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Members of Congress are calling on the Postal Service to do more to respond to increased attacks on its employees. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) join Rep. Sean (D-Ill.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.) in voicing their concerns to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Postal Inspection Service found nationwide reports of mail carrier robberies have more than tripled in recent years, from 80 robberies in 2018 to more than 260 in 2021. The lawmakers said USPS recently stopped a nationwide outreach campaign meant to notify employees what to do when a crime is committed in their vicinity.
The Commerce and Labor departments are teaming up for a 120-day cybersecurity hiring sprint. The two agencies plan to use “registered apprenticeships” to try to recruit and retain a more diverse cybersecurity workforce nationwide. The departments will also work with the National Cyber Director’s office to bring in employers, unions, community organizations and others for the effort. The agencies are aiming to establish more registered apprenticeship programs and encourage others to join already-existing programs. The apprenticeship hiring sprint will continue through mid-November.
Federal first responders are one step closer to securing their retirement benefits, even after getting injured. In a unanimous vote, the House passed the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act. The bill would let disabled first responders continue receiving their same federal retirement benefits. The legislation covers officers in law enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, as well as federal firefighters. Current law mandates federal first responders to retire by age 57, but the bill would apply retirement benefits equally, even for those who get injured. The legislation now moves to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for consideration.
President Joe Biden ordered federal agencies to increase their efforts to bring home wrongfully detained American citizens. In the new executive order, Biden declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual threat to national security, foreign policy and the economy that arises when Americans are held hostage abroad. The EO expands the tools to deter hostage taking by creating new ways to impose costs on foreign governments who take hostages. In addition, the administration created a new risk indicator for travel advisories. A “D” will inform travelers of the risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government.
The Defense Department’s F-35 may be the military’s most costly weapons system, but it needs a quicker way to maintain the engine and stock spare parts. A new study from the Government Accountability Office found 6% of the F-35s are unavailable at any given time. The planes are grounded due to engine issues and parts shortages. This left the military without enough F-35s available to conduct operations.
It’s been 15 years since an effort began to digitize immigration forms. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ombudsman is “as optimistic as ever” about the agency’s strategy to fully embrace electronic filing and processing. The ombudsman has been tracking the long-running digitization effort since 2007. In the past year, USCIS was able to introduce online forms for two high-volume immigration benefits, and it has plans to introduce several more over the next year. The ombudsman said a critical factor in the agency’s approach will be introducing an Application Programming Interface so legal organizations and technology vendors can share data with USCIS systems. (Federal News Network)
Intelligence analysts will soon have the opportunity to do a temporary stint in the private sector. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence rolled out a new public-private talent exchange program this month. It will give intel analysts the chance to gain experience at private sector companies. And it will give private sector employees the opportunity to work in the intelligence community. Officials said the idea is to strengthen public-private partnerships, and share ideas on technology and innovation.
The Pentagon picked 10 companies for a new program designed to get small businesses’ innovative technologies out of the “valley of death” and into the DoD procurement system. Congress created the “Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies,” program in this year’s defense authorization bill. Military program offices will get $10-million each to buy technology from the 10 winners.
The IRS is looking to double its IT modernization workload with COVID funds. The agency, halfway through its six-year Integrated Modernization Business Plan, said it’s provided 80 new capabilities and enhancements so far. But with funds from the American Rescue Plan, IRS expects it could double the number of modernization programs it can tackle, starting this fiscal year. The agency expects to publish a second version of its IT modernization plan in the coming months, outlining how the agency will approach the final three years of its IT modernization journey. (Federal News Network)