Senator urges Justice Dept to aggressively address epidemic of robberies against postal workers

In today's Federal Newscast: With robberies against postal workers at epidemic levels, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban implores the Justice Department to aggre...

  • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is calling on the Postal Service and the Justice Department to address a spike in letter carriers getting robbed. Durbin is asking DOJ to aggressively prosecute criminals robbing USPS employees. Assaulting a letter carrier holds a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Durbin is also calling on USPS to reinstitute local crime alerts for its employees. The Postal Inspection Service reports armed robberies of letter carriers went from 36 incidents in 2018 to 154 cases in 2021.
  • Despite undertaking several new initiatives, NASA’s efforts to increase workforce diversity have not paid off. NASA has not made much progress in the number of women and people of color in its civilian workforce. The agency’s office of inspector general finds that NASA’s workforce demographics have largely flatlined over the past decade. Currently, women make up about 45% of the federal workforce, but just 35% of NASA’s workforce. At the same time, people of color comprise about 40% of the federal workforce, and just 30% of NASA’s workforce. The contrast is even more distinct in NASA’s senior-level positions.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is already meeting one of its goals to grow its health care workforce by the end of the fiscal year. The Veterans Health Administration has met its fiscal 2023 goal of increasing total employees in the health care system by 3%. VHA has made over 27,000 external hires so far this fiscal year and it's grown its total workforce by more than 11,000 employees. Undersecretary for Health Shereef Elnahal said that is VHA’s highest growth rate in more than 20 years. “We are knocking last year out of the water, in terms of hiring and retention performance," Elnahal said. VHA remains more than halfway to its goal of bringing on 52,000 external hires by the end of fiscal 2023.
  • Officials are sharing previously classified details about efforts to go after foreign hackers targeting multiple agencies. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) have forged a tight partnership in recent years. CISA recently helped three federal agencies ward off a cyber attack by foreign hackers. CISA then shared information about the adversaries with CNMF members, who could target the hackers abroad. That is according to CISA’s Eric Goldstein, who spoke about those efforts at the RSA conference in San Francisco this week. “This example of these three agencies, this is a model that we are working rapidly to scale,” Goldstein said.
  • The Air Force's IT outsourcing initiative is about ready for take off. The Air Force's enterprise IT-as-a-service (EITaaS) program is finally freed from delays because of protests. The service emerged victorious after the Government Accountability Office yesterday denied all of the complaints by Peraton. Peraton filed a protest with GAO after the Air Force awarded CACI a $5.7 billion contract last August to largely outsource the day-to-day management of the service's IT infrastructure. GAO said Peraton failed to support its claims of a conflict of interest from CACI hiring former Air Force executives or for how the service evaluated its bid. The other protester, Accenture Federal Services, withdrew its complaint in February.
  • The White House has nominated Army Vice Chief of Staff Randy George as the next Army Chief of Staff. He will replace Gen. James McConville, who plans to retire this summer. If confirmed by the Senate, George would lead the Army through a recruiting crisis that left it 15,000 soldiers short of its goal last year, with a projected shortfall again this year. George previously served as a senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. No word yet on when confirmation hearings will be scheduled.
    (Randy George nomination - )
  • The Veterans Affairs Department has a goal of moving at least 38,000 homeless veterans into permanent housing by the end of the fiscal year. This would be 2,000 fewer than its 2022 goal. But at the same time, the agency will increase its goal to engage with 28,000 unsheltered veterans, and provide them with complimentary services. This goal is a 10% increase over 2022. VA said the number of homeless veterans has fallen by 11% since early 2020 and by more than 55% since 2010.
  • In a move aimed at combating severe weather incidents due to climate change, the Army plans to install micropower grids on all its installations by 2035. The Army currently has 28 operational microgrids, with nine more under construction and 18 in the design stage. The grids will allow for on-site power generation, controllable distribution systems and energy storage. In the future, the systems will be combined with carbon-free energy generation and battery storage to run Army installations without an outside power source.
    (Army to install power grids - AUSA and SASC)
  • The Department of Homeland Security has a new privacy chief. Mason Clutter was officially appointed to the Chief Privacy Officer position this week, after serving in an acting capacity for the past several months. She will also serve as DHS’s Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer. Clutter replaces Lynn Parker Dupree, who stepped down as DHS’s Chief Privacy Officer earlier this year. Prior to joining DHS, Clutter held a variety of roles at the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
  • Some federal employees are pushing back against the Social Security Administration's response to the Best Places to Work results. After SSA took last place in the Partnership for Public Service's rankings, agency leaders emailed their staff to say changes are needed, and that many of the persistent workforce problems come from a lack of resources and funding. The leaders credit employees for the public's positive rating of SSA as the second most trusted agency in the federal government. But some Social Security employees voiced frustrations with the message from leadership, and call for bigger changes to support the workforce as a whole.
    (2022 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government - Social Security Administration)

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