Sen. Rubio hammers continued TSP investment in China

Also in today's Federal Newscast, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is criticized for its lack of transparency, and the Pentagon releases its first-ever social-...

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  • Some Senate Republicans are revitalizing concerns over Chinese investments in the Thrift Savings Plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to “reconsider, reverse or amend” TSP investments in Chinese companies. The concerns are over 5,000 new mutual fund options for TSP participants. Rubio previously urged the board to cancel or postpone the launch of the mutual fund window until ensuring no TSP funds had Chinese investments. The board opened the optional mutual fund window on time, and has said investment choices belong only to TSP participants.
  •  Starting on Aug. 24, companies with employees who have security clearances will be able to upload in bulk their reports about workers who have traveled to a foreign country. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) said the new tool will help contractors meet the requirements of Security Executive Agent Directive 3. Contractors who choose to take advantage of the bulk upload tool will submit foreign travel of cleared employees at least every 30 days. At the same time, cleared employees are still required to report foreign travel to their facility security officers. DCSA said there are more than 1 million cleared contractor workers at more than 12,000 sites nationwide.
  • The Postal Service pulled the plug on prior impact studies as new consolidation plans came into focus. USPS said that it is ending “all activity” related to 57 open Area Mail Processing (AMP) studies. The AMP studies are meant to determine whether it makes sense for USPS to relocate or shutter mail processing plants. USPS said it will now “reassess the role of all processing facilities” as part of its 10-year reform plan. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced last month that USPS expects to consolidate 500 facilities that USPS processes and moves mail through down to about 65 to 75 regional hubs. (Federal News Network)
  • The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is working with its union to encourage feds to start early to adopt a new IT system. The office is collaborating with the National Treasury Employees Union to offer rewards to early adopters of a new IT system at the agency. The employee incentives include website recognition and a happy hour with senior leaders. Since the update in June, PTO employees now perform 55% of work in the new system. The deadline for full adoption of the system is Dec. 1.
  • A top artificial intelligence expert in the Trump and Biden administrations is leaving government. Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Lynne Parker, also the director of the White House’s National AI Initiative Office, is returning to academia after six years of federal service. Parker helped stand up the National AI Initiative Office last year to oversee work on a national AI strategy and serve as a research and policy hub between federal agencies, industry and universities.
  • A new report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Inspector General’s office found that informal, nonpublic interactions with external stakeholders reduce transparency and that the NRC needs to develop guidelines. Drop-in meetings are closed to the public and are exempted from certain requirements of public meetings.
  • Circular A-11 is updated so let the 2024 budget development process pick up speed. The Office of Management and Budget offered few new requirements in its latest version of Circular A-11. The annual update released yesterday comes as agencies put the final touches on their fiscal 2024 budget requests. OMB set a Sept. 12 deadline for the submissions. One change requires agencies to report more details on any funding received through the Technology Modernization Fund. Another requires agencies to report solutions-level data about IT investments. This information focuses on the applications, products and services for the business and mission areas.
  • The Labor Department looked to improve compliance with federal wage requirements among contractors. Next month, the department will host seminars targeted at federal contractors, contracting agencies, unions and workers to make sure they’re all familiar with the Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Acts. These govern how contractors pay their employees, and stipulate that they must be paid no less than the locally prevailing wages.
  • The Pentagon has published its first-ever policy on how military public affairs offices should use their official social media accounts. In issuing the overarching guidance, officials said they saw a need to make sure all of DoD’s official accounts meet high ethical and professional standards.
  • The Coast Guard is looking to train its next group of certified diversity and inclusion “change agents.” Change agents lead training and coach leaders on the meaning of diversity, equity and inclusion and how they relate to privilege, oppression and identity. They also teach leaders how to create safe spaces to discuss topics like race, ethnicity, gender, disability and class. Anyone who is active duty, a reservist, a civilian or auxiliarist can apply to the six-month program to become a Coast Guard change agent.
  • Service members now have a one-stop-shop for all the information they need about abortion care after the latest Supreme Court ruling. The question-and-answer page tries to inform service members about any questions they might have now that Roe vs. Wade is no longer applicable. The document tells service members who are eligible for abortions at military treatment facilities, what abortions are covered by TRICARE and what protections medical providers have. The page also tells service members where they can find free contraceptives.

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