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Federal employees can now get administrative leave to accompany their children to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The Office of Personnel Management says that policy now applies to employees with children ages five through 11. This comes days after the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for young children. OPM says employees can get up to four hours of paid leave for each family member they take to receive the vaccine. The Biden administration is also allowing federal employees to take administrative leave to get a booster shot.
Federal contractors have a month longer to comply with the vaccine mandate. The Biden administration pushed the deadline to January 4. That’s the same date that private sector companies with at least 100 employees have to comply with a new vaccine and testing requirement from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The White House says the new deadline gives contractors more time to comply, and some consistency across industries. The original deadline for contractors was December 8. (Federal News Network)
Agencies will soon get yet another tool for hiring recent college graduates. The Office of Personnel Management is out with a new hiring authority. It lets agencies recruit recent graduates to positions in government up to the GS-11 level. It allows them to skip the usual rating, ranking and veterans preference procedures that are part of most hiring. Agencies can also skip advertising these positions on USAJobs.gov. Candidates are eligible if they’ve graduated from an undergraduate or master’s program within two years of applying. (Federal News Network)
The Marine Corps is changing the way it recruits and retains talent. For the last 35 years, the Marine Corps has focused on having young troops who are nearly interchangeable to get a job done. All that is changing with a new policy put out by the service’s commandant this week. The Marines will undertake a multi-year plan to recruit more talented service members and retain the highly-skilled ones it already employs. The plan says the service will start trying to recruit people who already have experience the Marines need. It wants to create a talent marketplace where Marines can apply for assignments they are interested in and commanders can pick the best-suited service members.
The Defense Department is increasingly concerned about sea-level rise and its effect on military bases. Four senators are trying to give DoD the ability to carry out storm water management projects to improve the resilience of installations facing flooding issues. A new bill would make storm water management projects eligible for federal funding and support the creation of storm water ponds to bases. The bill would also support replacing paving with materials that absorb rainwater.
The Pentagon awards a multibillion dollar contract to overhaul the military’s system for moving servicemembers’ household goods. The $6.2 billion award is meant to put a single company in charge of managing the military’s moving system. Officials think the new structure will add predictability and improve management. The contract went to a joint venture called Homesafe Alliance, led by the government services firm KBR. It’s the second time U.S. Transportation Command has awarded the Global Household Goods contract. The first contract to one of Homesafe’s competitors, a year and a half ago, was overturned when a bid protest revealed pervasive procurement law violations. (Federal News Network)
DoD is overhauling its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program to make it easier on small businesses. The big changes include requiring less companies to get an outside cybersecurity assessment. Instead, most companies will be able to vouch for themselves to confirm that they’re following cybersecurity requirements. The Pentagon will also waive some requirements in limited circumstances. The Defense Department is pausing implementation of the program until the new rules go into effect. (Federal News Network)
A bipartisan group of senators is pushing new cyber incident reporting requirements. Leaders of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees teamed up to offer a 72-hour cyber incident reporting amendment to the annual defense authorization bill The measure would apply to critical infrastructure operators. They would be required to report to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency if they experience a significant cyber attack. The amendment would also require all federal civilian agencies to report to CISA in the event of a cyber attack. But the defense bill is in limbo while the Senate works out the details of infrastructure and social spending bills.
A bill maximizing the use of federal office space made its way through the Senate. The Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs Through Leasing Act made it through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It would create a pilot program that would allow agencies to sublease underutilized real estate to any public or private sector entity at fair market value. The bill allows agencies to use rent payments to help fund capital projects and facilities maintenance. The legislation would give agencies more options to deal with underutilized space across more than 130,000 federal buildings in the United States. (Federal News Network)
President Joe Biden’s pick to run the Census Bureau makes it through Senate confirmation. Robert Santos, former vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, will become the first person of color to lead the bureau on a permanent basis. Santos also served as president of the American Statistical Association. Santos says he’s open to allowing employees to telework beyond the pandemic, and is focused on improving workforce morale. (Federal News Network)
A leading House Republican is asking whether federal contractors are being effected by the nation’s supply chain problems and whether agencies are penalizing them for delays. Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-Kent.) wrote to GSA, DoD, NASA and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy asking for a briefing in the next two weeks. Comer asked three questions about the impact of supply chain delays, including how many government contractors have communicated problems because of supply chain delays and a list of all extensions or related requests for extension that have been granted or denied to contractors and any related justifications.
The Department of Veterans Affairs laid out an updated vision for how it will protect its data and systems from cyber attacks. The new cybersecurity strategy focuses less on systems and technology, and more around how employees and contractors can protect the mission. VA issued an updated cybersecurity strategy for the first time since 2016. In the document, VA outlines five broad goals such as protecting veterans’ data and leveraging cybersecurity partnerships and information sharing. Under each goal area, VA detailed more specific cyber initiatives such as encrypting data or creating systems where cybersecurity is part of the design, engineering and acquisition phases.