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If you are a federal employee in the D.C. area and you were not already planning to telework, there is a good chance you are staying home today. The Office of Personnel Management said all federal agencies in the National Capital Region are closed because of winter weather. Emergency employees are still expected to report to work. Teleworkers too. (Federal News Network)
For U.S. Cyber Command, the New Year means more authority over its own budget. This year’s defense authorization bill gave the command direct control of funding for the teams that make up the cyber mission force. Until now, those responsibilities have fallen to the military services. The changes took effect on January 1. Starting in fiscal year 2024, the command will also be responsible for submitting its own budget proposal for the cyber mission force. (2022 NDAA, section 1507)
The next time D.C. law enforcement officials need urgent help from the National Guard, the “okay” will have to come directly from the Secretary of Defense. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is updating a more than 60-year-old policy that previously delegated approval for those deployments to the Secretary of the Army. Now, the Defense Secretary will need to sign-off any time the Guard is asked to respond to D.C. in 48 hours or less, or whenever it is asked to participate in civilian law enforcement. (Federal News Network)
The Navy needs to flush jet fuel that leaked into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water system back in November. The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility leaked about 14,000 of jet fuel into the Navy’s water distribution system, which serves about 93,000 people. The clean-up displaces 4,000 military families, some of whom became ill after using the contaminated water. The leaked fuel is used for military planes and ships in the Pacific, and flushing it out of the water system is expected to last through January. (AP-Federal News Network)
Its employee union president calls on the Smithsonian to close all the museums. The president of AFGE Local 2463 said the closure of five museums is driving more people to the ones still open. Reginald Booth said that is causing rising numbers of COVID cases, especially in security guards, who have the most contact with the public. Booth said the National Zoo is particularly low on both guards and police, who augment them. He said his pleas are ignored by Smithsonian management.
Sad news from the federal acquisition community. Kevin Boshears, the long-time federal agency small business advocate, passed away on December 22. Boshears, 62, worked for the federal government for 35 years, including serving as the Homeland Security Department’s director of the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization from 2003 until he retired in 2018. He also served as the Treasury Department’s small business director before going to DHS. Boshears is survived by his wife of 32 years, Elizabeth, and their three kids and two grandkids. The Boshears ask for donations to be made to the American Cancer Society in Kevin’s memory.
As more parents send their kids back to day care after shifts in the pandemic, the Energy Department Inspector General reminds agency child care providers to make sure they are following all the necessary regulations. That includes the Crime Control Act of 1990, which lays out background checks and training requirements. The Energy Department offers child care to various employees, facility users and long-term onsite subcontractors. An audit of child care centers in several states from 2018-2020 revealed some centers were not managed properly by contractors, due to confusion over regulations. The IG said all the reviewed centers agree to its recommendations.
The federal improper payment rate grew by 1.6% in 2021, reaching more than $281 billion. The governmentwide rate of improper payments, which includes overpayments and under payments, was 7.2% last year. The Office of Management and Budget said the increase can be mostly attributed to the growth in the improper payment rate in the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance program. The UI program saw its improper payment rate reach 18.71%, which is roughly five to eight percentage points higher than normal due to the pandemic.
The Biden administration reinforces the Trump administration’s interpretation of a rule regarding high-level radioactive waste. The rule bases the high-level rating on how radioactive the waste is, rather than how the waste was produced. This affects storage of radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production at sites in Idaho, Washington state and South Carolina. The administration said the interpretation is backed up by the most available scientific data and recent law, and it allows the Energy Department to focus on other high-priority cleanup projects, reduce how long radioactive waste is stored, and increase safety. (AP- Federal News Network)
Women in the Air Force who are pregnant may now have more uniform options. The Air Force initiative “Sword Athena” is expanding sizing and inventory options for women in uniform who are expecting a child. Often times airmen were unable to find the correct sizing or needed to move through multiple sizes during their pregnancy. The service is working with the Army and the military exchanges to ensure each base has at least one uniform in each size to try on. The Air Force is also expanding its sizing chart online to make it more helpful. (Federal News Network)
The Justice Department got a guilty plea from one of the biggest military housing contractors for defrauding the government. However, military housing proponents said there is still plenty of work to be done. Sarah Kline, co-founder of the Armed Forces Housing Advocates, said tenants are still struggling with mold, mice and other problems in their homes. Kline said the Defense Department’s new dispute resolution process is also flawed. (Federal News Network)