Speaker McCarthy’s debt-limit proposal evokes AFGE backlash

In today's Federal Newscast: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt limit proposal evokes backlash from the largest federal employee union. The Department of Homel...

  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt-limit proposal evoked backlash from the largest federal employee union. The American Federation of Government Employees is urging lawmakers to oppose McCarthy's plan, saying it would slash agency spending and cause "irreparable harm." AFGE said it is specifically concerned about proposed funding cuts for the Social Security Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Transportation Department. Instead, the union calls on lawmakers to support an immediate increase in the debt ceiling, and then work on bipartisan discussions for future budget policies.
    (AFGE Urges Lawmakers to Reject Debt Ceiling Bill - American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced new measures to address advances in artificial intelligence and threats from China, as it established an artificial intelligence task force to drive specific applications of AI across the department’s missions. Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the AI task force as part of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review last week. DHS is already looking to use AI to help screen cargo coming into the United States, including to detect fentanyl shipments. And DHS is also embarking on a 90-day sprint to counter a range of concerns stemming from China, including cyber threats to U.S. critical infrastructure.
  • Multiple attempts at negotiations produced no agreement for union workers and management at the Army's Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. Now, management plans to move ahead with a new contract for employees without union approval. The American Federation of Government Employees represents over 400 skilled workers who produce Howitzer cannons and mobile repair modules at the plant. Members continue to protest what they say is a forced contract. The new contract was due to begin April 3, but management delayed it until yesterday.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs warns a debt-ceiling deal by House Republicans would cut tens of thousands of jobs. The VA said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to cut-and-cap nondefense discretionary spending would force the agency to cut the Veterans Health Agency by 81,000 employees. That would mean 30 million fewer patient visits per year and would limit veterans’ access to essential health services. The VA said the Veterans Benefits Administration would also have to cut an additional 6,000 jobs under this plan. The Office of Management and Budget estimates McCarthy’s plan would lead to a 22% cut in nondefense discretionary spending.
  • New data is out to help measure agencies' cybersecurity progress. Agencies have made significant strides in securing networks and data by taking advantage of tools and services provided by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). In the latest data from the President's Management Agenda, CISA said agencies have met -- or are close to meeting -- eight key indicators. For instance, CISA said 45% of all agencies are now reporting automatically through the continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM) tool their ability to close known vulnerabilities. The goal for 2023 is 50%. Additionally, CISA said agencies have used CDM to deploy 59% of all end point detection and response tools required governmentwide. The goal is 80% by the end of the fiscal year.
    (DHS 2-year goal - PMA.gov)
  • The General Services Administration said it fixed a major stumbling block to completing the transition for vendors to the new unique entity identification or UEI number. As of April 17, GSA said the software change to bring over the name and address from SAM.gov to the Federal Supply Schedule or FSS Online when minor name changes are detected to all impacted data fields has been implemented. GSA said vendors will receive a notification if something changes in their address or name such as adding or removing a period or comma or changing abbreviations for road or street.
  • The Army is staffing up a new cell of intellectual property experts to bridge the gap between government and industry. The service received hundreds of applications and is currently reviewing resumes for 10 positions to start the program. The cell will serve as a resource for contracting officers so they can write better solicitations, and a way for companies to offer feedback. Officials hope the cell will address a lack of standardization in the way intellectual property rights are handled in contract requirements.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is outlining its data goals for the next few years. In its new data strategy, OPM is focused on developing a federal workforce that is proficient in data and analytics skills across all agencies, by the end of fiscal 2026. It is also looking to use data analytics to improve federal employee satisfaction and customer experience across government. Additionally, OPM is setting a goal to create an enterprise analytics platform and to break down data siloes and promote information sharing.
    (OPM Data Strategy FY 2023-2026 - Office of Personnel Management)
  • The Office of Personnel Management said it is making some headway on the Biden administration's diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility executive order. The agency is, for example, working on a pilot program to increase awareness of federal job openings for underserved communities. But problems persist with federal DEIA initiatives as well. The Partnership for Public Service said white federal employees generally view agencies' DEIA practices more positively than employees of color, LGBTQ employees, and employees with disabilities.
    (Virtual National Engagement for DEIA Professionals - Office of Personnel Management)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is making diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility a major priority for leaders across the agency. USCIS released its DEIA strategic plan last week. The agency plans to conduct a comprehensive study of its DEIA training needs, and will also track the percentage of leaders who complete training. USCIS also said it will identify barriers to equal employment opportunities in recruiting, hiring and retaining diverse talent.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    T.J. Kirkpatrick/T.J. KIRKPATRICK

    Successes, challenges and areas for growth in the Best Places to Work rankings

    Read more
    Federal News Radio pinwheel icon

    VA warns 81K health care employees’ jobs at risk under House GOP debt ceiling plan

    Read more
    Naval Station Great Lakes Public/John Sheppard

    DoD taking new approach to ‘paralyzingly large’ facility maintenance backlog

    Read more