Federal correctional officers continue the fight for COVID-19 hazardous-duty pay

In today's Federal Newscast: The White House is being pressured to name a new cyber executive. A couple have senators have drafted a bill to require federal-age...

  • The White House is feeling new pressure to name a new cyber executive. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the co-chairmen of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, are urging President Joe Biden to remove the "acting" title from Kemba Walden and make her the permanent national cyber director. In a letter to the president, King and Gallagher said Walden is a proven, forward-thinking leader who can seamlessly step into the permanent position today. The lawmakers said they are concerned that the three-month-plus delay in nominating a candidate to replace Chris Inglis will hinder the implementation of the National Cyber Strategy and lead to a lessening of the stature of the office. Walden has been acting national cyber director since Inglis stepped down in February.
  • Correctional officers at the Bureau of Prisons are taking a hazardous-duty pay case to the Supreme Court. They are seeking a reversal of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, which found workplace exposure to COVID-19 did not meet the legal definition of hazardous duty. BOP denied the officers extra pay. The officers argue that close proximity to infected inmates in crowded prisons, before vaccines came out, was hazardous. Attorney Molly Elkin filed the petition and said officers were literally locked inside with the virus each and every shift.
    (Cody Adams, et al. v. United States - Mcgillivary Steele Elkin )
  • A postal union recognized letter carriers for their acts of heroism. The National Association of Letter Carriers honored about two dozen of its members for going "above-and-beyond" in their communities. Awardees performed life-saving actions in some cases, including: pulling a family from a burning home, rescuing plane crash survivors and protecting a woman from an attacker by sheltering her in a mail truck. The union resumed its annual awards ceremony after putting the celebration on hold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the awards show letter carriers serve a vital role in their communities. "I am very proud to say there are many great heroes at the United States Postal Service,"DeJoy said.
  • A new wearable device, in the form of a smart watch, alerts military personnel to signs of illness before any symptoms appear. The Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure project (RATE) puts sensors in a commercial watch and a ring that send data to a program for assessing potential infections. The DoD's Defense Innovation Unit developed the sensor device and improved it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the Defense Department plans to expand the use of the RATE device to 4,500 users, and improve its ability to detect a variety of infections.
  • About a thousand employees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are at risk if the Supreme Court agrees with a lower court ruling over how Congress funds the agency. The union representing CFPB employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing Congress followed the law in how it chose to fund the agency. The lower court ruled last October that lawmakers violated the Constitution when they authorized the Federal Reserve to transfer a limited amount of money to the CFPB for its operations every year, instead of requiring the agency to go through the annual appropriation process.
  • The district office of Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) was the scene of a violent attack yesterday. Police said a man with a metal baseball bat entered Connolly's office and asked for the congressman by name. Connolly was not in the office. The man proceeded to attack two staff members with the bat. The assailant was taken into custody by Fairfax County Police, and both staffers were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
  • The Defense Department gave out $18 million in awards to universities in parts of the country that do not typically get much government research money, including schools in New Mexico and South Dakota. The winners come from two competitions: a research collaboration competition and a capacity-building competition, designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in underutilized states/territories.
  • Senators are calling for a federal workforce that is more adept at utilizing artificial intelligence. The AI Leadership Training Act would require the Office of Personnel Management to provide an AI training program for federal government supervisors and management officials. The OPM training would cover the risks and ethical implications of AI and would help federal leaders determine if an AI tool is the right fit for their agency. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) are leading the bill.


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