasted significant agency time and resources. SEC issued numerous warnings to the pair to stop submitting abusive filings before issuing the bars pursuant to 2020 amendments designed to improve the efficiency of the whistleblower program.