CBP’s $17 billion budget means a bigger focus on the border

In today's Federal Newscast: A $17 billion dollar budget for CBP means a bigger border focus. The Merit Systems Protection Board releases a report on sexual har...

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  • The Merit Systems Protection Board released a long-awaited report on sexual harassment at federal agencies. About 14% of federal employees have experienced sexual harassment, according to an MSPB report published this week. But MSPB collected that data years ago, between 2014 and 2016. Although MSPB had the sexual harassment findings ready to publish by 2018, it could not release the report without first establishing a quorum. The board finally regained a quorum this past spring, after five years without it. MSPB will soon release more reports on the state of the federal workforce.
  • Customs and Border Protection would see its ranks swell under the fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill, giving it a total of nearly $17 billion dollars. The legislation would allocate $60 million to hire 125 new CBP officers, 250 technicians and 250 support staff. It also would allocate $88.2 million to increase CBP’s personnel capacity at the border between ports of entry. And it would spend $30.2 million on border technology and $69.9 million for non-intrusive inspection systems.
  • The White House national cyber director’s office is getting its first regular budget. The fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill includes $22 million for the cyber director’s office. It had previously been funded through emergency appropriations. The office was established last year, and has been quickly growing as officials develop a new national cyber strategy. But CNN reported this week that National Cyber Director Chris Inglis plans to step down in the next two months. The station reported Deputy National Cyber Director Kemba Waldon is expected to serve as acting director after Inglis departs.
  • One more agency joins the ranks of the few with new IT modernization authorities. NASA is the latest agency to receive approval from Congress to establish an IT working capital fund as authorized under the Modernizing Government Technology Act. In the fiscal 2023 omnibus bill, lawmakers gave the space agency the ability to create a new working capital fund to help pay for IT modernization efforts. The other agencies to have received approval for MGT Act IT working capital funds are the Small Business Administration and the Office of Personnel Management. Several others have asked for authority, including Treasury, Labor and USAID, but have not won permission.
  • The National Science Foundation is coming under pressure from two senators for how it will protect the National Secure Data Service platform. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) wrote to the NSF director asking for more details about how the agency will use technologies to protect an individual entity’s data. The lawmakers encourage NSF to require agencies to encrypt the information using an encryption key only they control.
  • The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is looking for feedback on whether it should amend or repeal a rule on how federal employees pay their union dues. A previous process let feds who had voluntarily agreed to automatic paycheck deductions revoke that agreement only during a specific window of time. But a 2020 regulation changed that policy. In response, the National Treasury Employees Union sought to return the regulations to the original timeframe. The FLRA proposed rule will remain open to public comments through January 20.
  • Transportation Security Administration employees are in line for a pay raise. The fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill includes $398 million for TSA’s pay equity initiative. That would bring transportation security officer salaries in line with the rest of the federal workforce. TSA Administrator David Pekoske told employees the funding would kick in next July. The Biden administration has also pushed to bring TSA employees under the Title 5 personnel system. But the Senate has yet to take up a House-passed bill that would do just that. Still, lawmakers said the funding represents the biggest advancement for the workforce in TSA’s history.
  • A comprehensive spending bill is rethinking federal office space needs and building security. The fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill directs the General Services Administration to provide regular briefings to the House and Senate appropriations committees on how agencies can reduce their office space requirements based on the lessons learned from telework during the COVID-19 pandemic. The spending bill also gives the Federal Protective Service $2 billion. Part of that funding goes to installing security cameras and alarm systems at federal buildings owned by GSA. (Omnibus bill rethinks federal office space needs, ramps up building security – Federal News Network)
  • Military spouses face a series of road blocks to getting a new job when they relocate. A set of agreements for interstate licensure would smooth the way for those spouses to get credentialed in their new location. One-third of  spouses have to apply for new professional licensing every time they move to a new state. The Defense Department wants to make that part of the equation easier. Among seven different licensing agreements put forward by DoD is an interstate teacher mobility compact. State approvals for the programs will start in 2023.
  • The Biden administration is getting its first permanent head of federal regulations. The Senate confirmed Richard Revesz to serve as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. OIRA reviews draft agency rulemaking and promotes public participation in the federal rulemaking process. Six previous OIRA administrators sent the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee a letter in September recommending Revesz for the post.
  • The Software and Digital Technology Pilot Program has finally made some headway with funding in the 2023 omnibus budget. The pilot, which is designed to streamline and speed up the way the Defense Department buys software, funds 10 programs which will get their allotted funds for IT in a bucket called “colorless money.” Congress did not provide any new funding for the pilot in 2022. Traditionally, spending for software would have to follow a template designed for a weapons procurement, which would separate funding into different categories that don’t align well with software purchases.

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