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Federal unions express support for House legislation that would make it easier to vote. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced the Time Off to Vote Act, in an effort help workers with difficult schedules make it to the polls on election day. The American Federation of Government Employees said the bill would help ensure all employees can participate in their voting rights. The Office of Personnel Management also took steps last month to reduce voting barriers, releasing guidance on an executive order to promote voting access.
The Office of Personnel Management outlines more steps for agencies to highlight collective bargaining right for federal employees. OPM is directing agencies to allow unions to put materials on office bulletin boards, as well as the agency’s public-facing websites or employees-only intranets. It’s also telling agencies to quickly process requests to pay union dues through payroll deductions, and train managers and supervisors on how to remain neutral during union organizing campaigns. This is OPM’s second round of guidance on the topic. It issued its first round last October. Both stem from an executive order President Joe Biden signed in April 2021. (Federal News Network)
Participants in the Thrift Savings Plan could see more diverse investment options by fiscal 2026. The organization that oversees the TSP — the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board — plans to add a mutual fund window in the next five years. That goal comes as part of the board’s strategic plan for fiscal 2022 through 2026. Also included in that plan are strategies to provide individualized details on retirement plan options, as well as strengthen the agency’s IT security.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expands online filing to those with DACA status. Individuals who are covered under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program can now file their I-821D renewal forms online. USCIS says this will make operations more efficient and effective for the agency and stakeholders — especially as it pushes to reduce its reliance on paper records. USCIS saw close to 9 million requests for immigration benefits in FY 2021, which is a 2.3% increase from FY 2020. Applicants can already pay fees and track their request status online.
The military is putting an increased emphasis on lethal means safety as a way to prevent service member suicide. That means ensuring firearms, medications and other dangerous materials are locked up. The Defense Department says taking an extra step to reach lethal means is more likely to discourage someone from taking their life. In 2020, the military saw a record 580 service member suicides.
Resource mining on the moon and space junk sound like sci-fi, but they are actual concerns the Pentagon is considering. The Defense Department says the space domain is becoming rapidly militarized and it is concerned about vying for dominance with China and Russia. A new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency says dual-use spacecraft built by those nations for civil and military purposes are high on DoD’s threat list. The department says China and Russia may be interested in exploiting the moon’s natural resources as well. Another concern is the mounting amount of debris orbiting the earth’s atmosphere and causing potential hazards for spacecraft. (Federal News Network)
The Justice Department is bringing federal Freedom of Information Act professionals together for a FOIA Summit. DOJ’s Office of Information Policy will host the virtual event on May 4. Agency FOIA professionals will get to hear the latest on best practices, including how some of their colleagues adapted to COVID-19 challenges. Officials will also discuss recent reports from the Government Accountability Office that show FOIA backlogs and processing times are on the rise across government.
The Bureau of Land Management is moving ahead with a new solar power project. The Copper Rays Solar Project is a proposed 700 megawatt utility-scale photovoltaic solar power generation and battery storage facility that will sit on more than five-thousand acres of BLM-managed land in Nevada — forty miles west of Las Vegas. The bureau says the project supports the Biden administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. The project’s next step is to publish a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement which opens the public comment period.
The State Department is looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the international shipping sector as part of the Biden administration’s green government goals. The agency is working with countries to reach net-zero carbon emissions from international shipping by 2050. That’s the same year President Joe Biden is setting net-zero carbon emissions from the federal government. The agency says the administration is investing in research and development to advance sustainable technology, and getting other countries to commit to setting green shipping lane goals.
The Central Intelligence Agency looks to refresh a key technology strategy. The CIA is updating its artificial intelligence strategy. U.S. spy agencies are paying close attention to how other countries are using AI, while also looking to take advantage of the technology across their own enterprises. The CIA wants to take a whole-of-agency approach to AI, according to Lakshmi Raman, chief of AI at the CIA. “We want to go across collection, analysis, operations, digital innovation, S&T, acquisition, legal, finance. We want everybody to feel a part of this strategy.” (Federal News Network)