The White House will lift its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federal employees this week. President Biden has signed an executive order that will officially eliminate the mandate on May 12. But not much will actually change for federal employees. The mandate was never fully enforced because courts blocked most of the requirements. Still, 98% of feds had already either complied with the vaccine mandate or requested an exemption by the start of 2022. The removal of the vaccine requirement coincides with the administration’s planned end of the national public health emergency on May 11.
Fort Hood will now be known as Fort Cavazos. The Texas Army installation changed its name Tuesday and will go by the name of Texas-born Gen. Richard Cavazos, the first Mexican American brigadier general and a veteran of both the Vietnam and Korean Wars. The fort previously carried the name of John Bell Hood, who served as a Confederate General during the Civil War. The fort is one of nine Army posts to get a new name after replacing names commemorating the Confederacy.
The Postal Service needs to cut more costs to reverse years of net losses by 2030. USPS reported a $2.5 billion net loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2023 and is on track to see a net loss for the entire fiscal year. The agency, under its Delivering for America plan, previously expected to break even this year. The agency saw more than an 8% decline in first-class mail volume and a 5% decline in package volume, compared to the same period last year. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said USPS is in much better shape than it was two years ago, but said more change is needed. “We will be taking more aggressive actions to get back on track," DeJoy said.
Another mega contract is facing more delays because of protests. Awards under the Homeland Security Department's FirstSource III contract vehicle will take a little longer. Two vendors who didn't advance to phase two of the evaluation process filed protests with the Government Accountability Office. Both Alliance Technology Group and Better Direct claim DHS's evaluations were faulty because they failed to treat offerors equally. GAO has until mid-July to decide these cases. FirstSource III is a small business IT products contract with a $10 billion ceiling. DHS received more than 600 bids, issued 15 amendments and has seen multiple delays over the two year life of the acquisition
The Defense Department's fiscal 2024 budget request is getting a $100 million adjustment. The White House told Congress yesterday it wants to reduce budget authority for microelectronics programs and add money to the accelerate procurement and fielding of innovative technologies program. This was one of several changes the White House is making as part of its budget request sent up to Capitol Hill in March. The administration also is requesting changes to the budgets for the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Transportation, and HUD, as well as the EPA. In all, the changes would reduce discretionary spending by $17 million.
The Defense Department’s chief information officer wants IT user experience to be a top priority. CIO John Sherman said the ongoing problems with slow computing power and multiple sign-in attempts hurt readiness as well as morale. Although the Pentagon has not yet said how much money it wants to solve the problem, the Army requested $394 million in fiscal 2024 for user experience. Those funds would go toward a bring-your-own-device program, virtual desktop infrastructure, and buying new equipment to replace aging hardware.
The FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General are calling on veterans to watch out for medical identity theft. That is when someone uses stolen personal information to receive medical care or submit fraudulent claims for payment. The VA OIG and FBI are telling vets to reach out if they receive bills or other paperwork for treatment they did not receive or if they notice incorrect information in their VA medical records. Veterans should also notify the VA if their household’s personal data has been compromised or if their VA ID card is lost or stolen.
House lawmakers have set aside time to honor civil servants during Public Service Recognition Week. A new bipartisan resolution commended federal employees for their service and commitment to the public. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) led the effort, along with representatives Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.). Public Service Recognition Week runs through May 13. And, if you'd like, you can thank a federal employee for his or her service this week by sending an e-card through the FNN website: FederalNewsNetwork.com.