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More funds for the Department of Homeland Security’s consolidated campus are coming into focus. The fiscal 2023 spending bills making their way through the House would give $580 million to the DHS St. Elizabeth’s West Campus. The proposed funding is split between DHS and the General Services Administration. The St. Elizabeth’s campus has been a work in progress for than a decade, and is the largest federal building project since the Pentagon. The project has secured more than $2 billion in congressional spending so far.
Senate lawmakers want to ensure two Homeland Security offices are permanent fixtures at DHS. A new bipartisan bill would re-authorize the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. It would also codify the responsibilities of DHS’s Office of Health Security. The bill would also require the CWMD office to submit reports to Congress on the strategy to counter weapons of mass destruction and other emerging threats. The legislation is being led by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The IRS needs more consistent funding from Congress to dig out from pandemic-era challenges, replenish and modernize its workforce, an advisory panel told Congress. The Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee finds the IRS experienced over 100 continuing resolutions since 2001. The committee tells Congress that funding uncertainty forces the agency to opt for more expensive, less effective, short-term hiring and IT solutions IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, whose five-year term ends in November, says the agency went to extraordinary lengths to deliver $1.5 trillion in pandemic aid. “I think that history will be very polite to the Internal Revenue Service, and to everybody who’s helped the Internal Revenue Service during this period of time.” (Federal News Network)
Six of seven metrics on federal customer service declined last quarter. The latest data from the Office of Management and Budget shows customer satisfaction, confidence and trust, and employee helpfulness were among the areas that dropped for the 35 High Impact Service Providers. The one metric that saw progress was around equity and transparency. These HISPs collect customer feedback after the citizen has completed their business with the agency. OMB released an update to the President’s Management Agenda earlier this month. This included updates on cross-agency goals like customer experience as well as individual agency goals.
Standout Freedom of Information Act agencies are offering best practices to improve the public information request process. Among the recommendations from FEMA, the Postal Service and the FBI is for public information officers to be proactive in letting requestors know when estimated completion dates on requests are pushed back. FOIA mandates agencies provide estimated completion dates to the requester. Many agencies have had issues providing them. Other recommendations include connecting PIOs with agency leadership to expedite the process and releasing a list of frequently requested records. (Federal News Network)
Federal employees still have the chance to help improve the Freedom of Information Act process. The Office of Government Information Services is extending the deadline for new members to apply to the FOIA Federal Advisory Committee to July 15 instead of June 30. OGIS is looking for nominations from at least three cabinet level and three non-cabinet level agencies. The committee is made up of 20 members who serve two-year terms and attend monthly meetings to discuss possible improvements to the FOIA process.
The Interior Department made a major award as part of its network modernization effort. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Education is bringing high-speed internet to 64 reservations across 13 states. BIE awarded Verizon a 10-year contract that could be worth as much as $147 million under GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS program. Under the task order, schools in states such as Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and others will gain access to 1 gigabyte internet connections. This is up from the 100 megabyte connections implemented over the last decade. Verizon expects the upgrades to be completed by the end of 2023.
The Marine Corps wants the information domain to be a big part of how it thinks about warfighting from now on. The Corps formalized a new publication yesterday that makes “information” a core component of the service’s doctrine. Marine Corps Publication 8, as it’s called, tries to make sure individual Marines and commanders build communication, cyber, and other considerations into all of their combat and and training plans. Officials say they want the new doctrine to be a “living document” that continues to evolve alongside changes in communications technologies and warfighting realities.
The Navy conducted its first-ever exercise focused on response to events caused by climate change. Imagine you’re a sailor in 2030 conducting an exercise on an island nation in the western Pacific. Suddenly, a typhoon changes course and completely bungles the operation. That’s what Navy officials, think tank experts and industry thought through this week as they considered how climate change might impact future operations. The Navy and the Defense Department are taking into account extreme weather as climate change is making more of an impact on installations, weapons and operations. The Navy says it plans to build climate contingencies into future training and to conduct more operations focused on climate events. (Federal News Network)
Maj. Gen. Philip Garrant was tapped as the Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations for strategy, plans, programs and requirements. The new position would involve a promotion to lieutenant general. Garrant would replace Lt. Gen. William Liquori. Garrant currently serves as the program executive for ground-based weapons systems at the Missile Defense Agency.
Federal hiring managers are trying to focus more on applicant’s skills, rather than where they learned them. Jenny Yang, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, says agencies are starting to reexamine degree requirements for job openings. Yang adds that eliminating educational requirements can expand applicant pools, a common federal hiring issue. She joined an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission workshop series, addressing challenges that prevent underrepresented communities from accessing jobs. The Office of Personnel Management has also posted guidance to help agencies recruit more diverse candidates.
A new report suggests the national security community reexamine how it recruits and clears people with foreign ties. The security clearance process may be unnecessarily preventing people with foreign backgrounds from serving in national security positions. That’s the crux of a new white paper from the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. INSA suggests investigators take a more granular approach to evaluating factors like foreign family members and dual citizenship. INSA vice president of policy Larry Hanauer. “Investigators are never going to be able to learn everything they want to know about a candidate’s uncle in rural China somewhere, but they can assess whether such a family tie really affects a candidate’s loyalties or creates security risks that can’t be mitigated,” Hanauer said. (Federal News Network)
The American Federation of Government Employees says agencies should better compensate feds seeking an abortion. Federal workers can use sick leave to travel for medical care under current policy from the Office of Personnel Management. But AFGE says the federal government should do more, and instead provide paid administrative leave. That’s for federal employees who live in states with restricted, or now banned, abortion access. The union is part of a growing number of organizations calling to expand paid medical leave for feds, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week.