OPM adjusts extension date to waive certain policies for essential federal workers

In today's Federal Newscast: OPM gives agencies an extension to waive certain leave policies for essential federal workers. The Defense Department has started a...

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is looking to position a new program at the center of national cyber defenses. CISA is seeking $425 million in its fiscal 2024 budget request for a new Cyber Analytics and Data System. The new system is part of the restructuring of the National Cybersecurity Protection System, better known as the EINSTEIN program. Parts of EINSTEIN will transition to the new analytics and data system, while CISA will gradually phase out other portions of the program. The agency said the new system will give its cyber analysts more integrated data and better tools to quickly identify and prevent cyber attacks.
  • The Pentagon has about 15,000 full-time recruiters dedicated to filling its military ranks. But a new Defense Business Board study finds there are only about 100 recruiters for DoD's civilian jobs. The board said that is just one symptom of a broader problem: DoD is way behind in the war for talent when it comes to its civilian workforce. On Friday, the panel approved several recommendations to compete with the private sector, and plans to publish a more detailed report in the coming months.
  • The Defense Department has started a new working group to implement its suicide prevention policies. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin started the group after the department's Suicide Prevention and Review Committee sent him a series of recommendations. The working group will study how to move forward with the prevention committee’s 10 recommendations for suicide prevention. DoD plans to start hiring behavioral health professionals, as it expands access to mental health care. Suicide rates among active duty service members have continued to rise since 2011.
  • Recommendations to improve worker organizing are starting to pay off. The White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment said agencies are now, for instance, more clearly providing information about a worker’s right to organize. They are also improving some cross-agency collaboration to promote collective bargaining rights. The White House task force initially made 70 recommendations to the President, in an effort to improve federal employees’ access to unions. The number of federal employees in a union has increased by nearly 20%, with about 80,000 workers joining a union since agencies started implementing the task force actions.
  • Comments on a new shared services framework are due this week. The draft Shared Services Performance Management Framework lays out 17 measures to help agencies better monitor and improve the results of moving to shared services. The Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement in the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy is seeking feedback from agencies and industry about whether these 17 measures make sense. The framework focuses the measures around five main functional areas: customer, financial, marketplace operations, standards adoption and IT modernization. The process splits the 17 metrics up in phases through a balanced scorecard approach. Comments on the draft framework are due by March 24.
  • The Defense Department's Office of Strategic Capital is trying to make it easier for small businesses to find public sector funding. The year-old office is kicking off a new program, along with the Small Business Administration, called the Small Business Investment Company. Through the program, the Office of Strategic Capital will provide loan guarantees to investors and raise debt financing to match private capital. The partnerships will invest in deep technologies, prioritizing areas with large applications across DoD, like semiconductors that aren't necessarily ready to be acquired, but are considered defense technology.
  • The Defense Department is seeking to understand the current knowledge base of its 55,000 person financial management workforce, and it wants a commercial software application in the cloud to help. DoD released a request for information to help identify a commercially available proficiency assessment tool on a software-as-a-service basis. The tool will help DoD with measuring existing competencies of military and civilian workers based on key competencies and demographics. Then DoD will use the tool to revise existing courseware, develop new courses to address proficiency gaps, enhance workforce career development and manage the workforce. Responses to the RFI are due March 27.
  • Agencies have an extension to waive certain leave policies for essential federal workers. The Office of Personnel Management has adjusted the expiration date for agencies' authority to make exceptions and let feds use expired annual leave. The regulation applies to essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, who were often unable to use paid time off before it expired. OPM's extension of this authority will last until President Joe Biden lifts the national and public health emergency declarations, which he is expected to do on May 11.
  • The Department of Homeland Security should appoint a senior adviser to lead its innovation efforts. That is one recommendation from the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s latest report on technology and innovation. The council is also recommending DHS create a how-to guide for new companies interested in doing business with the agency. The report additionally urges DHS to conduct a review of its contracting processes. The council said the department’s acquisition regulations and procedures often get in the way of acquiring innovative technologies.

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