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The Office of Personnel Management is giving formerly incarcerated individuals an opportunity to join the federal workforce. OPM is hosting webinars this week for formerly incarcerated job seekers to understand the federal hiring process. It’s also holding webinars for agencies to learn about recruiting strategies and hiring authorities meant for candidates with a criminal record. Candidates don’t have to answer questions about their criminal history in the initial application for most federal jobs, but do need to disclose that information once they receive a tentative offer of employment.
The Federal Managers Association is raising the red flag over bonuses paid to the U.S. Marshals Service’s Senior Executive Service members. The association wrote to Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, respectively, asking them to look into both cash awards paid to SES in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the slowness of the Marshals Service’s response to their Freedom of Information Act request. FMA said the agency paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses during a time when thousands of USMS employees went without pay during a 35-day furlough in 2019.
Firings are on the table for Department of Veterans Affairs employees who don’t comply with COVID-19 requirements. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said six health care workers have been separated from the agency for not following workplace COVID-19 requirements. One employee refused to give the agency his agency vaccination status. Four employees were terminated for refusing to wear a mask. Another was fired for refusing to comply with COVID-19 testing requirements. McDonough said the agency is providing reasonable accommodations for employees who have requested religious or health exemptions to the vaccine mandate for health care workers. “The decision here, at the end of the day, has been a clinical one. It’s how do we ensure veterans that we’ve taken every step within our power to ensure their safety and their security?” (Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs major financial systems upgrades earned a good review from auditors. The VA got high marks for its change management and data migration and conversion efforts under the Financial Management Business Transformation program. VA is replacing its 30-year old financial system with the Integrated Financial and Acquisition Management System. This $3.2 billion project already is implemented at the National Cemetery Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration. The Government Accountability Office found VA is doing a good job meeting the seven tenets of good change management. GAO also said VA’s data conversion activities were consistent and sought to minimize risks to operations.
Nobody said auditing the Defense Department would be cheap. The Navy Department has just created a new contract vehicle to support its audit readiness efforts. It’s worth up to $1 billion over the next five years. Four vendors won spots on the ID/IQ contract: KPMG, Deloitte, Guidehouse, and Sehlke Consulting. Navy officials told vendors they want them to get their financial processes in shape for an independent audit and also support “sustainable” processes to keep them that way once the Navy or Marine Corps earns a clean opinion.
Congress spent the last few years trying to improve privatized military housing after mold, mice and lead paint harmed service members and their families. Now even after guilty pleas from contractors, some of the same issues are afoot. Balfour Beatty Communities has been disregarding environmental and safety concerns in military housing communities for the past two years. That’s according to a new Senate report looking into the company. The findings come after the business pleaded guilty late last year to defrauding the government between 2013 and 2019. The Senate report said Balfour Beatty’s behavior since 2019 mirrors the tactics it used in the years previous. Executives from the company were scheduled to testify before lawmakers today. (Federal News Network)
The federal government is spending taxpayer dollars on robot dogs on the border, derelict lobster trap removal, and an opera about monkeys. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is highlighting these programs in his sixth annual report highlighting what he considers wasteful federal spending. Lankford said in this year’s report that the Army spent more than $13 million for office furniture at a facility in Florida, a nearly $2 million went to renovate buildings at Guantanamo Bay.
Craig Martell is stepping up as the chief digital and artificial intelligence officer at the Pentagon. Martell will help the Defense Department accelerate its adoption of digital solutions, data management, analytics and AI. Martell recently served as the head of machine learning for Lyft and also held the same positions at Dropbox. He also is a tenured professor at the Navy Postgraduate School.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is bringing on a long-time cybersecurity leader. CISA announced that Bob Lord will join the agency as a senior technical advisor. He’s expected to focus on strengthening partnerships, including the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative. Lord was the first chief security officer at the Democratic National Committee. He also worked as chief information security officer at Yahoo and previously led Twitter’s information security program.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency released a new tech strategy. NGA released new technology focus areas at this year’s GEOINT summit in Denver. They include a big emphasis on data access and integrity, as well as automation. The areas help explain where the agency is headed, according to NGA Director, Vice Adm. Robert Sharp. “You can see that our workflows are changing from human initiated to machine to machine initiated, we need to make these changes in order to increase our speed and stay ahead of the growing amount of GEOINT created each and every day.”