The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee is calling for a sweeping review of agencies using non-federal employees to serve in temporary roles while being paid by outside entities. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking 10 agencies to provide a full accounting of these types of hires made under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. Grassley is raising these concerns following news reports that the Federation of American Scientists, a non-profit with ties to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, is paying the salaries of dozens of positions within the Biden administration.
Defense policy experts tend to think the military’s budgeting system is overdue for an overhaul. It turns out the rank-and-file employees who work in the system every day strongly agree. That is according to a new survey by the American Society of Military Comptrollers, which found 71% of DoD financial management professionals think the current system —Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) — is too slow to respond to changing missions and new technologies.
The four shipyards capable of working on the Navy’s aging fleet have huge backlogs for maintenance and it detracts from combat readiness, according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. He told the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium, the Navy gets more value out of its fleet when it is maintained. Del Toro wants to prioritize increasing the number of shipyards available to do the work. He said it also aligns with the Biden administration’s plan to create high-paying, high-skilled blue collar jobs like those involving naval architecture and nuclear welding.
House Republicans didn’t waste time demanding answers about how at least one agency is being run. Robin Carnahan, the administrator of the General Services Administration, is facing tough questions from House Republicans over where she works. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the newly named Oversight and Accountability Committee, wrote to Carnahan yesterday seeking details about how often she works in Washington, D.C. Comer said the committee has received whistleblower reports that Carnahan has spent most of her time working in a location other than Washington during her tenure as GSA administrator. An email to GSA seeking comment was not immediately returned. The committee wants answers to their five questions by January 25.
A new bill in the House aims to return federal employees to the office. House Republicans introduced the SHOW UP Act. It would require agencies to return to their pre-pandemic office arrangements. If enacted, the bill would largely reduce the telework options that many federal employees currently have. Republicans in Congress have said increased telework during the pandemic caused delays and backlogs at agencies, including the IRS and the State Department. House Democrats, however, have pushed in the opposite direction, saying expanded telework improves federal recruitment and retention. (House Republicans introduce bill to return federal employees to the office – Federal News Network)
Bid protests may slow down the Defense Intelligence Agency’s big network modernization contract. DIA’s work to upgrade the government’s top-secret network is on hold after two losing bidders protested to the Government Accountability Office. AT&T and General Dynamics Information Technology each filed protests over the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System contract. DIA awarded the deal to Invictus International Consulting in November. Details on both protests are classified. GAO is due to deliver a decision on both cases by April 10.
The Internal Revenue Service will start this year’s filing season on better terms than in years prior. The IRS, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be in a better position to improve its performance this year than the year prior. That’s according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, in her latest annual report to Congress. The report finds the IRS got its backlog down to 400,000 individual tax returns by December. That means the IRS will have the bandwidth to process current-year paper tax returns rather than wait months until the end of the filing season as it has in recent years. The IRS started 2022 with 4.7 million returns in its backlog. (IRS needs to staff up HR office before it can rebuild it workforce, watchdog tells Congress – Federal News Network)
The Government Accountability Office is searching for a new technology executive and the National Institutes of Health finally filled a key acquisition role. These are two of the most recent personnel changes in the federal community. At GAO, Tim Persons, the chief scientist, left the agency after 14 years. He is now a partner in the Digital Assurance and Transparency business area for PwC. At NIH, Brian Goodger is the new permanent director of NITAAC. Goodger has been the acting director since May 2020.
House lawmakers are taking another shot at establishing a National Digital Reserve Corps. Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would create the corps. Reservists would sign up for a three-year period and work for agencies for 30 days per year. They would take on digital and cyber projects, education and training, data triage, acquisition assistance and technical development. They could also get security clearances. Gonzales and Kelly first introduced the bill in 2021.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking for feedback on its strategic enforcement plan. The agency’s draft of the plan will run through fiscal year 2027, and help the agency determine upcoming priorities to work toward reducing workplace discrimination. Over the past several months, EEOC leaders held listening sessions focused on different priorities, such as racial and economic justice, to help draft out the plan. In addition to its draft enforcement plan, the commission is now finalizing its 2022 through 2026 strategic plan, which defines internal performance measurements for the agency.
The Coast Guard plans to start letting its most senior enlisted personnel stay in the service longer. Until now, master chief petty officers were required to retire after 30 years of service. The new policy extends that to 35. Heath Jones, the Coast Guard’s top enlisted official, said the new program is meant to increase retention among the service’s most experienced enlisted leaders. Both the Coast Guard and the Navy have been experimenting with pilot programs to extend those sorts of mandatory retirement policies.