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Potential sailors have some new incentives to join the Navy. The service announced it is increasing its enlistment bonus to $50,000 for some positions. The Navy said it’s increasing the bonuses because of the strong civilian labor market and more employment options for people who are eligible to serve. The Army also recently increased its bonuses to $50,000 for some positions.
A Navy commander pled guilty to bribery charges in federal court yesterday. Cmdr. Stephen Shedd is the third naval officer to admit blame in the so-called “Fat Leonard” scandal. Prosecutors said Leonard Francis bribed Shedd and others to turn over classified details on Navy ship movements in the southwest Pacific to get an edge on competitors for his ship husbanding business. A criminal trial for six other Navy officials is set to start next month. Prosecutors have charged 34 people in all. (Federal News Network)
The White House is strengthening military laws dealing with sex crimes. President Joe Biden signed an executive order making sexual harassment in the military a punishable offense. The order also strengthens laws for service members who share or post nude pictures without someone’s consent. The order is bolstered by the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which legally changes the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include sexual harassment as a punishable charge. According to the Defense Department’s latest numbers from 2018, more than 119,000 service members said they were harassed over a 12-month period. (Federal News Network)
A group of federal prosecutors is urging the Justice Department to fix a disparity in pay. National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys says the Administratively Determined (AD) pay plan that assistant U.S. attorneys fall under puts them at a disadvantage compared to the General Schedule pay scale for most other DOJ attorneys. The association’s vice president Adam Hanna says DOJ needs to address the pay gap within the agency, in order to attract and retain in-demand talent.
The Justice Department is answering the call of policy makers, public safety experts and others for better, more actionable data on crime, incarceration, community supervision and other related topics. The Office of Justice Programs launched the Justice Counts portal yesterday with a goal of collecting and presenting data in a more standardized way. DOJ said Justice Counts will deliver a set of criminal justice metrics as well as aggregation tools to help state and local leaders make better, faster decisions without requiring costly upgrades to their own technology systems.
Data on federal IT spending is about to easier to use. As part of the Biden administration’s 2023 budget request to Congress coming in the next month or so, the General Services Administration is relaunching the federal IT dashboard. Originally developed in 2009, the federal IT dashboard aimed to bring transparency to over $100 billion in federal spending. GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy has spent the last year developing a new platform that uses application programming interfaces or APIs and better data visualization tools. GSA hopes the new dashboard makes it easier for agencies to submit spending data, and simpler for the public to understand where money is being spent.
A new Senate bill would lift a limitation on how the Department of Homeland Security spends disaster relief dollars. It would repeal a provision in law that prohibits subcontracts from making up more than 65% of the cost of certain response and recovery contracts. The limit for most other federal contracts is 70%. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the bill. Peters said the different subcontracting requirements cause confusion and hamper disaster response efforts.
A bipartisan group of 17 senators is asking the Social Security Administration for an update on efforts to improve field office services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators are asking SSA to detail how it’s assisting individuals who need in-person services, and provide details on how it plans to improve its level of service to the public. A recent inspector general report found nearly half of the 151 million calls to SSA field office and its national 800-number last year went unanswered. SSA also reached an agreement with its three unions for employees to return to the office as soon as March 30.
The White House finalizes its zero trust security strategy. The new zero trust strategy pushes agencies to adopt stronger enterprise identity and access controls, including multi-factor authentication. Agencies have 60 days to submit an implementation plan to the Office of Management and Budget. OMB said agencies will have to fund their zero trust architectures through existing budget plans over the next two years, or through an alternative source like the Technology Modernization Fund. The goal is to have zero trust in place across the federal enterprise by the end of fiscal year 2024. (Federal News Network)
The Government Publishing Office is appointing a task force to study whether it’s necessary or feasible for the agency to make federal government publications available to the public in an all-digital format. GPO finds 97% of federal publications are already digital-first, but is looking for recommendations on how an all-digital systems should function. The task force includes members from agencies and library associations, and will deliver a final report to GPO by the end of the year.