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Federal workers who get injured on the job may soon have better access to workers’ compensation. The House passes legislation that would expand federal employees’ choice of medical providers. The act would cover the cost of medical care for injured federal workers who seek treatment from physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The current law limits reimbursable medical fees just to physicians. The bipartisan bill cleared the House in a vote of 325-83.
The Senate reversed a 16-year-old law that made it harder for contractors to respond to disasters. The Repeal of Obsolete DHS Contracting Requirements Act rescinded a section of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. This provision required the Department of Homeland Security to prohibit the use of subcontracts for more than 65% of the cost of certain emergency response and recovery contracts. The section conflicted with a provision of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act that imposed a governmentwide limitation to prevent excessive subcontracting. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who co-sponsored the bill, said the provision caused confusion for FEMA officials and contractors, and weakened disaster response efforts.
Two senators are urging President Joe Biden to update what they say is an outdated government classification system. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said there is an urgent need to modernize rules governing classification and declassification. They are urging Biden to either amend or replace the current executive order on classified national security information. Earlier this year, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers that overclassification is a threat to U.S. national security.
The agency that manages the Thrift Savings Plan has a new team of leaders. The Senate confirmed four members to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Dana Bilyeu and Michael Gerber are reappointments, while Leona Bridges and Stacie Olivares are new board members. The confirmation comes after six Republican senators placed a hold on the nominees last month. The lawmakers raised concerns about Chinese investments through the TSP’s mutual fund window, but after the members said they would not let TSP funds invest in China, the senators lifted the hold.
Federal employees have a chance to help improve the Freedom of Information Act process. The FOIA Federal Advisory Committee is looking for new members after the current group finished its fourth term. The committee is made up of 20 members, divided evenly among the public and private sectors. Members serve two-year terms and attend monthly meetings to discuss possible improvements to the FOIA process. Applications for the 2022 to 2024 committee are due on June 30. The committee is a part of the Office of Government Information Services.
The National Archives’ FOIA Federal Advisory Committee offered 21 ways departments across the government can improve the Freedom of Information Act process. The committee’s recommendations include advising agencies to post information beyond what is required by law on their FOIA websites and to proactively update an online searchable FOIA log. Their report also includes possible ideas for expanding documents included in FOIA to the judicial branch.
The Postal Service’s regulator finds USPS’ plans to upgrade some its package services might lead to inefficiencies. The Postal Service’s proposal would upgrade service standards for its retail ground and Parcel Select Ground services to a 2-to-5 day delivery standard. USPS currently allows up to 8 days to deliver under its standard. But the Postal Regulatory Commission in a nonbinding opinion finds the plan may lead to more manual processing of packages and a higher demand for staff at facilities. The PRC says this could lead to disruptions in processing and transportation as well as cost increases. The commission’s raised concerns about USPS slowing some first-class mail and its first-class package service.
A key group behind the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is rebranding. The CMMC Accreditation Body is now the Cyber AB. The independent group is responsible for accrediting organizations and individuals to conduct CMMC assessments of defense contractors. The Cyber AB said the new name is less phonetically challenging and helps differentiate it from the internal Defense Department program office. The Pentagon is still moving forward with the cyber certification program, but is not expecting to publish final rules requiring CMMC assessments until next year.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Langley is nominated as the next chief of U.S. Africa Command. In that position he will be responsible for operations in the Africa area of responsibility. Langley is currently the head of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. He will take over for Army Gen. Stephen Townsend.
The Army laid out its digital transformation and budget priorities for 2023. It’s asking for almost $17 billion for its IT and cybersecurity budget in fiscal 2023. About $2 billion of that is for cybersecurity operations. Raj Iyer, the Army’s CIO, said 2023 is a year of inflection for their digital transformation journey. “Our technologies, our networks, how we get to data centricity, how we address cybersecurity, all of these things need to be addressed from that future threat perspective.” Iyer said investments in cloud, business system modernization and the unified network top his priority list. (Federal News Network)
Women veterans now have more options to get screened for breast cancer. Biden signed two bills into law that will expand veterans’ access to mammograms. One bill expands the eligibility of veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals to get the test. The other bill creates a plan to improve access to breast imaging services in rural areas where the Department of Veterans Affairs does not offer in-house tests. Female veterans are three times more likely to develop invasive breast cancer and it is currently the leading cancer affecting women who served in the military.
A bill to help VA staff up in underserved areas is introduced in the House. The VA Workforce Investment and Expansion Act would require the VA to create a national VA Rural Recruitment and Hiring Plan, and allow the agency to waive pay caps for certain positions to compete with the private sector. The bill would also expanding hiring opportunities for housekeeping aides, which is one of the most understaffed and hardest to hire positions across the VA.