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The Small Business Administration is about to get smaller. SBA is planning to shed the equivalent of more than 3,400 full-time employees as part of its budget request for fiscal 2023. That’s a nearly 40% reduction of its full-time workforce. SBA told Congress in its budget justification that nearly all the affected jobs belong to temporary employees brought on through supplemental COVID-19 appropriations. The Biden administration, in its federal workforce data, estimates the SBA workforce grew to nearly 11,000 full-time equivalents this year.
The Space Force wants a large budget increase in 2023 compared to what Congress gave it this year. The military’s newest branch has slowly come into its own over the past couple years. For 2023, the Space Force is asking for $24.5 billion, a $7 billion increase compared to 2022’s budget request. The service said it will use a large chunk of that money to build out the Defense Department’s space-based missile tracking system. Another large piece of the funds will go to expanding GPS III and to buying rockets to put more satellites in space. DoD has said space is critical to protecting national security.
Republicans criticizing the Biden administration’s Defense budget want to know the cost of inflation on the military. The Defense Department created its 2023 budget before inflation rose to current levels. Now the top Republicans on the Armed Services Committees want to know how that will affect the military’s buying power. The lawmakers want answers from the Pentagon by mid-April.
Transportation Security Officers would see a major salary boost under the White House’s 2023 budget proposal. The Biden administration is asking Congress to fund a 30% pay increase for security screeners at the Transportation Security Administration. The 2023 budget request also proposes a 20% pay increase for federal air marshals. The White House is asking Congress to offset the increase in TSA’s budget by allowing the agency to keep the passenger security fees it collects, rather than sending them to the federal treasury. The proposal would bring salaries for TSA employees in line with much of the rest of the federal government. (Federal News Network)
Agencies are asking for more money for federal IT in 2023. Federal civilian agencies are asking for a $7 billion raise for IT spending in fiscal 2023. As part of the White House’s budget request to Congress, OMB detailed significant increases in IT spending for nearly every agency adding up to more than $65 billion. The Department of Homeland Security, SBA and the Office of Personnel Management would be among the biggest winners in 2023. DHS is asking for $2 billion more next year than it asked for in 2022, while OPM’s IT request is three times as much as it asked for last year and SBA’s $295 million request is more than double than what is asked for in the 2022 budget.
The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget want to use more data to recruit federal employees, in part by increasing reviews of historical information. OPM Director Kiran Ahuja and OMB Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller said in a blog post that improving data collection and analysis will help agencies create a more engaged and empowered workforce. This goal aligns with OPM’s priorities under its new strategic plan for fiscal 2022 through 2026, which partly focuses on increasing the quality and use of federal human capital data.
The Office of Personnel Management’s new strategic plan for fiscal 2022 through 2026 focuses largely on increasing diversity in the federal workforce. The agency wants to increase its index score for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility by 6% by fiscal 2026. To make that happen, OPM’s budget request includes $2 million for the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. This effort falls under the first goal of OPM’s new strategic plan, which aims to improve the governmentwide satisfaction index score by four points.
In a span of two weeks, the Office of Management and Budget now has its full compliment of senior leadership. The Senate last night confirmed Nani Coloretti to be OMB deputy director by a vote of 57 to 41. Coloretti joins Shalanda Young, whom the Senate confirmed to be OMB director on March 15. President Joe Biden nominated Coloretti in November. She comes to OMB after serving a the senior vice president at the Urban Institute and during the Obama administration she served as the deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
President Joe Biden intends to nominate Travis LeBlanc for a second term on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. LeBlanc has served on the PCLOB since 2019. The board is an independent agency whose mission is to ensure counterterrorism programs don’t violate privacy and civil liberties rights. Last year, LeBlanc raised concerns about the adequacy of the board’s investigation into a secret National Security Agency system. Since then, the board has seen some turnover, and now has a new chairwoman in Sharon Bradford Franklin.
The Merit Systems Protection Board is closer to having all three members. The Senate, using a unanimous consent cloture vote on further debate , advanced the nomination of Cathy Ann Harris to become the third member and chairman of the MSPB. That normally results in a subsequent confirmation vote. Also advancing is former MSPB chair Susan Tsui Grundmann to a seat on the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
The Office of Government Ethics said its workload has more than doubled vetting the financial disclosures of Biden administration nominees. OGE said that work is consistent with the first two years of any new administration. OGE said it’s also tracking more than 100 bills in Congress that would make significant changes to the Ethics in Government Act or criminal conflict of interest statutes. OGE said the lease on its office space expires in February 2024, but it is also exploring workplace flexibilities like telework.
Less than four days after releasing the first set of solicitations for the Polaris small business contract, the General Services Administration is already facing a protest. BD Squared filed a pre-award complaint with the Government Accountability Office over changes to the mentor-protégé program requirements. BD Squared claims letting large business mentors provide all past performance and relevant experience in the bid harms small businesses and violates SBA regulations. The protestor is asking for GSA to take corrective action by amending the solicitation to require consideration of the experience and qualifications of the small business protégé partner. (Federal News Network)