Lawmakers want retired military officers held accountable for jobs with shady foreign clients

In today's Federal Newscast: With the cost of living up, so is the military's Basic Allowance for Housing. Lawmakers want retired military officers held account...

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

  • Military service members will see a hike in their paychecks starting in January. The Defense Department announced the Basic Allowance for Housing will go up by over 12% next year. A combination of inflation and rising prices in the housing market drove the increase in BAH levels. In 2022, BAH rose by 5.1% percent. California military bases saw the largest increases in cost of housing reimbursement. DoD calculates the cost of rents and utilities in different areas to come up with the amount it pays for housing allowances.
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers are demanding that retired military personnel be held accountable if they go to work for foreign governments or companies controlled by foreign governments. A letter sent to the secretaries of Defense and State pointedly called for more oversight in letting retired officers work for foreign governments, some infamous for political oppression and human rights abuses. Retired and reserve military officers need permission from the secretary of their military branch and the State Department to take a job with a foreign government.
  • House lawmakers extended the continuing resolution by one week to give Congress more time to complete the fiscal 2023 omnibus bill. Legislators passed the second continuing resolution 230-201 Wednesday night. The bill will keep the government open until December 23. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill as soon as Thursday afternoon. The current CR expires on Friday.
  • GSA is ready to expand its e-commerce platform program. The General Services Administration is seeking to give agency purchase-card-holders access to more commercial online platforms. A new solicitation released December 13, outlines the need for existing e-commerce platforms to join three others which have have been part of the program since 2020. GSA is looking for platforms that offer a wide range of general products and routine commercial items typically bought through a business-to-business platform. Currently 25 agencies are using the three existing commercial platforms under the program. GSA said it believes agencies spent between $1 billion and $2 billion annually on these commercial products and services. Proposals for this five-year contract are due by January 27.
  • Agency compliance with accessibility requirements is in need of more consistent and stringent oversight. That’s one of the main conclusions of a new report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The majority staff highlighted continued shortcomings in how agencies are not complying with Section 508 requirements. The Democrats made 12 recommendations, including for the Office of Management and Budget to require new Section 508 strategic plans, for agency Inspectors General to increase oversight over accessibility efforts and for Congress to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since the summer, the committee has been pressing agencies, specifically the deVeterans Affairs and Justice, to provide more information about 508 compliance efforts.
  • A bill aimed at preventing conflicts of interest in federal contracting is heading to President Joe Biden’s desk. The House passed the Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act. It requires the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to provide updated guidance to agencies. That guidance will outline the types of relationships contractors might have with domestic or foreign entities that could become an issue when doing business with federal agencies. The bill passed the Senate in August. The Office of Management and Budget said the administration supports the legislation.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to build on pandemic lessons learned to fast-track hiring and onboarding. The VA relied on emergency hiring and bonus authority to bring 85,000 health care workers into the agency within 10 months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency under this authority could hire and onboard employees in as little as three-to-five days. But the Veterans Health Administration’s time-to-hire is now closer to 200 days. Deputy Undersecretary for Health Steven Lieberman said the VHA is still looking at ways to streamline hiring and onboarding to meet its 52,000 employee hiring goal for fiscal 2023. (VA looks to build on Pandemic lessons learned to fast-track hiring, onboardingFederal News Network)
  • Agency officials recently shared some goals for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. The Office of Personnel Management hosted nearly 2,000 feds in a virtual summit to consider future efforts regarding President Biden’s executive order for advancing DEIA. The Biden administration, for example, wants to make federal buildings and federal websites more accessible. They’re also looking at improving hiring and retention of applicants with disabilities. Currently, 17% of the federal workforce identifies as having a disability.
  • The Office of Personnel Management would like agencies to start thinking about how many employees they will need in senior-level positions for the next couple of years. OPM is asking agencies for assessments on their needs for executive resources — including how many Senior Executive Service positions they will  want on their roster. OPM gave agencies a template to fill out to determine their needs for SES positions. Agencies’ requests for SES allocations are due December 31. These assessments are a requirement for agencies to turn into OPM every other year.
  • The Defense Intelligence Agency is embracing artificial intelligence. DIA is on the cusp of releasing its first artificial intelligence strategy. The document will cover the military intelligence agency’s plans for building tools and platforms, adhering to ethical regulations, and working with international partners. But the biggest challenge facing DIA in the AI space is technology talent. “Although we looked at it from different pillars, the most important one is talent and skills,” said Ramesh Menon, chief technology officer at DIA. “How do we attract the best and the brightest, retain them in the intelligence community to enhance our mission capabilities?” (DIA to release AI strategy as Pentagon grapples with tech talent challenges – Federal News Network)
  • Agencies would need to prioritize quantum computing security under a new bill advancing in Congress. The Senate this month passed the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act. It would require the White House to ensure agencies protect their IT systems with post-quantum cryptography. The legislation would build on a White House directive issued last month on migrating to post-quantum standards. The memo directs agencies to make an inventory of high-priority IT systems that could be vulnerable to an encryption-breaking quantum computer.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    (Spokane VA Medical Center Photo)veterans affairs spokane washington, Mann-Grandstaff

    VA looks to build on pandemic lessons learned to fast-track hiring, onboarding

    Read more