Recruiting struggles continue across the military

In today's Federal Newscast: Other than strong Marine Corps numbers, recruiting struggles continue across the military. The Inspector General at the Energy Depa...

  • The IRS is finalizing plans to rebuild its workforce over the next decade. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said he is working on a more complete picture of the agency’s hiring plans over the next decade. The IRS recently announced that it will hire 10,000 employees by the end of this fiscal year and hire another 10,000 employees the following year. The IRS is managing this hiring surge thanks to some $80 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act. Werfel said those funds dramatically improved taxpayer services this filing season. “This year, we proved that dramatic improvement is possible. The question is whether we can continue to improve,” Werfel said.
  • The Energy Department's inspector general is urging Congress to give her office more funding, as she sounds the alarm bells that her office doesn't have the resources needed to oversee an agency budget that has tripled over the last few years. Terri Donaldson told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that her office receives the third smallest amount of funding among all IG offices among CFO Act agencies. "As it is now, we are about $180 million short in our base budget and over $300 million short in connection with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act and legislation for Puerto Rico. Big numbers," Donaldson said.
  • With the exception of the Marine Corps, all of the military services expect to see a recruiting shortfall this year. The services told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday about their struggles to recruit service members. The Army and Air Force each expect to fall short of their goals by 10,000 recruits. The Navy expects a deficit of 6,000 sailors. The Space Force, meanwhile, reported it will reach its target of 700 off-the-street guardian recruits, but is unsure if it will reach its target of an additional 700 transfers from other services.
  • As wildfire seasons worsen, federal firefighters raise their voices on Capitol Hill. Low wages, staffing shortages and poor workplace conditions are top of mind for federal firefighters and their union leaders. They are calling on Congress to invest in a permanent pay raise for the federal first responders. “We need substantially better pay, more boots on the ground, improved mental health and medical services, affordable, livable housing and more. We need these things and we need them to get done this year in Congress,” said Randy Erwin, National Federation of Federal Employees President. A temporary pay raise for federal firefighters, granted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will expire this September.
    (National Federation of Federal Employees - Federal News Network)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is looking to help federal employees better understand supply chain risks. CISA’s new cyber supply chain risk management program is developing new training for federal employees. The training program is called Advancing C-SCRM Readiness and Maturity For Operational Resilience (ARMOR). Shon Lyublanovits, lead for CISA’s C-SCRM program, said the training program will start with a pilot phase. “We're going to take a few agencies through it, help us tweak it and get it right and get it out to the rest of government and possibly industry," Lyublanovits said. The training program comes as agencies have to comply with an increasing set of cyber and software security requirements.
    (Virtual Monthly Speaker Series: Supply Chain Risk Management in a Global World - Association for Federal Information Resources Management )
  • and USAGov in Spanish got a facelift. The General Services Administration used funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to better incorporate buttons, visual cues and user-friendly content. The Technology Transformation Service developed the sites using the GSA-led U.S. Web Design System, that focuses on user feedback and human-centered design. GSA believes the improvements will provide a smoother, more direct path to answers for commonly asked questions, like how to report scams. In one test, users saved about five minutes, compared with the previous version of the English and Spanish-language sites, when they looked up their elected officials on the federal, state and local levels.
  • Federal employees may soon have better access to child care services. A White House executive order directed the Office of Personnel Management to review its child care subsidy policy. The Biden administration told OPM to consider making changes to make the program more equitable and accessible to feds. Individual agency heads are also encouraged to expand employee access to child care services through federal child care centers, child care subsidies or contracted care providers.
  • The Defense Department needs to improve management of its installations, according to the the Government Accountability Office, which reported the department has at least $13 billion in deferred facility maintenance costs and it faces at least $91 billion in future environmental liability costs. GAO said DoD is adopting a new system to estimate facility maintenance requirements and standardize facility condition data across the department. However, there are delays in using the system. GAO wants the Pentagon to improve its data, strengthen oversight and increase transparency to better manage its installations.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is one step closer to getting a new second-in-command. President Joe Biden intends to nominate current VA Chief of Staff Tanya Bradsher to serve as the agency’s deputy secretary. Bradsher is a combat veteran, who served more than 20 years in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Prior to joining the VA, she served on the White House National Security Council and as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. The VA’s last permanent Deputy Secretary, Donald Remy, stepped down earlier this month.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is making progress on some major cybersecurity goals. In response to a recent audit, DHS’s chief information officer noted that 93% of the department’s accounts now use multi-factor authentication. And DHS has increased its centralized patching capability to cover 88% of the department’s endpoints. DHS also noted that the vast majority of its systems are in compliance with security standards, as 97% of the department’s systems have an up-to-date Authority to Operate and contingency plan.
  • A Senate vote to end the Department of Veterans Affairs’ abortion policy fell short. In a 51-48 vote, Senators failed to repeal the VA’s interim final rule that allows its clinicians to provide abortions in cases of rape or incest or situations that endanger the life-or-health of the mother. That rule applies in states that otherwise restrict access to an abortion. Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) led the resolution, which the White House said the President will veto if it makes it to his desk.
    (Senate Press Gallery - Senate Press Gallery)

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