Vets suing Army for not recognizing substance abuse disorders in discharges

In today's Federal Newscast, veterans are suing the Army for refusing to give soldiers with alcohol and drug addictions honorable discharges.

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  • House staffers may have a pay raise coming their way in 2023. That’s if Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) get their way. They’ve proposed a 4.6% automatic cost-of-living adjustment as well as accommodations such as child care subsidies, a first-time homebuyer’s assistance benefit and making staff eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. These benefits would apply to House members’ staffers as well as staff serving on committees. The proposed increase in benefits is meant to make these positions more competitive and to attract better talent.
  • Industry groups makes the case for more funding for IT modernization. Nine industry groups representing nearly every major technology contractor from the defense and civilian sectors make the case for why Congress should invest more money in the Technology Modernization Fund and similar programs. The groups ranging from the IT Industry Council to the Professional Services Council to the Alliance for Digital Innovation to the National Defense Industrial Association told House and Senate appropriation committee leaders that as they begin work on the fiscal 2023 budget, they should provide predictable, sustained and appropriately robust investment. They ask the committees to meet or exceed the president’s request of $300 million for the TMF and provide additional funding for cybersecurity efforts.
  • The Biden administration is giving agencies a playbook to make the best use of $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget directs each agency to name a senior official to oversee implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. OMB is also directing agency equity teams to ensure funding helps support under-served and rural communities. The memo also outlines agencies how agencies should avoid improper payments.
  • Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, public health agencies did not have procedures for reporting and addressing political interference in their scientific decisions. The Government Accountability Office reports that many employees at the Department of Health and Human Services feared retaliation for speaking up. Often, those workers were also unsure how to report issues or they believed agency leaders were already aware of the problems. GAO said HHS should develop better procedures and appropriately train staff to help improve scientific integrity.
  • The Social Security Administration did not fare well in the latest iteration of governmentwide pulse surveys. SSA employees have one of the lowest scores among agencies surveyed about their thoughts on re-entry plans, with 26.7% saying they disagreed or strongly disagreed that senior leaders were clearly communicating return-to-work timelines. A reported 31.9% of SSA respondents also disagreed that agency leaders were protecting employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. Those three-to-four-question pulse surveys are distributed by the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration is settling a class action lawsuit brought to court by female special agents who were passed over for overseas assignments in the early 1990s. DEA announced it would pay $12 million to compensate 71 current and former employees who presented individual claims for damages. An administrative judge still must approve the settlement agreement. DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said the settlement builds upon DEA’s continuing efforts to promote the advancement of women in their workforce.
  • Veterans are suing the Army for refusing to give soldiers with alcohol and drug addictions honorable discharges. The lawsuit states that the Army is not recognizing substance abuse disorders as mental health conditions that could lead to soldier misconduct. The lawsuit notes that some soldiers turn to substances after experience traumatic events in the military.
  • The Space Force wants to take a unique approach to its reserve and Guard components. The Space Force wants to create a hybrid structure that will encompass both its reserve and National Guard needs, according to the service’s highest-ranking officer. Named the Space Component, the mixed organization would merge full-time and part-time guardians. Space Force officials say the component could make it so service members don’t have to pick between their personal lives and their careers. The Space Force is putting particular emphasis on work-life balance as it continues to grow its ranks.
  • The Defense Department’s suicide prevention director is now the Biden administration’s chief statistician. The Office of Management and Budget names Karin Orvis as its chief statistician, as well as branch chief for statistical and science policy at its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. OMB hasn’t had a permanent official to lead these efforts in more than two years. Orvis previously served as the director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, which leads suicide prevention programs across the Defense Department. As OMB’s chief statistician, she will oversee a decentralized network of statistical agencies. (Federal News Network)
  • After more than a decade, the head of the National Archives and Records Administration retires. April 30 was David Ferreiro’s last day as archivist of the United States. He led NARA since being confirmed in late 2009 during President Barack Obama’s first term. During his 12 years in charge, Ferreiro oversaw a major shift from paper to electronic recordkeeping. Ferreiro also led the establishment of the Citizen Archivist program that allows volunteers to transcribe and tag records. Deputy Archivist Debra Wall will serve as the acting archivist of the United States until the White House selects a permanent replacement.
  • The CIA picks a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur as its first chief technology officer. Nand Mulchandani is the CIA’s first ever CTO. His job is to stay on top of cutting-edge innovations, and he’ll report to Director William Burns. Mulchandani previously served as acting director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. He has also co-founded several technology startups. Last year, the CIA created a new Transnational and Technology Mission Center to focus on emerging foreign technologies, along with climate change and global health.

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