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Staffing levels are getting closer to normal for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. With 450 new hires, the two Agriculture Department facilities reach a combined total of 650 workers. The hiring push follows the loss of many ERS and “NIFA” employees after the facilities relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, in 2019. Secretary Tom Vilsack said at the agency’s budget request hearing that hiring has been “robust.” The two staffs are 100 workers away from USDA’s total goal of 750.
Lawmakers move forward with an effort to increase pay and benefits for airport screeners. The Transportation Security Administration workforce is a step closer to seeing increased pay and benefits. The House voted to approve the Rights for the TSA Workforce Act of 2022 on Thursday. It would eliminate the special personnel authorities at TSA and bring the workforce in line with most other federal employees under Title 5 of U.S. Code. That includes full collective bargaining rights, access to an independent third party for dispute resolutions, and the General Schedule wage system. The bill now needs to be approved by the Senate. (Federal News Network)
The Biden administration is sounding the alarm on AI hiring tools that screen out disabled applicants. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Justice Department issue guidance outlining ways AI and automated hiring tools can violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC Chairwoman Charlotte Burrows told reporters the guidance applies to employers nationwide. But she says EEOC is working closely with the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which ensures federal contractors comply with nondiscrimination laws and regulations. Burrows said more than 80% of employers are using AI in some form for their work and employment decision-making.
Agencies may see a new platform to host governmentwide internship listings. The House Oversight Committee has approved a bill to establish an internship and fellowship center at the Office of Personnel Management. The legislation directs OPM to create an online database compiling all internship openings. The Building the Next Generation of Federal Employees Act would also ensure all federal interns get paid. Lawmakers say the end goal is to recruit interns to full-time federal service. The committee passed the bill 25 to 19 along party lines.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority has a new member. By a 50-49 party-line vote, the Senate confirmed Susan Tsui Grundmann to the three member panel. She replaces James Abbott. Long experienced in federal employee relations matters, Grundmann was executive director of the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, and earlier a member and chairman of the Merit Systems Protection Board. An attorney, Grundmann has also been general counsel to the National Federation of Government Employees, and to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
The Postal Service is adding new members to its Board of Governors. The Senate confirms President Joe Biden’s two latest picks, Dan Tangherlini, the former head of the General Services Administration, and Derek Kan, a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Once Tangherlini and Kan are sworn in, a majority of the USPS Board of Governors will be Biden nominees. Among its priorities, the board will implement the agency’s 10-year reform plan and oversee the acquisition of a next generation delivery vehicle fleet. (Federal News Network)
The State Department is losing a key technology executive. Keith Jones, the State Department’s chief information officer, is heading back to the private sector. Jones confirmed that his last day is June 17. Jones didn’t say where in the private sector he was heading. Jones has spent time during his career in both the public and private sector. He joined State as its CIO in January 2021 after two years in the private sector. Prior to that, Jones worked at the Homeland Security Department for 15 years. Glenn Miller, who is the principal deputy CIO, will take over as acting CIO on an interim basis. (Federal News Network)
The IRS saw the amount of money collected through enforcement mechanism drop by more than $8 billion in fiscal 2020 as compared to the all-time high in 2018. A new report by the Inspector General for Tax Administration found the number of staff performing examinations dropped by almost 10% over the last three years leading to 55% fewer correspondence examinations and 59% fewer field examinations in 2020 as compared to 2016. Auditors say the continued decline in enforcement activity is likely causing growth in the overall tax gap as taxpayers are less likely to be subject to an examination.
The Space Force may have its own National Guard component if lawmakers get their way. The military’s newest service has been trying to figure out what to do with its part-time service members since its inception. A bipartisan group of lawmakers want to create a Space National Guard with a new bill they introduced this week. There are more than 1,000 National Guard members currently performing space functions. The Space Force recently submitted a report suggesting creating a hybrid organization that meshes the reserve and Guard components.
A rash of deaths on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Austin told lawmakers that keeping sailors lodged on ships during maintenance is a problem for the Navy. Austin is waiting for two investigations into multiple suicides aboard the ship. The George Washington is currently docked in Virginia for maintenance, 400 sailors were living on the ship. The Navy is in the process of finding on-shore homes for them.
Spy agencies are looking to take better advantage of open source intelligence. The CIA is leading efforts to standardize how intel agencies use open source data. The effort is key to sharing information across agencies. The Defense Intelligence Agency’s Open Source Intelligence Integration Center is also making headway. The center is hiring OSINT professionals, and looking to use artificial intelligence to analyze vast amounts of publicly available information. (Federal News Network)