The initial list of the best places to work in the federal government is out. Stop us if you've heard this before. NASA, once again, comes out on top as the best large agency. And again, the Government Accountability Office is the best place to work of mid-sized agencies. The small agency leader is also a congressional one: the Congressional Budget Office. But the best place of all is the tiny Office of Negotiations and Restructuring, part of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, with a 96% rating. Numbers are compiled yearly by the Partnership for Public Service.
An IRS watchdog says the agency doesn’t have a clear enough estimate of uncollected taxes. The IRS is looking to shrink the “tax gap” between what taxpayers owe and what the agency is able to collect. But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the IRS doesn’t have a clear picture of how big the tax gap really is. TIGTA said the IRS isn’t including corporate income taxes and other taxes owed in its tax gap estimate. The IRS estimates the tax gap was around $428 billion for tax years 2014 through 2016. But former IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told Congress the tax gap may have grown to about $1 trillion.
The company contracted to provide laboratory testing at all DoD military treatment facilities throughout the world is facing a hefty fine. The Defense Department's inspector general said Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) has agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act. The IG said LabCorp allegedly overbilled DoD for genetic tests for military members performed by a third-party reference laboratory. According to the settlement agreement, the IG said for eight years, LabCorp double and/or triple billed DoD for these genetic tests.
GSA takes another step toward righting the wrongs of Login.gov. The General Services Administration is turning to industry to help Login.gov meet the advanced identity proofing standard required by NIST. GSA released a request for information for the type of next generation identity proofing services that it misled agencies about for four years. The goal of the RFI is to get feedback from industry and other experts for how Login.gov can provide secure, simple and equitable identity proofing services. GSA plans to create a multiple award blanket purchase agreement that runs on top of the schedules contract. Responses to the RFI are due by April 7.
The Defense Department's networks remain vulnerable three years after military services misconfigured remote access software. The COVID crisis sent workers home and DoD had to respond quickly to build its remote network. Now a report from the DoD inspector general’s office finds network and system administrators for seven of 10 DoD components did not always implement all the critical configuration settings and cybersecurity controls it needed. The report recommends specific implementation controls, as well as timelines to develop plans of action and milestones for the risk areas that still need to be addressed.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is making progress on hiring. CISA is on track to hire 600 people this year, after making 516 hires last year. That is according to CISA Director Jen Easterly, who appeared before the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. CISA is one of the fastest growing agencies in government, but it’s struggled with burnout. Easterly said the agency is working hard to recruit and retain talent. “We are maximizing everything we can do to be more agile, to be more effective and to drive down those vacancies in our workforce and to keep attrition low,” Easterly said. And Easterly said CISA’s hiring goals are projected to bring the agency’s job vacancy rate below 8% in 2024.
The Army hopes to have a replacement series of recruiting ads ready to go in time to air during this weekend’s NCAA Final Four games. The service decided to pull its newly-launched ad series last weekend, when actor Jonathan Majors, the campaign’s star, was arrested on assault charges. The Army spent a total of $117 million on the new campaign, which relaunches its “Be All You Can Be” slogan from the 1980s. Officials said they will still be able to utilize the ad buys they’ve already placed, and the campaign is “full steam ahead,” but without Majors as the star.
Some agencies are missing the mark with their alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs. About a third of agencies are not routinely conducting self-assessments of their ADR programs' effectiveness. And about one-fourth of agencies are not evaluating their programs, period. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said ADR programs can help agencies resolve workplace conflicts early on without the need for a formal court decision. But the EEOC added that there are some issues with how employees perceive the legitimacy of an ADR program. A survey found that nearly 19% of agencies let a manager who was accused in a complaint be the authority for the settlement.
The Biden administration is proposing a 5.2% pay increase for the Transportation Security Administration workforce in fiscal 2024. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said that requires an additional $251 million next year. He told the House Appropriations Committee that the TSA is requesting a total of $1.4 billion in 2024 to support pay equity initiatives passed by Congress last year. TSA is planning to give its screeners significant raises this summer to bring their pay in line with the rest of the federal workforce.
The Army is seeking feedback on its latest update to its data reference architecture. It will release a request for information this week on phase two of its approach to simplify and flatten the Army's architecture and eliminate vendor lock-in. The service started work on the unified data reference architecture last summer. It plans to build a standardized framework to improve and simplify its networks and create interoperability. A third RFI should go live in June, with plans to complete the program by September.
The Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration said it has now spent more than a billion dollars on veteran cemeteries in states, territories and on tribal land. VA is spending that money through its Veterans Cemetery Grant Program, which began in 1978. VA reached the $1 billion spending mark after awarding a $1.8 million grant to expand the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. VA grants have led to the burial of more than 800,000 veterans, of which about 200,000 happened in fiscal 2022.