Maryland legislators ask for investigation into potential discrimination within its National Guard

In today's Federal Newscast, lawmakers want the National Guard Inspector General to investigate bias in the Maryland National Guard.

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  • Agency chief financial officers work differently than they did 30 years ago, when Congress passed the CFO Act. The CFO Vision Act, introduced by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) would address that by standardizing the roles of CFOs across government, and giving deputy CFOs additional authorities when there are CFO vacancies. The bill would also require the Office of Management and Budget to develop performance-based metrics to agency progress in making cost-effective and efficient operations.
  • Two Senators are teaming up to get Customs and Border Protection officers better retirement benefits. A bipartisan bill from Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)  would correct a decade-old system error from CBP. After recognizing the glitch, the agency rescinded certain benefits for more than 1,300 officers, now requiring them to meet additional qualifications before they would be eligible for a proportional annuity. Peters and Hawley said the CBPO Retirement Corrections Act would identify affected individuals, notify those officers and provide them with the promised coverage.
  • A bipartisan bill would increase overtime pay for Border Patrol agents, equaling the current compensation for other federal officers. The bi-partisan group of legislators, who introduced the bill, said providing equal pay to Border Patrol agents would strengthen recruitment and retention for the service. National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said current staffing numbers for the agency are critically low. The Border Patrol Pay Security Act would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow for the higher pay.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department seeks higher pay caps for more health care workers to address high turnover rates. Congress recently passed the RAISE Act to set higher pay caps for VA’s registered nurses and physician assistants. But VA officials are asking lawmakers for higher pay caps for other health care professionals, as well as streamlined hiring authority, to deal with a 15-year high in nurse turnover. Jessica Bonjorni, the Veterans Health Administration’s chief of human capital management, said the agency also needs to address issues like burnout and morale. “While we appreciate what we have been given with the RAISE Act, we know that VA still can’t be the pay leader, so we have to be the employer of choice.” (Federal News Network)
  • More details emerge about the contract vehicle many small businesses are waiting for. The General Services Administration updated its plan for Polaris, the $10 billion small business governmentwide acquisition contract. In new questions and answers posted Friday, GSA detailed several changes from the draft solicitation based on industry feedback. One big change is the self-scoring evaluation matrix. GSA changed the total points available to 95,000 instead of a range of 91,000 to 100,000 depending on the socio-economic pool. It also changed the requirement for joint ventures as well as the requirement to have a supply chain risk management plan in place before bidding. GSA said it plans to release the first two solicitations for Polaris soon, but didn’t offer any specific timeline.
  • The Defense Department is making a minor, but important change in its acquisition regulations. DoD issued a proposed rule to change all references to commercial items to commercial products or commercial services. It also is changing all references to non-commercial item to other than commercial product and/or commercial service. Congress required DoD to make this change to its own acquisition regulations in the 2019 defense authorization bill. This proposed rule is expected to resolve the issue the Section 809 Panel cited, which is that the acquisition workforce has faced issues with inconsistent interpretations of policy and confusion over how to identify eligible commercial products and commercial services.
  • The Pentagon looks to move its marquee artificial intelligence pathfinder to a new home. The Defense Department is looking to move Project Maven to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. That’s according to Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie. He told the House Armed Services Committee the move to NGA would expand the reach and capacity of Project Maven across defense intelligence. The program is currently run out of Moultrie’s office. It uses computer vision algorithms to tag objects identified in images and video taken by surveillance aircraft and military satellites.
  • Lawmakers want the National Guard Inspector General to investigate bias in the Maryland National Guard. Data from the military component from the past four years found that Black officer candidates were almost twice as likely to be dismissed compared to white candidates. Female candidates were also more likely to be dismissed. Seven Maryland representatives signed the letter to the inspector general.
  • Health officials in Hawaii say water supplies in most areas of the Navy’s Pearl Harbor water system are back to safe levels after a major fuel leak into the water supply last year. Tests show all of the military’s housing areas now have safe drinking water. Samples from a few non-residential areas are still being analyzed. The announcement comes after a massive effort to flush spilled fuel from the waterworks, and officials said the well that was contaminated by the Red Hill fuel leak has been disconnected from the water system. (Federal News Network)
  • The Space Force is taking a new approach to military fitness. Physical fitness tests are a classic staple in the military. However, the Space Force said next year it will do away with the exams. Instead, the service will rely on constant biometric monitoring of guardians to ensure they stay ready. The Space Force said it will use a holistic and data-driven approach so its service members are physically and mentally fit. Unlike the other services, the Space Force is focused on more digital applications and troops most likely will not be in physical combat situations. (Federal News Network)
  • The U.S. military confirms four Marines died during an aviation accident in Norway on Friday evening. The service members were part of an annual NATO exercise called Cold Response — not related to the war in Ukraine. The Marines were aboard an MV-22B Osprey that crashed in the northern reaches of the country. Local officials said rescue and recovery efforts were hampered by extremely tough weather conditions. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Homeland Security is recognizing its standout FOIA professionals. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the DHS Privacy Office Sunshine Awards last week. FEMA’s Greg Bridges was named FOIA Officer of the Year. The Deputy Chief FOIA Officer’s Support award went to members of the Coast Guard’s cyber unit. DHS was able to reduce its FOIA backlog by 30% in fiscal 2021.

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