New data shows feds’ pay is lagging even more behind private sector counterparts

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The American Federation of Government Employees filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency over remote work policies. AFGE Local 704, which represents EPA workers in Chicago, said EPA employees in Region 5 are being denied remote work at a higher rate than other regions. EPA Region 5 covers several states in the upper Midwest. AFGE said...

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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.

  • The American Federation of Government Employees filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency over remote work policies. AFGE Local 704, which represents EPA workers in Chicago, said EPA employees in Region 5 are being denied remote work at a higher rate than other regions. EPA Region 5 covers several states in the upper Midwest. AFGE said it filed Freedom of Information Act requests to understand the reasoning behind the agency’s remote work decisions. But AFGE said the agency is “withholding” the responses.
  • Federal employees are seeing a growing gap in salary compared with the private sector. New data from the Federal Salary Council showed that feds earn about 24% less, on average, than their private sector counterparts. That’s higher than the pay gap of about 22.5% in 2021. In response, the National Treasury Employees Union is calling for a higher pay raise for feds in 2023, of 5.1%. That’s 0.5% higher than the White House’s pay raise request of 4-point-6 percent.
  • Over 50 organizations called on Congress to prevent the possible return of Schedule F. In a letter to top House and Senate officials, the groups urged them to pass language in a bill to block any future Schedule F-type policy. The House has passed the Preventing a Patronage System Act, a bill aiming to prevent Schedule F. And the Senate has introduced companion legislation. Similar language is also included in the House’s fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The now-revoked Trump-era executive order would have made 50,000 feds in policy-related roles at-will workers.
  • Defense Department acquisition officials once again have a little more leeway in deciding what types of contracts to issue to vendors. In the 2017 version of the Defense authorization bill, Congress tried to make fixed-price contracts the norm, and set up a special approval system for any cost-type contracts worth more than $25 million. Lawmakers undid that restriction in the 2022 NDAA. The DoD regulations completely repealing it took effect on Friday.
  • Newly-released details from an inspector general report show the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence & analysis branch compiled extensive dossiers on American citizens who took part in the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, Oregon two years ago. The “baseball cards,” as DHS officials called them, culled personal details from social media, public records and other sources in an effort to figure out who was “masterminding” the protests. The IG said the practice went well beyond DHS’ usual practice of building those dossiers only for people with connections to domestic terrorism. The report said the volume of new reports overwhelmed DHS staff — several objected to the new process, and numerous employees left the agency because of burnout.
  • The Biden administration chose a 36-year career veteran as the acting commissioner of the IRS starting Nov. 12.  Douglas O’Donnell will take over for current Commissioner Charles Rettig when his term ends. O’Donnell currently is the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement. Prior to that role, he served as the commissioner of the IRS large business and international division for nearly six years. O’Donnell started his career as a revenue agent in 1986. Rettig has been IRS commissioner for five years and led the tax agency through the pandemic where the IRS sent out $931 billion in relief payments.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs announced three new funding opportunities to help homeless veterans. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program will work to quickly rehouse veterans and their families as well as help prevent the imminent loss of a veteran’s home. VA is also funding two other grant opportunities through their Grant and Per Diem program. These provide veterans with transitional housing and case management. At a media roundtable event on Thursday, VA officials said that they are on track to meet their goal of finding permanent housing for 38,000 homeless veterans, and that they believe they will exceed that goal.
  • The GSA has an idea to finally bridge the valley of death for small businesses. Companies in the Small Business Innovation Research Program have often struggled to get production contracts after receiving two rounds of seed money. The General Services Administration is working on a new way to make it easier for agencies to award contracts to these innovative small firms. Jim Ghiloni, a group manager at FedSIM, said they are doing market research to see about creating a new contract vehicle. While still in the initial stages, Ghiloni envisions the contract, tentatively called Research Innovation and Outcomes or RIO, to allow for direct awards to SBIR firms. GSA hopes to finish market research and get a draft solicitation out the door by next spring. GSA made over $1 billion dollars in total awards to firms in the SBIR program in 2021.
  • Several national laboratories and universities will receive funding from the Energy Department to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of elements critical for making batteries. The $39 million fund comes as the Biden administration puts a focus on the importance of having a domestic supply of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements to make batteries which are critical for renewable energy systems. The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency and Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery program will oversee these projects.

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