Biden renominates Gigi Sohn to FCC after failed first confirmation effort

In today's Federal Newscast: The President tries again, 14 months later, to get Gigi Sohn on the FCC. Awash in scandal, Congress calls for more oversight of pri...

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  • The Veterans Affairs Department is looking to industry for help setting competitive pay rates for its health care workers across the country. The VA is looking for contractors that can analyze how its total compensation to health care workers measures up to private-sector pay. VA said it struggles to do this analysis in-house because of HR-department staffing shortages and a lack of market research data on what private health providers pay their staff. Today is the last day the VA is accepting feedback through its request for information.
  • Congress wants more oversight for privatized military housing after years of scandals and quality complaints. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act tells DoD to expand its reports to Congress on all privatized military housing, as well as issuing more updates on maintenance requests and how successfully they have been resolved. (Congress expands oversight for privatized military housing – Federal News Network)
  • The Republican-led House is outlining its top priorities. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said lawmakers will introduce a bill within the next two weeks to eliminate $80 billion for the IRS to spend over the next decade. Congress approved that spending last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. House Republicans in a proposed rules package also plan to ask most committees to come up with a list of federal agencies and programs they would recommend for consolidation or elimination. (House GOP prioritizes end to ‘unnecessary’ federal programs, cutting $80B from IRS – Federal News Network)
  • Agencies can expect to see updated requirements for digital ID verification this year. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is accepting feedback on a draft update to special publication 800-63 laying out Digital Identity Guidelines. The publication includes technical requirements for how federal agencies should verify the digital identities of real people. New updates include performance standards for using biometric information and new phishing resistant authentication methods. NIST is accepting comments on the draft through March 24.
  • President Joe Biden is again trying to break the deadlock at the Federal Communications Commission. The White House announced Biden has renominated Gigi Sohn to serve as the third Democratic commissioner at the five-member FCC. Biden first nominated Sohn to the position in October 2021, but her nomination stalled in the Senate Commerce Committee for, among other reasons, her tweets critical of Fox News. Sohn previously served as counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
  • President Joe Biden has designated the new chairwoman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Susan Tsui Grundmann will take over the role from now former Chairman Ernest DuBester. The Senate confirmed Grundmann to the three-person FLRA board in May 2022. She has previously served as both executive director and chief operating officer at the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, as well as chairwoman of the Merit Systems Protection Board.
  • The Office of Personnel Management has plans to revamp retirement services. The upcoming changes will include building an online retirement application and creating an online retirement calculator. “It would replace a lot of the paperwork. Right now, when somebody decides to retire, they turn in paperwork to their own agency. That could take weeks or even months before it gets to OPM. Improving retirement services is very high on my agenda and my team’s agenda,” said OPM Chief Information Officer Guy Cavallo. Cavallo said his team is also doing a study to see what it would take to move the entire retirement services application to the cloud. (OPM plans to overhaul main website, prioritize customer experience – Federal News Network)
  • Agencies have a new approach to meet the goals of the federal financial management law. A new compliance framework from the Office of Management and Budget gives agencies hopefully a less burdensome way to meet the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. OMB updated Appendix D of Circular A-123 in late December to more closely align with a risk-based approach promoted in the 2016 changes to the circular. The administration said the new Appendix D reflects the move to a shared services environment, the changes in technology and business processes and the ability to assess compliance with respect to agency mission goals.
  • Senators are calling on the Postal Service to address staffing shortages, as a nationwide workforce shortage is leading to delays, according to Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). They are telling Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to come up with a new plan for recruiting and retention. The senators are asking USPS whether it is able to offer hiring, retention or referral bonuses, and what it is doing to reduce turnover.
  • Add another system to the family of In mid-December, the General Services Administration migrated the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) to the growing Integrated Acquisition Environment portal. Agency acquisition workers now have a single access point for information about entity management, exclusions, and responsibility and qualification information. The migration to also brings with it a few changes to FAPIIS, including that the data is now called responsibility and qualification, as well as being part of the entity information domain. now includes five legacy acquisition sites.
  • Congress wants to know if Defense Department housing meets requirements for safe drinking water. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act requires a report by January 2025 indicating which housing installations have lead service lines or lead plumbing that carry drinking water. DoD needs to report its plan for removing any lead piping, and identifying any housing that has copper or lead levels above prescribed safety standards. A plan has to be submitted with annual updates for remediation if any housing fails to meet water safety standards.


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