Congress introduces idea to change how COLAs are calculated for federal retirees

In today's Federal Newscast, House lawmakers want to change how cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are calculated for many federal retirees.

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  • House lawmakers want to change how cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are calculated for many federal retirees. The Equal COLA Act aims to achieve parity for annuities paid under FERS, the Federal Employees Retirement System. Currently, when consumer prices increase, COLAs for FERS retirees are either capped or reduced. Federal organizations, such as the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, support the legislation, saying it would create more equitable COLA calculations for FERS retirees.
  • A federal watchdog said the Department of Homeland Security could learn a lot from its initiative to vaccinate employees against COVID-19. DHS’ plan to vaccinate some employees against COVID-19 was set back by communication issues and missing data. That’s the big takeaway from a new report released by the DHS inspector general last week. The IG said there was inconsistent messaging about whether DHS was attempting to get vaccines for all its employees or only frontline workers. The report also found the effort was hampered by missing and erroneous personnel data. The department ultimately agreed with the IG’s recommendation to ensure DHS components maintain up-to-date rosters of essential employees.
  • The National Science Foundation saw high satisfaction from its employees in the 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. For many of the survey questions, NSF fared better than the governmentwide average for FEVS. When asked if they agree that the agency successfully achieves its mission, employees at NSF responded more than 95% positively. That’s over 15% higher than the governmentwide rate. Additionally, 67% of NSF employees responded to the survey, while the response rate across all agencies was 34%.
  • A demand for speedier health innovations and a more diverse biomedical workforce led to the National Institute’s of Health’s roughly 46% proposed budget increase for FY 2023. The President’s Budget Request has an additional $5 billion to stand up the new Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) program, which is designed to support for innovative research and experimentation, much like the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. The 2023 budget also increases funding for the chief office for scientific workforce diversity, to expand recruitment of staff from underrepresented communities. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies will soon have easier access to innovative technologies. The General Services Administration is opening up the FAStLane for non-traditional companies working with the Defense Innovation Unit to get them on the schedules contract. Under a new MOU between GSA and DIU, companies who have won other transaction agreements or production awards from DIU and proven their technologies will have a more direct path to get on the governmentwide schedules contract. DIU is focused on bringing nontraditional companies into the defense market around autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems and space.
  • The General Services Administration is testing six next-generation green building technologies across the federal building portfolio. GSA through its Green Proving Ground program is for the first time testing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. GSA said it’s laying the foundation for more electric vehicles in the federal fleet, as envisioned by the Biden administration. The agency is also looking at new window films and solar panel technology that may improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings. The Green Proving Ground program tested more than 80 next-generation building technologies since it started in 2011.
  • A bill that aims to help feds identify cybersecurity risks in their technology purchases is set to become law. The House passed the Supply Chain Security Training Act last week. The Senate already passed the bill. It directs the General Services Administration to create a standardized supply chain security training program. It would be available to employees with supply chain risk management responsibilities. Lawmakers said the SolarWinds hack and other supply chain breaches highlight the need for more robust supply chain security training.
  • Agencies saved $500 billion by adopting recommendations from the Government Accountability Office over the last decade. GAO said the opportunity to save even more money, in this case tens of billions of additional dollars, is still on the table. Agencies and Congress fully met about 56% of nearly 1,300 GAO recommendations over the last decade meant to avoid duplicated work across the federal government. Those actions resulted in about $552 billion in projected cost savings. The Defense Department met the most recommendations, followed by the Department of Health and Human Services and IRS. The watchdog agency is adding 94 new actions agencies or Congress could take to improve the efficiency and operations of the federal government. (Federal News Network)
  • One of the largest government contractors has been sold. The Carlyle Group is buying ManTech International for $4.2 billion in an all cash deal. ManTech won 77 contracts worth over $1 billion in fiscal 2021 from the federal government. It provides IT and technical services with a focus on defense and intelligence community analytics and cybersecurity programs. It had 2021 revenue of $2.6 billion overall and has about 9,000 employees. The purchase still needs shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second half of 2022. (WTOP News)
  • Federal prosecutors charged a member of the West Virginia National Guard with taking part in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Technical Sgt. Jamie Lynn Ferguson is scheduled to make her first court appearance today. Prosecutors said the Air Force Office of Special Investigations identified Ferguson as one of the people who stormed the Capitol. Later, she allegedly admitted to FBI agents that she entered the building and spent about 40 minutes in the Capitol Rotunda. (Federal News Network)
  • Three of the Air Force’s experimental projects have now made it to the big leagues. Three of the Air Force’s vanguard programs will become programs of record in 2023, according to one of the service’s top scientists. The vanguard program was created by the service to single out far-reaching experimental projects and bring them to fruition. Golden Horde, a swarming drone program, Skyborg, an artificial autonomous partner for pilots and Navigation Technology Satellite-3, a next generation GPS all made the cut. The Air Force still has one more program focused on using rockets to deliver cargo that remains in the experimental phase.
  • The Army is appointing Michael Monteleone as the new director for the assured position, navigation and timing cross functional team. The position is critical to the service’s goal to modernize through the Army Futures Command. There are eight cross functional teams focused on top technological priorities for the Army. Monteleone will start at the new position next week.

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