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Legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of 2022 is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk. The Senate voted last night to approve a $1.5 trillion appropriations package. It includes increases for domestic agencies and Defense spending, plus another $13.6 billion to aid Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion. The White House says the president looks forward to signing the omnibus bill. (Federal News Network)
The Pentagon looks ahead to its 2023 budget request. Defense Department comptroller Mike McCord says artificial intelligence and microelectronics are key, cross-cutting investments in the 2023 budget. But McCord says one of the top priorities for DoD in this budget cycle has been space-based capabilities. “Space has probably emerged in our internal reviews as the most important foundational area for everything that we’re doing, everything that we need to be doing, whether it’s versus China, versus Russia or anybody else.” The Biden administration is expected to unveil the 2023 budget request in the coming weeks. (Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs considers closing some medical facilities, but also building new ones. The VA is looking to close three medical centers, and restructure its real-estate footprint across the country, as part of a long-awaited plan mandated by Congress. The VA will release its recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission on Monday a requirement under the 2018 MISSION Act. VA Secretary Denis McDonough says the plans will improve the overall level of care veterans receive, and will help modernize the agency to reflect broader trends in health care. “VA is here to stay. This is an investment in VA, not a retreat. It’s a doubling down, a strengthening of our ability to deliver world-class health care. It’s true, there will be changes in markets, but we are staying in every market,” McDonough added. (Federal News Network)
The Census Bureau says it came close, but produced a slightly flawed population tally in the 2020 decennial count. Director Robert Santos says the count missed a small percentage of the populations it typically misses: African American, Native Americans and Hispanics. It overcounted non-Hispanic Whites and Asians. As for the total population, Santos said a recent analysis shows a statistically zero error rate. He says the results are notable, given the challenges from the pandemic. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department is not doing a good enough job tracking whether small business prime contractors are just acting as pass-throughs to large firms. The DoD inspector general says for those set-aside contracts that have subcontracting limitations, DoD contracting officers are not documenting whether primes are adhering to the rules. The subcontracting limitation rule says small business prime contractors must not pay more than between 50 and 85% of the amount paid by the government to subcontractors. The IG says DoD can’t guarantee the small business programs are having the intended impact they were designed for.
The Air Force wants more women in leadership roles, but it may be getting in its own way. The service is trying to do something about that. One pregnant enlisted airman recently wanted to join a program to become an officer, but she needed a waiver from the second highest civilian in the service. Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones says that kind of bureaucracy is keeping women from succeeding in the service. She’s recently created a task force to look at what Air Force policies are discouraging women from climbing the ranks. The task force is asking service members to send in rules they find particularly prohibitive. (Federal News Network)
Airmen who are in dual military relationships will now have more time to decide if they want to stay in the service after having a child. The Air Force is giving either parent up to 12 months to request separation from the military after the birth or adoption of a child. The Air Force says the new policy reflects the service’s commitment to building a better work-life balance.
Federal employees will soon be able to obtain or update their Personal Identity Verification cards at post offices outside the D.C. metro area. The General Services Administration and the Postal Service this summer are expanding the number of USAccess Credentialing sites at post offices. The agencies made these services permanently available at seven D.C.-area post offices last year after a pilot of the concept took off. The first wave of new sites to open at post offices include New York, Sacramento, Houston, Lakeland, Florida and Fredericksburg, Virginia. These services will be available at 22 post offices by the end of the year. (Federal News Network)
GSA offers a peak into how digital services has changed one year after the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. Congress backed up the Brinks truck to the General Services Administration as part of the American Rescue Plan Act and dumped 150 million dollars into the Federal Citizen Services Fund. GSA says its has put the extra money to good use over the last year. For instance, the first cohort of 30 U.S. Digital Corps members will begin work in June. GSA received over a thousand applications for early-career technology experts to work on modernizing and simplifying public services. It also is using some of the money to redesign USA.gov to become an even more centralized and streamlined portal.