New group in Congress to look out for the nation’s fighter pilots

In today's Federal Newscast, a group of lawmakers are banding together to create a new caucus focused on the fighter pilot community.

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  • The Biden administration wants to give federal employees their largest pay raise in 15 years. In its fiscal 2023 budget request, the White House will propose a 4.6% pay increase for federal employees. Federal News Network has exclusively learned the Office of Management and Budget told agencies in its annual “passback” guidance to plan for the increase. It included more funding to account for the additional salaries and expenses. The White House didn’t breakdown the raise in terms of locality versus across-the-board increases. The White House is expected to send the budget request to Congress after the State of the Union, which is on March 1. (Federal News Network)
  • President Joe Biden is requiring all contractors and subcontractors on large-scale federal building projects to be part of a project labor agreement. Biden signed an executive order setting this requirement for projects that cost more than $35 million. Agencies will be required to publish data on a single website that shows compliance with the project labor agreement requirement and exemptions. The executive order allows agencies to grant an exemption under a limited set of circumstances, which includes specialized construction work.
  • Agencies using the General Services Administration’s Advantage portal now have more information about when products are out of stock. Any vendor using the Verified Products Portal that experiences a disruption in their supply chain can give status updates such as “limited stock,” “out of stock,” “end of life” or “discontinued.” GSA says 5,000 products on the Advantage portal will be able to provide this supply chain information. GSA also says this information reflects manufacturer or wholesaler stock status and should not be misconstrued as stock information for individual contractors.
  • U.S. intelligence raises a red flag about foreign powers exploiting Americans’ health data. The warning comes from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. It specifically calls out China, saying Chinese companies are required to share data with the government. The center recommends organizations closely check privacy and data security policies before partnering with diagnostic testing and services companies.
  • Agencies get some new guidance for buying software. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends agencies require a security attestation for the software they buy. NIST’s new software supply chain security guidance is yet another product of the cybersecurity executive order. It recommends acquisition professionals require at least a self attestation from companies that they followed secure software development practices. The new guidance is not yet mandatory, but it’s expected to form the basis of future contract requirements.
  • Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has come to terms with the Pentagon about his forthcoming book. The department’s prepublication review team demanded redactions from dozens of pages, saying they contained sensitive or classified information. In a statement, Esper’s lawyer says DoD withdrew almost all of those demands after he sued in federal court. Attorney Mark Zaid says the reversal is a sign that DoD’s prepublication review process is flawed in the first place. (Federal News Network)
  • The way the military is classifying traumatic brain injuries is hurting troops. A group of medical experts say using the terms mild, moderate and severe to categorize brain injuries is leading to preventable deaths in the military. The doctors are advocating for a more personalized approach to brain injuries. The report suggests using a scale of one to 15 to rate the severity of the injuries. The Defense Department funded report also says that the current approach is costing more money in medical costs. More than 400,000 service members have been diagnosed with brain injuries since the year 2000.
  • A group of lawmakers are banding together to create a new caucus focused on the fighter pilot community. The Mach 1 caucus will focus on air power, personnel issues and national security. It will also educate other members of Congress on the policies surrounding military pilots. Four representatives, all former pilots for the armed forces, founded the caucus.
  • The Postal Service’s best shot at a long-term legislative reform in recent years is finally moving ahead in Congress next week. The House expects to vote on the Postal Service Reform Act next week. At its core, the bill would eliminate a 2006 requirement for USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits well into the future. It would also require future Postal Service retirees to enroll in Medicare. The latest version of the bill now has support from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees, which raised concerns about previous versions. NARFE says the bill now avoids measures that would increase health insurance premiums for all non-postal federal employees and retirees. (Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service responds to criticism from the Biden administration and Congress that it’s not doing more to make electric vehicles part of its next-generation delivery fleet. USPS says it plans to buy 5,000 electric vehicles as part of its initial order to Oshkosh Defense. It also plans to order more electric vehicles if Congress makes additional funding available. Meanwhile 16 Democratic senators tell USPS that electric vehicles would save the agency money over time, and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

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