More ways for feds with student loan debt to get a break from payments

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Feds with student debt may soon see some expanded opportunities for loan forgiveness. The Education Department will add more permanent changes to its Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Starting next July, borrowers with direct loans or Federal Family Education Loans can get PSLF credit for every month they spent paying off debt — even if they...

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Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

  • Feds with student debt may soon see some expanded opportunities for loan forgiveness. The Education Department will add more permanent changes to its Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Starting next July, borrowers with direct loans or Federal Family Education Loans can get PSLF credit for every month they spent paying off debt — even if they made partial or late payments. Borrowers will also get credit for some deferments and forbearances, such as time spent in military service. The permanent changes build on similar ones in a temporary PSLF waiver, which expires October 31.
  • The State Department is facing calls to fire a diplomat for allegedly posting anti-Semitic content online. The American Federation of Government Employees is calling for the removal of a Foreign Service officer allegedly running a website that features anti-Semitic content. AFGE and the American Foreign Service Association say their members have workplace safety concerns. The House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism is also leading 75 lawmakers in calling on the State Department to fire the employee. A State Department spokeswoman says the agency can’t comment on individual personnel matters, but takes these allegations seriously. (Federal News Network)
  • The American Federation of Government Employees heightens calls to renegotiate its national contract with the Social Security Administration. Although AFGE and SSA previously agreed to restore official time for union activities, AFGE still urges SSA to consider changing other parts of the contract, by maximizing telework, establishing a remote work policy and creating an equitable performance appraisal system. Currently SSA field office workers can telework two days a week and teleservice center employees can telework four days a week. (Federal News Network)
  • A Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Las Vegas is giving Advanced Practice Registered Nurses a 12% pay raise. Local VA management says the pay raise will go into effect by next pay period. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1224 pressed the VA to conduct market pay surveys, but management held off on this work since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The union says management offered the pay raise if its members held off on a rally to protest their low pay rates compared to the private sector.
  • The National Institutes of Health IT Acquisition and Assessment Center or NITAAC is extending the popular CIO-SP3 contract another two months. NITAAC says the IT services governmentwide acquisition contract will now expire on January 6th instead of November 1st. The agency says the extra two months will ensure there are no breaks in services as NITAAC continues to work on awarding the follow-on contract, CIO-SP4. Over the last few weeks, NITAAC has started notifying those vendors who didn’t make the first cut. Final awards are expected before the January 6th expiration date of CIO-SP3.
  • The Navy looks to create more opportunities for small businesses. The branch will break up five large contracts into smaller awards this year to create more competition for small and disadvantaged businesses. The Navy spent $18.4 billion on small business prime contracts last year. But Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro says he wants to reverse a trend of bundling contracts into one large award. “We have to have healthy competition across all sectors in order to build efficiencies for the American taxpayer,” Del Toro said at an Oct. 25 “Naval IT Day” hosted by AFCEA NOVA.
  • A big change to federal acquisition regulations takes effect tomorrow. The FAR Council is amending the rules to make clear that when big and small companies work in a mentor-protégé program, they’ll be allowed to compete as a joint venture for small business set-aside contracts. The government’s System for Award Management isn’t quite ready to accommodate that change though. So for the time being, contracting officers will have to manually update their solicitations to make sure those joint ventures are eligible for small business awards.
  • The intelligence community is investing in automated declassification technologies. That’s according to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. In a letter to lawmakers, Haines writes that spy agencies support White House efforts to reform the classification system. Haines says the current system favors over-classification and harms national security. She says intelligence agencies will continue to make investments to improve the declassification process.
  • USCIS is moving out once again ahead of the technology curve. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in DHS has about 95% of all applications in the cloud. It was on the zero trust journey well before there was a bandwagon. Now, USCIS is about to strike first again by hiring a director of user experience. Rob Brown, the USCIS CTO, says the agency started creating the position description about a year ago. He says the person will be responsible for research, ensuring standards and creating a center of excellence focused on user and customer experience. (Federal News Network)
  • New regulations from the Justice Department officially bans the agency from seizing reporters records. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the revisions yesterday. DOJ says the regulations codify the policy announced by Garland in his memorandum last year, after it was reported that the Trump administration had attempted to take records from reporters of major news organizations.

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