To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe in PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
The FBI is shining a brighter light on the mental health of law enforcement officers. The bureau launched a new database to collect information about law enforcement officers’ suicide or suicide attempts. The Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection portal helps meet the requirements of the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act signed into law in June 2020. The bill aims to help agencies better understand and prevent suicides among current and former law enforcement officers. For each suicide or attempted suicide, the FBI will collect five data points, including the circumstance or events that occurred before the suicide or attempted suicide.
Agencies are looking to save on office space costs through increased telework. The Office of Personnel Management found 13% of agencies set goals to cut real estate costs through increased telework in fiscal 2020. Those included the Justice, Labor, and Veterans Affairs departments. OPM, in its annual telework report to Congress, found agencies sought to meet this goal by letting employees telework more frequently, encouraging staff to telework, and moving away from assigned desks at the office in favor of a desk reservation model. Most agencies defined progress on this goal by shrinking the square footage of office space used.
The Postal Service reached a tentative three-year labor agreement with National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and its 132,000 members. Deputy Postmaster General, and USPS Chief Human Resources Officer Doug Tulino said the agreement met the needs of its employees, as well as its customers. The union’s members must ratify the agreement before it goes into effect, which could take several weeks. The agreement, if approved, will run through May 2024.
The Energy Department is looking for a stand-alone chief data officer to join its ranks. The CDO role is a Senior Executive Service-level position, and will report to the agency’s chief information officer. The job includes managing the agency’s data assets, oversee data-sharing efforts and ensuring data is kept in a standard format. Agency CIO Ann Dunkin is currently carrying out the duties of the agency’s CDO. The Energy Department will accept applications through Jan. 24.
The Defense Department has a new leader to ensure the responsible use of artificial intelligence. Six months after DoD laid out its principles for ethical artificial intelligence, the Pentagon named someone to ensure they are living up to those goals. The Joint AI Center named Dr. Jane Pinelis as its new new Chief of AI Assurance. The JAIC said Pinelis’ experience, knowledge and leadership proved she was the standout candidate amid fierce competition. Pinelis has worked for the JAIC for two years as its chief of test and evaluation for AI and machine learning. Before joining DoD, Pinelis worked at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and the Institute for Defense Analyses.
The Defense Department Inspector General’s Office said it will look into how the Defense Department relocated some Afghan nationals during the end of the war. DoD IG will look at how officials in Quantico, Virginia, adequately planned and provided support for Afghan evacuees. The audit team is visiting housing and medical facilities and looking into the challenges personnel faces in accommodating the evacuees.
Leaving the Army can be tricky for some soldiers after a lifetime in the military. One organization is trying to help. The Army’s official nonprofit is offering $3 million in grants to soldiers who are transitioning out of the military. The goal is to make the Career Skills Program less financially prohibitive. The program teams with corporations so soldiers can take on apprenticeships or training for civilian jobs. However, some materials, travel and other issues make the program expensive. Army Emergency Relief is providing grants or no-interest loans between $500 and $1,500 in 2022 to soldiers who are interested in the initiative. (Federal News Network)
The Pentagon Reservation is moving its health protection status to Charlie, one level higher than it’s been operating at since last fall. The heightened protection is in direct response to a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant. Organizations on the reservation must now keep occupancy under 25%. Employees must wear masks indoors and social distance. Supervisors and commanders will continue the Defense Department’s max telework policy as well. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force and Space Force will host virtual events and workshops throughout January in recognition of National Mentoring Month. The events are directed toward both mentors and mentees at the senior leader level, mid-tier ranks and junior-tier ranks. Airmen and guardians are also encouraged to use the MyVECTOR mentoring module capabilities. The first panel will be held on Jan. 12, with events occurring periodically through Jan. 27.
The Air Force is about to test a just-delivered airborne system designed to solve a problem encountered by female fighter pilots. When it comes to bladder relief on eight-hour flights, the old systems just don’t work very well — they’re essentially one size fits all. But discomfort and leaks caused pilots to dehydrate themselves before taking off. Crew equipment analyst Scott Cota said the new systems are designed to solve the biggest challenge. Not the bag, not the pump but “what we’re calling the human interface.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s risk hub is looking at a few key activities in 2022. Water system security, healthcare system resiliency, and protecting elections top the list of priorities for the National Risk Management Center this year. Bob Kolasky, assistant director for the NRMC, said the center is getting better at looking at the dependencies between key pieces of critical infrastructure. The center has been drilling down into those dependencies throughout the pandemic. Kolasky said ransomware attacks and supply chain problems show no piece of critical infrastructure can be viewed in a silo. (Federal News Network)
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is coming out with some new guidance on software development. NGA released an initial version of its “Software Way” last year. NGA Chief Information Officer Mark Andress said the agency received more than 350 pages of feedback from industry. It’s now planning to release an updated document in the next few months. The guidance describes how NGA wants to develop software, both internally and with industry partners. (Federal News Network)
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has not followed through with its hiring policies and procedures. The Office of Inspector General found in a new report that the FHFA failed to perform self-assessments of its hiring practices, and did not provide training to its human resources staff. FHFA’s monthly staffing plans also contained incomplete and inaccurate data, the IG found. These shortcomings have impeded the agency’s goals of reducing its time-to-hire period and strengthening its workforce. The IG recommends FHFA develop a tracking mechanism to report its time-to-hire performance, as well as train its HR staff. The agency plans to complete the majority of its corrective actions by September 2022.