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Customs and Border Protection is pledging to increase the number of women in its ranks. CBP announced its commitment to the 30-by-30 initiative this week. The agency’s goal is to reach 30% of women in its recruit classes by 2030. CBP said it is the first agency in the Department of Homeland Security to join the pledge. Women make up about 21% of CBP’s total staff and just 18% of those hired for frontline entry-level positions, according to a report to Congress in 2021.
Rates of suicide across the military have shown a decrease in the past 18 months after a servicewide effort to address mental health problems and remove the stigma of seeking help. The Air Force and Marine Corps saw drops of about 30% in suicides last year, and the Army saw a similar drop in the first half of this year, according to a new report from the Pentagon. The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all had slightly higher suicide rates in the first half of this year, casting doubt on whether there is a clear downward trend. (Federal News Network)
Federal workforce engagement steadied a bit, according to the latest edition of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. After a couple tumultuous years following the COVID-19 pandemic, results from the 2022 FEVS show a governmentwide employee engagement score of 71%. The score is the same as it was last year, but a 1% drop compared with 2020. The FEVS, conducted annually by the Office of Personnel Management, had a 35% response rate this year, down nearly 10% from 2020. (Federal News Network)
Vendors got their first look at the next governmentwide mega IT services contract from GSA. The draft solicitation for the Alliant 3 governmentwide acquisition contract is following a similar path as its predecessors. GSA released its initial thinking about the next version of the highly popular contract yesterday. The draft Alliant 3 solicitation would continue to follow the federal enterprise architecture framework, as well as the DoD enterprise architecture framework to serve as the basis for the services and technologies included on the contract. One big difference, however, is GSA is using its authority under Section 876 to not have a dollar ceiling on the main contract or on task orders. Comments on the draft RFP are due by January 6.
The Census Bureau survived more than 2.1 trillion cyber attacks during the first six months the online response system went into production in 2020. Skip Bailey, the Census deputy chief information officer, said the last decennial count repelled all attacks and lost no data. Now, Census is planning on moving five key systems to the cloud as it prepares for the 2030 count. These systems are focused on the bureau’s key mission of collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about people and the U.S. economy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to mitigate ongoing workplace discrimination and harassment issues, but it’s not quite firing on all cylinders. Although FEMA mandates anti-harassment training for its employees, the training does not fully explain how to file a discrimination complaint. The Government Accountability Office said the training only addresses discrimination in office settings, even though many FEMA employees work in field locations. GAO recommended that along with updating its training, FEMA should ensure employees who make harassment claims hear back if corrective action is actually taken.
A Social Security Administration union is seeking emergency funding from Congress to rebuild its depleted workforce. The American Federation of Federal Employees Council 220 is asking Congress for $16.5 billion in emergency funding to support SSA for the rest of fiscal 2023. More than half the funding would go toward hiring more employees. The agency’s workforce of 60,000 employees marks a 25-year low and has 4,000 fewer employees than it had a decade ago. The union is also seeking a more flexible telework policy on the grounds that employees are more productive working from home. (Federal News Network)
Agencies may get some relief on an upcoming digital records deadline. The National Archives is proposing an 18-month extension for agencies to transition to full electronic recordkeeping. The deadline is currently the end of this calendar year. But that goal has been tripped up by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to issue a revised memo that extends the targets and keeps the goals in place so that we can continue doing the good work that we’ve been doing for the last several years,” said U.S. chief records officer Laurence Brewer.
Seven agency watchdogs are flagging workforce issues as a common hurdle for federal agencies responding to natural disasters. A review of IG reports on natural disasters since June 2015 shows that a lack of skilled federal response staff came up in 40% of them. The review was led by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s Disaster Assistance Working Group. The review also found that short-staffing at FEMA reduced its ability to detect fraud.
The Pentagon will increase protections for service members and their dependents who seek abortions. The new policy sets guidelines to prohibit local commanders from restricting or influencing decisions about access to reproductive health care for troops in their chain of command. It also affirmed the policy of allowing travel for access to abortion services. After a Supreme Court decision in June that opened the door for states to pass their own abortion laws, the Pentagon is allowing service members to take medical leave to travel for abortions. (Federal News Network)