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The Marine Corps said it has fired more than 100 of its service members for refusing to get the COVID-19 shot. The move comes as about 20,000 troops in all the military services still are not fully compliant with the mandate to get vaccinated. The Army said it also handed down 2,700 reprimands for failing to obey the order. Earlier this week the Air Force discharged 27 of its troops. (Federal News Network)
Five more states are challenging the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate. Republican governors of Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Mississippi are challenging the Pentagon’s mandate for National Guard members to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The states join Oklahoma in trying to dodge the order from the Defense Department requiring the shot. The governors claim that they have jurisdiction over members of the National Guard since they are able to call them up for civilian efforts. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the DoD will respond to the letter sent by the governors. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin already reiterated to the Oklahoma governor that National Guard members must be vaccinated.
President Biden nominated Frank Calvelli as the lead for Space Force acquisitions. Calvelli is a senior leader Booz Allen Hamilton’s the national security program where he focuses on space issues. Cavelli previously served as the principal deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office focusing on satellite and ground system acquisition.
The spouses and children of Foreign Service employees will now get many of the same services the Defense Department gives to military families. The Foreign Service Families act would expand telework opportunities for Foreign Service family members, and allow them to continue to work federal civilian jobs while overseas. It would allow the State Department to make space available in its facilities for outside entities to provide career services. It would allow family members overseas to more easily terminate leases on their homes and cars before heading overseas. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Mary.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) introduced the bill, which passed as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
The State Department expects its long-awaited online passport renewal system will be available by next fall. A department official said the agency is piloting an online passport renewal system with government employees and contractors before opening it to the public. The pilot will help the agency test functionality and ensure everything operates as designed before it rolls this capability out to the public in fall 2022. President Joe Biden specifically directed the State Department to launch the online passport renewal capability that doesn’t require any physical documents to be mailed as part of the executive order on federal customer experience he signed Monday. (Federal News Network)
Three senior Republican Senators are calling on the Government Accountability Office to look into whether federal contractors are using the e-verify tool for employees. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and James Lankford (R-Okla) wrote to the Comptroller General asking whether agencies are consistently adding the requirement to use e-verify to contracts to ensure employees are citizens. The lawmakers said there hasn’t been any public-facing report reviewing compliance by contractors and any punishments for non-compliance since the E-Verify rule took effect in 2009.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it made some big strides this year. MyUSCIS accounts grew by 48% to 9 million accounts in fiscal year 2021. The agency also processed about 1.2 million applications online last year, and it added two additional forms for electronic filing. USCIS said the transition to a fully digital filing and adjudication experience continues to be a top priority. The agency also said it’s fiscal health improved this year after budget shortfalls nearly led to thousands of furloughs in 2020.
The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs outlined actions for agencies to address public health, the economy, climate change and advance equity. The Unified Regulatory Agenda and Regulatory Plan contains blueprints from agencies to deliver on the President’s Management Agenda. Examples include Transportation’s plan to minimize the number of hidden airline fees, and efforts by Labor, Treasury, and HHS to clarify insurance providers’ obligations to cover mental health services. Another regulatory agenda is expected in the spring.
Climate change is threatening the Smithsonian Institution’s millions of artifacts and dozens of facilities. The eleven museums and galleries on the National Mall alone are at risk of flooding from the nearby Tidal Basin and Potomac River, and temperature fluctuations can damage building electrical and structural integrity. Speaking to lawmakers Thursday, the Smithsonian’s facilities director and inspector general said the famed Institution, which relies on Congressional appropriations for capital projects, has a billion-dollar maintenance backlog that puts museums’ climate resiliency at risk. But a new action plan outlines responses to the climate crisis.
Bidding for a spot on the CIO-SP4 contract are open again. Contractors vying for an award under the mega IT products and services GWAC called CIO-SP4 have the chance to revise their bids. The NIH IT Acquisition Assistance Center, or NITAAC, was forced to reopen the procurement after losing a protest at the Government Accountability Office last month. NITAAC said vendors who already had submitted bids in August can revise their proposals to take into account changes made to the mentor protégé requirements that limit the number of experience examples a mentor can submit no matter the size of the business. The due date for revised bids is January 21.
A small business won a big tech refresh contract at the Defense Department. The Defense Information Systems Agency awarded Competitive Range Solutions a potential five-year, $400 million dollar award. The deal provides for technology refreshment, integration, and transition to operations activities for the DoD Information Network. Competitive Range Solutions is based out of Chicago and registered as a small business. Its proposal beat out four other offers.
Time to speak your mind on this crucial federal web site, or forever hold your peace. The General Services Administration opened the final “beta” version of its acquisition dot gov site. The site acts as a portal for federal acquisition people to look up regulations, access networks of policy-makers, and weigh in on proposed new rules. GSA said it’s looking for feedback on how it presents contents and generally navigates, adding the agency hopes the new acquisition dot gov is vastly better than the old one.
The Partnership for Public Service has a new initiative that will support 400 undergraduate and graduate students with paid internships in the federal government. Students will work at either the Commerce or Transportation Departments over the next two summers. They’ll work at their agencies for 10-12 weeks and get a four-thousand-dollar stipend. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is supporting the program financially through his philanthropic initiative. Applications are open for students through January 14. The Partnership will provide orientation and professional development opportunities for the interns.
Another round of early retirement offers for Social Security Administration employees. About 6,800 employees are eligible for the offer. SSA said so far 175 employees, or 2% of those eligible, have accepted the offers. The early retirement offers come with no cash incentives. Employees must leave the agency by the end of the year. SSA has offered early retirements to its workforce several times in recent years. The agency said it gives SSA an opportunity to restructure the workforce. (Federal News Network)