Senator thinks preserving secret Parisian butchers’ language was a waste of American tax dollars

In today's Federal Newscast: One senator thinks preserving a secret Parisian butchers’ language was a waste of American tax dollars. Lawmakers want to know wh...

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has released the newest version of “Federal Fumbles: Ways the Federal Government Dropped the Ball." Once again, Lankford highlighted ways he says the government has misspent half a trillion taxpayer dollars. For instance, taxpayer funds went into building a wine trail in Napa Valley, studying the effectiveness of seatbelts and helmets in Ghana, and preserving a secret butchers’ language in Paris. The book, which was released amid contentious debt-ceiling talks, questions if such grants are the best way to spend taxpayers’ money. The U.S. has $31.4 trillion in debt and counting. Lankford has annually released a new edition of “Federal Fumbles” for the past seven years.
  • The Postal Service is telling its regulator to butt out of plans to consolidate its network. USPS is looking to cut transportation costs by bringing mail processing and delivery operations under one roof, and creating Sorting and Delivery Centers across the country. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy expects to have 30 S&DCs completed by the end of the year, and about 100 up-and-running in the following year. The Postal Regulatory Commission is opening an inquiry into how USPS expects the S&DCs will impact its costs and performance. But DeJoy said that probe will only delay USPS plans to financially break-even by the end of the decade. "My hope is our regulator, the Congress gets out of our way, because this is a crisis,” DeJoy said.
  • Agencies should expect new customer service guidance from the Office of Management and Budget this summer. After four-plus years, OMB will finally release implementation guidance for the 21st Century IDEA Act. Congress passed the bill in 2018 to push agencies to modernize their websites and to make services more citizen friendly. Clare Martorana, the federal CIO, said the new guidance will be the first step in spurring on this ongoing innovation. "To make sure that agencies understand that we've convened people around the table to influence the guidance so that we're connecting policy to implementation, so that it helps people on the ground,” she said. Martorana added that OMB will likely first release draft guidance to receive feedback from all stakeholders
    (After four year delay, agencies to get 21st Century IDEA Act guidance this summer - Federal News Network)
  • A cohort of chief human capital officers has more plans underway for federal recruitment. Among governmentwide efforts, like bringing in multiple hires from one job announcement and offering 10-year term appointments in STEM, the CHCO Council has its eye on one group in particular: human resources. The council, along with the Office of Personnel Management, is planning some changes. “Now, we are developing the forthcoming HR career-growth platform that will support the growth and development of the HR workforce," CHCO Council Executive Director Margot Conrad said. The council, composed of federal human capital leaders, just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
    (CHCO Council 20th Anniversary Awards Ceremony - Federal News Network)
  • A lot of Defense Department employees have gotten used to the fact that logging into their desktops takes long enough to go get a cup of coffee, while the computer does its thing. The Navy thinks it may have solved that problem. A test group of about 50 users in the Pentagon will see new devices and new connectivity methods over the next couple weeks. If all goes according to plan, the rest of the Navy’s Pentagon workforce will get the same solution by mid-June. The Navy said it’s working to improve the experience for the rest of its users too, but those changes may take longer because of outdated IT infrastructure on its bases.
  • Nearly 200 House lawmakers are asking the State Department how it plans to deal with a surge in demand for passports. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers last month the department is getting half a million passport applications a week. That is up to 40% higher than last year’s volume. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) is leading colleagues in asking the State Department for an update on how many passports it has issued so far this year. Lawmakers are also checking on the status of the Online Passport Renewal system, which is in beta testing and expected to be made fully available to the public later this year.
  • After four sailors died by suicide at the Navy's Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Virginia last fall, the service took steps to promote mental health among its service members. Following a Navy investigation of the deaths, the command made changes including limiting duty time, adding an on-site chaplain, adding family life counselors and increased contact with senior leaders. Run by Naval Sea Systems Command, the maintenance center is responsible for ships, submarines and their combat systems.
  • A 20% backlog of pending discrimination charges at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is raising questions in Congress. Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.) are calling on EEOC to share its plans to address the backlog, which grew significantly during the pandemic. The lawmakers also urged the commission to release a more detailed report of the types of discrimination charges that individuals filed in 2022. EEOC officials said they are planning to release a more detailed report soon.
  • Contractors now have a new metric to hit to avoid being suspended from the General Services Administration schedule program. Starting on May 24, vendors will have to provide the status of agency customer orders for at least 80% of all order lines under GSA Advantage and e-Buy. GSA said vendors with a cancellation rate of more than 30% and an on-time delivery rate of below 30% could also face suspension. Contractors finding themselves in this situation can submit a corrective action plan to avoid suspension. GSA started this oversight effort in January and said delivery times have improved dramatically.
  • The Air Force will upgrade its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities with a new strategy and funding. The plan, which is still being drafted, will increase the number of sensors offering the service intelligence data, and expand its ability to process and analyze that information. The service has tried to expand its ISR digital infrastructure since 2018. Now it has funds to do it. The program will enhance sensor-based data collection from air, space, the Army and the Navy and will improve Advanced Battle Management System decision-making for the Air Force.

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