Union organizers now allowed on GSA-owned property to interact with contractors

In today's Federal Newscast: Union organizers are now allowed on GSA-owned property to chat up private contractors. The vaccine mandate for federal employees is...

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  • The General Services Administration will now allow union organizers to access government facilities. The rule change will give unions the chance to interact with private sector government contractors on-site at GSA-owned properties. The White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment recommended the change, which updates a rule that prohibited soliciting, posting and distributing materials on GSA property.
  • The White House expects fiscal 2023 to start with a continuing resolution from Congress. The Biden administration, counting on that stopgap CR, is asking Congress to pass $47 billion in emergency spending that can’t wait until it gets a full budget deal done. Nearly half of that would go toward the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the rollout of updated booster shots, just approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and restarting a program to deliver free COVID-19 rapid tests to households. The spending would also go toward Ukraine, treating the monkeypox outbreak and preparing for natural disasters. (Federal News Network)
  • President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees is being challenged by some lawmakers, as 38 members of Congress are formally urging an appeals court to rule against it. The mandate is currently on hold while the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case. In a friend of the court brief filed last week, 10 Republican senators and 28 House members argued the mandate intrudes on the constitutional separation of powers and violates federal employees’ religious liberty. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit previously ruled in favor of the mandate. The full court is now reconsidering that decision.
  • One of the Commerce Department’s major IT programs is about to go under the magnifying glass. The Commerce Department awarded a $340 million contract more than two years ago to modernize and integrate financial and business systems. Now the agency’s inspector general is taking a closer look at the program’s progress. The IG announced its objective is to assess the department’s efforts in managing and implementing the business application solution program. Commerce called BAS one of the top departmental priorities. It will bring together commercial technologies, including an enterprise data warehouse, an acquisition management system, cybersecurity and business intelligence reporting tools in the cloud.
  • The due date for bids to get on the small business-focused Polaris governmentwide acquisition contract has been extended for a third time. The General Services Administration announced small businesses now have until September 23 — that’s an extra 14 days — to complete their proposals. The agency did not announce why it was extending the due date this time. Previously the extensions were needed because GSA said there were continued problems with submitting bids through the SAM.gov platform.
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency has a new plan to manage its data as a strategic asset. DISA’s first-ever Data Strategy Implementation Plan aims to restructure the agency’s current data stores into something more cohesive and coherent, and eventually apply advanced analytics to that data. DISA built the roadmap after DoD’s chief data officer told Defense components to figure out their own roles in implementing the broader department’s data strategy.
  • Two tech giants are going to battle again over a billion-dollar cloud contract. Microsoft filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office late last month over a task order the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarded to Amazon Web Services. NGA awarded the deal under the CIA’s Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) contract. The task order covers all of NGA’s requirements under the C2E contract. GAO has until December 5 to make a decision on Microsoft’s protest.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is poised to modernize its contact centers. A $6.6 billion, 10-year contract award went to Maximus Federal Services. The contact centers will handle over 35 million customer inquiries a year for CMS programs through services like 1-800 MEDICARE and the Health Insurance Marketplace. The center will offer a variety of 24/7 services including telephone, mail, email, fax and web chat.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration wants to make it easier for agencies to preserve official texts and other digital messages. NARA is looking at expanding the Capstone email program to texts, chats and other digital communications. The Capstone guidance provides a systematic, automated framework for preserving official email records. But agencies do not have that same approach for the numerous other forms of electronic communication, especially since COVID-19 forced most agencies to adopt virtual workplace tools. NARA is also considering how artificial intelligence can help manage an ever-expanding number of digital records. (Federal News Network)
  • The VA is changing its policy on abortions after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade earlier this year. The VA will begin providing covered abortions at its facilities, opening medical options to some veterans in states where abortion is now illegal. Covered abortions only pertain to medical necessity and instances of rape or incest. The VA’s new policy also extends protections for its healthcare workers who assist in providing an abortion, shielding them from any state laws. More than 20 senators called on the VA in late July to offer abortion services after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.  (Federal News Network)
  • LGBTQ children with military parents are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and consider suicide, according to a study by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on LGBTQ youth. The study states that LGBTQ children with military parents are juggling multiple stressors like frequent moves and parents who are deployed. There are about 1.7 million children with a parent in the military. An estimated 5% of those children are LGBTQ. (Federal News Network)

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