OPM hopes to make it easier for women to join Senior Executive Service

In today's Federal Newscast, a new program offers opportunities for more women to join the Senior Executive Service.

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  • A new program offers opportunities for more women to join the Senior Executive Service. The Office of Personnel Management releases the Executive Women in Motion: Pathways to the SES Toolkit to encourage interest in leadership positions. Currently, women comprise 37% of the SES. The EWIM toolkit will help agencies host independent sessions with guidance from OPM. In the sessions, leaders can participate in interagency mentoring, collaboration and more. OPM developed this toolkit to support the Equal Futures Partnership and the executive order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas named new members to the Homeland Security Advisory Council yesterday. The new appointments come a year after Mayorkas fired dozens of previous council members in an effort to “reconstitute” the panel. Mayorkas says the rebuilt panel will help DHS focus on new threats and technologies. One of the new members, former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, will co-lead the council. Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will continue to serve as the other co-chairman of the group.
  • The IRS plans to hire staff to tackle backlog faster, but struggles on competitive pay. The IRS expects new hiring authority will allow it to bring new employees onboard within 40 to 45 days, rather than several months, to deal with a major backlog of tax returns and correspondence. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says this will help the agency resolve its tax return and correspondence backlog by the end of the calendar year. “For more than two years, we’ve been requesting direct hiring authority because we compete with the private sector who can bring somebody on board the next week. And for us, it’s been a six-to-eight month process.” Rettig says pay remains an issue, and that the agency is stuck paying some of its front-line workers $15 an hour. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is running into more problems with the rollout of a new Electronic Health Record. Its inspector general’s office finds the new EHR sometimes failed to notify providers that patients were flagged as being at high risk of suicide, and gave providers an incomplete picture of patients’ health care data. The EHR platform also suffered from data migration issues that prevented veterans from logging onto an online patient portal, and sometimes led to links to telehealth appointments being sent using outdated contract information. (Federal News Network)
  • Gaps in federal financial data are hampering oversight of COVID-19 relief spending. The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is tracking more than $5 trillion in pandemic relief spending. But Comptroller General Gene Dodaro says a key issue is the accuracy and timeliness of how agencies report on grants and other relief spending. Dodaro says inspectors general should have more oversight of how agencies report to USAspending.gov. “The main thing is the quality, the completeness and timeliness are still major issues for all federal spending.” (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is considering how it will reopen some of its offices if coronavirus levels stay low. The Pentagon says civilian employees will not be returning to business as usual as the pandemic continues to slow. The Defense Department released guidance on how non-military employees will come back to work in-person, if they will at all. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks says supervisors must give employees 30-days’ notice before asking workers to change their current schedules. Changes will depend on local outbreaks and health protection status. DoD says it will be embracing more telework in the future to retain talent. (Federal News Network)
  • Contractors on the losing end of a task or delivery order from the Defense Department worth at least $10 million are now eligible to receive a more detailed post-award debriefing. DoD finalized a rule to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations System that fully implements a provision from the 2018 Defense authorization bill. Under this final rule, DoD made only a few changes from the proposed rule. One major change is clarifying when the protest period starts, five days after the agency answers any follow-up questions after the debriefing. DoD says over the last three years it made on average more than 5,500 task and delivery order awards worth more than $10 million.
  • The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are partnering to take a closer look at impacts of mergers and acquisitions. The agencies are offering a chance for feedback in four upcoming sessions. These forums come after a request for information on merger enforcement that the agencies released. The listening forums are open to consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, investors and others. DOJ and the FTC are also collaborating to host a Spring Enforcers Summit on April 4 to work toward a whole-of-government approach to enforcing antitrust laws.
  • A handful of lawmakers will service on the Congressionally-mandated panel looking into the relationship between emerging biotechnology and national security. The commission will deliver an unclassified report to the President and Congress in the next two years. Nominees to the panel include Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Representative Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.). Other nominees include industry experts like Alexander Titus at Google Research.
  • GSA releases more details about the new services acquisition multiple award contract. The General Services Administration is step-by-step creating the new governmentwide services multiple award contract. The latest piece to this puzzle is the draft evaluation criteria that GSA is seeking comments on. GSA wants to use a self-scoring system where bidders can apply points based on 11 criteria to try to equal 50 credits. The qualifications matrix covers everything from innovation to management and staffing to corporate experience. The draft evaluation criteria follows the release of the draft services domains and draft small business strategy over the last few months. Comments on the evaluation criteria are due by April 8th.

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