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A couple of hundred federal employees received the highest award for the career civil service. President Joe Biden picked 233 employees in the Senior Executive Service for the 2022 Presidential Rank Awards. This year, the prestigious award recognizes the work of career SES employees across 33 different agencies. The 2022 winners include an Agriculture Department employee who created a distribution system for Personal Protective Equipment during the pandemic and an Education Department employee who led the transition to zero-emissions electric vehicles. It is the second consecutive year that the rank awards are back, after a one-year hiatus of the program during 2020. (Biden picks 233 civil service leaders for the 2022 Presidential Rank Awards – Federal News Network)
A record number of protests will delay the next mega governmentwide acquisition contract. The CIO-SP4 IT services contract from the NIH IT Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) is facing more than 100 protests at the Government Accountability Office. GAO said 117 vendors submitted complaints based on the self-scoring system that NITAAC used for CIO-SP4. NITAAC told the vendors who didn’t make the downselect over the last two weeks and offered debriefings. But the unsuccessful bidders filed a record number of protests anyways. NITAAC said it still hopes to make the first round of awards for the governmentwide acquisition contract, which has a $50 billion ceiling, by December 15.
The Biden administration is asking Congress to add more money for the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services in fiscal 2023 than initially requested. The Office of Management and Budget said HHS needs $10 billion more to continue to deal with the COVID pandemic, including preparing for a possible surge of cases this winter. OMB is also asking for almost $38 billion more to support Ukraine with money going to DoD, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The administration also said it will send an additional request to Congress for more money for disaster relief in the coming weeks.
A federal advocacy group is urging the Office of Personnel Management to fully remove consideration of salary history in federal recruitment. OPM has said it plans to address the use of salary history in both the hiring and pay-setting processes. But the Department of Justice Gender Equality Network (DOJ-GEN) wants OPM to go a step further. The group said agencies should not be allowed to consider salary history, even if an applicant chooses to share that information. DOJ-GEN said the full elimination would help close the gender pay gap.
The White House is marking new progress in the effort to draw new talent into the cybersecurity field. The Department of Veterans Affairs is establishing the first civilian federal cybersecurity apprenticeship program. The first cohort of up to 10 apprentices will begin at the agency in February 2023. The VA program is one result of the Biden administration’s cybersecurity apprenticeship sprint launched this past summer. The White House said 194 new cybersecurity registered apprenticeship programs across the public and private sectors are being established as a result of the effort.
The Veterans Affairs Department is ramping up hiring to implement the PACT Act. The Veterans Benefits Administration set a goal of hiring nearly 2,100 claims processors this spring. The first cohort of these hires is onboard at VBA and is going through agency training. But VBA Chief Financial Officer Charles Tapp said the agency plans to bring on several thousand more full-time hires to process PACT Act claims. “We’re looking at the volume of claims we’re anticipating and then aligning the size of our workforce accordingly,” Tapp said. VBA received more than 145,000 PACT Act claims so far and will begin adjudicating them at the start of 2023. (VA hiring to ‘maximum capacity’ to assist vets seeking PACT Act benefits – Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking corrective action after disclosing the COVID-19 vaccination status of more than half a million employees. The American Federation of Government Employees National VA Council said the VA has agreed to provide remedial training to health care operation center employees on compliance with the Privacy Act. The agency also agreed to send a notice to employees that an unauthorized disclosure of their personal information occurred. VA’s actions settled a national grievance AFGE filed in October 2021.
The Secret Service is receiving some new cybersecurity advice. The Government Accountability Office reported that the agency has not yet addressed long-standing requirements to use modern internet protocols for all its public-facing systems. And GAO said the Secret Service should update its zero trust implementation plan to account for a new White House strategy issued earlier this year. The Secret Service agreed to implement GAO’s recommendations.