Navy’s vaccine mandate is front and center in court case today

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  • Congress seeks updates on state of the federal workforce in its $1.5 trillion omnibus spending deal. The spending package for the rest of fiscal 2022 requires the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management to brief the appropriations committees on the challenges agencies face getting qualified federal employees hired in a reasonable amount of time The omnibus also requires OPM to develop a governmentwide human capital strategy focused on the current state of the federal STEM workforce, as well as anticipated STEM talent needs. The omnibus also directs OPM to increase the number of interns that work in the federal government over a three-year period. (Federal News Network)
  • The omnibus spending bill includes new money and authorities for a key cyber agency. The fiscal 2022 spending agreement includes nearly $2.6 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. That’s more than $500 million above CISA’s current annual budget. The bill provides the biggest increase for CISA’s cybersecurity operations program, including a $120 million increase for threat hunting on federal networks. Lawmakers also included cyber incident reporting requirements for critical infrastructure companies in the omnibus bill. The language would require companies to report significant cyber attacks to CISA.
  • The IRS would get its largest budget increase in decades as part of the omnibus spending package from House and Senate appropriators. The bill would give the agency a $12.6 billion budget for the rest of the fiscal year. That’s a more than 5% increase from current levels. The spending deal would also give the IRS direct hiring authority, which would allow the agency to hire employees quickly to deal with its current backlog of tax returns and correspondence. (Federal News Network)
  • IT modernization funding takes a big hit in the omnibus spending bill. Lawmakers zeroed out new funding for the Technology Modernization Fund while also reducing totals for other key governmentwide pools of money. In the fiscal 2022 omnibus spending bill released Tuesday, Congress didn’t heed the Biden administration’s request for $500 million for the TMF nor the House’s initial funding plan of $50 million. Additionally, the IT Oversight and Reform Fund at OMB was cut from $12.5 million dollars in 2021 to $8 million. The General Services Administration’s Federal Citizen Services Fund also would get $55 million, which is the same as it received in 2021.
  • Congress is upping the military’s budget higher than expected. Congress’ omnibus spending bill would give the military $782 billion for 2022. That package is $4 billion more than what the defense authorization act suggests and about $30 billion more than what the White House requested. More than $13 billion of those funds would go to aid Ukraine. The bill supports a 2.7% pay increase for troops and funds 13 new ships for the Navy. That’s five more than the service requested in its budget.
  • A federal court in Florida will hear arguments today on a vaccine mandate case that the Navy said has effectively put one of its guided missile destroyers out of commission. The ship’s commanding officer has refused the Navy’s orders to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But Judge Steven Merryday ruled last month that the Navy can’t remove him from command, because his objections are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Navy said it won’t deploy the destroyer with the current commander in charge, and that the court order keeping him in place is an “extraordinary intrusion” on military decisions.
  • Whistleblowers from the intelligence community get new protections under the omnibus funding legislation members of Congress have agreed to. The updates clarify that all elements of the IC are included in protections already in place, and that whistleblowers can call out mismanagement, not just gross mismanagement. The legislation gives the IC inspector general sole authority to determine whether disclosures are of urgent concern. According to a reading by the Project on Government Oversight, certain confidentiality safeguards are left out, as well as aligning the burden of proof test so it matches that of Title 5 whistleblowers.
  • At least one federal contractor, working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, has died as a result of Russian war-making against Ukraine. Chemonics International CEO Jamey Butcher said on LinkedIn that the staff member was killed near Kyiv while trying to get medicine for her mother. Valeriaa Maksetska, her mother and her driver all died when their car was fired on by a Russian tank. Ms. Maksetska was a procurement officer for one of the company’s Ukraine programs.
  • The Transportation Security Administration has a plan for the next generation of identity technologies. TSA released its Identity Management Roadmap this week. TSA said it vets 3 million individuals at airports every day. The agency wants to improve the traveler experience while still reducing risks to transportation systems. TSA said technologies like digital identification, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain could play an important role in new identity management solutions.
  • The Air Force activates a new school for civilian leadership at its Air University. The leadership development school will focus on civilian-centric professional development across the Air Force. The center will over various levels of development courses ranging from beginner to advanced. Civilians can also get associate and undergraduate degrees.
  • The Biden administration takes an important step to fill two key roles at the Veterans Affairs Department. The White House said the president plans to nominate Shereef Elnahal, to be the Under Secretary for Health in the Veterans Health Administration, and Ray Jefferson to be the Under Secretary for Benefits for the Veterans Benefits Administration. Elnahal is a physician and served as president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Jefferson is a former appointee during the Obama administration as the assistant secretary for Veterans’ Employment and Training at the Department of Labor.

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