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President Joe Biden signed the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act into law. About half that spending will go to climate and energy projects. The Postal Service gets $3 billion to spend on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The General Services Administration gets more than $3 billion to invest in low-carbon emission construction materials and technologies that will make federal buildings more sustainable. Biden said the legislation will help his administration meet its green-government goals. “This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever. It’s going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of my climate goals,” Biden said.
The Inflation Reduction Act promises the IRS $80 billion to help staff up over the next decade, but Congress said current hiring efforts are in trouble. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) joined Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) in saying the IRS is not on track to hire 10,000 new employees by the end of next year. The agency, so far, is less than halfway to its goal of hiring 5,000 employees before the end of this calendar year. Meanwhile, the agency has about 1 million more paper tax returns in its backlog than it did at this same point last year. The lawmakers are leading 89 of their congressional colleagues in a letter outlining their concerns to the IRS.
The Office of Personnel Management is reaffirming some diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals for federal agencies. OPM Director Kiran Ahuja met with leaders from the National Organization of Blacks in Government in Cleveland, Ohio, this week. The employee resource group provides support to rising Black leaders across the federal government. Ahuja said she hopes the priorities in the President’s Management Agenda will create more federal opportunities for underserved groups and communities.
Agencies have less than a week to start easing a few COVID-19 policies. The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force said by Aug. 22, agencies should stop any COVID-19 screenings that differentiate based on vaccination status. The task force told agencies to stop asking individuals if they’re vaccinated when coming to federal facilities. When exposed to COVID-19, those who aren’t fully vaccinated should now follow the same safety procedures as those who are. The changes align with a CDC update that eased COVID-19 guidelines. (Federal News Network)
Congress is investigating assault and harassment in the military’s Junior ROTC programs. The House Oversight and Reform Committee informed the Defense Department that it’s looking into how the Pentagon oversees investigations of sexual assault, hazing and harassment in the programs. Over the last five years, prosecutors have brought charges against at least 33 instructors related to sexual misconduct.
The General Services Administration is losing a key technology leader. Dave Zvenyach, the deputy commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service and the director of the Technology Transformation Service, is leaving on Sept. 9. He returned to GSA after a three-year absence in January 2021 to help further IT modernization efforts. Lauren Bracey Scheidt will be the acting TTS director until the GSA administrator appoints a new permanent one. She has been deputy director of TTS since May and previously worked at 18F. This was Zvenyach’s second tour at GSA. He served as executive director at 18F, assistant commissioner of the Office of System Management and in other roles from 2015 to 2018. (Federal News Network)
The Army is once again delaying its flagship pay and personnel program. The Integrated Personnel and Pay System–Army is supposed to make pay and benefits easier for soldiers and give them a talent marketplace to show off their skills. However, the system is getting bogged down once again by technical issues. The Army said the third release of the program will be delayed due to readiness issues and failed stress tests. The third release of the system is supposed to give all Army components essential personnel and talent services. The Army already delayed this iteration of the program by nearly a year last October.
Seven law enforcement agencies are facing pressure from Capitol Hill over how they buy and use citizen data from companies. The Justice Department, along with the FBI, the DEA and the ATF, and the Department of Homeland Security, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, must provide House lawmakers documents and details about the data they’re buying from companies like data brokers. Two chairmen, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) of the House Homeland Security Committee and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) of the Judiciary Committee, want answers and documents by August 30. The lawmakers are concerned that improper acquisition of this data can impact statutory and constitutional protections designed to safeguard Americans’ due process rights.
The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with adding new technologies to the public alert warning system. The technologies include using GPS navigation applications for evacuation routes and safety zones. These would be communicated to the public’s vehicles in near real time. DHS also tested technologies to display hazard and evacuation alert information on the “infotainment” screens in vehicles.
For the first time in the Department of Defense’s history, one military branch is in control of all military satellite communication functions. The Army transferred control of its satellite communications mission to the Space Force during a ceremony on Monday. The ceremony transferred around 200 civilians and 300 military personnel from serving in the Army to the Space Force. The satellite communications constellations provide information to everyone from the president to interagency and international partners conducting global operations. The 53rd Space Operations Squadron is now the only DoD organization that will conduct payload and transmission controls for the satellites. In June, the Navy transferred more than a dozen satellites and additional personnel to the Space Force. (Federal News Network)
FEMA is rallying community and faith-based leaders as hurricane season kicks into gear. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said local leaders’ efforts are more important than ever in disaster recovery. To that end, Criswell highlighted changes FEMA has made including updating its FEMA App, a personalized disaster resource to empower citizens to take charge of any disaster they face. Criswell met with faith-based and community leaders to help citizens before a natural disaster occurs by sharing hurricane preparedness and response information.