Department of Homeland Security employees get a nice surprise ahead of Independence Day. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas granted all DHS employees eight hours of administrative leave yesterday. In an all-hands message, Mayorkas said the extra time off was in recognition that many across DHS would have to work during the 4th of July next Tuesday. He said the leave would be available for employees through the end of calendar year 2024.
Employees at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will have to return to the office more often starting in 2024. FDIC leaders say employees will have to come into the office three days per week starting January 1. They'll be able to continue teleworking just two days per week. The change comes after the Office of Management and Budget called on agencies to review their employees' work schedules and productivity levels, and make adjustments where needed. The Department of Veterans Affairs and FEMA also recently announced plans to increase in-office work in the coming months.
( - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
The Office of Personnel Management is looking for some help to promote its new intern experience program. OPM took the lead on designing and planning out events that will be available to federal interns this summer. But OPM says it will be up to agency supervisors and managers to help hit the ground running to boost visibility of the new program. During their time working for the government, federal interns across agencies will have access to webinars, workshops and much more. The new experience program, which launched earlier this month, is part of broader efforts to revamp federal internships and early-career recruitment overall.
Pregnant employees now have more protections when it comes to getting workplace accommodations. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which officially took effect yesterday, requires employers to offer accommodations to individuals with limitations that stem from pregnancy or childbirth. But federal agencies may have a slightly different route for implementing the law. Experts at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission say that because agencies already have similar accommodation processes in place, most can simply modify their existing procedures, rather than create entirely new ones.
A new Navy policy allows victims of sexual harassments to get immediate access to support services through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Victims now have the option to receive crisis intervention, safety assessments, counseling resources, victim advocacy support and they can discuss reporting options with counselors. In addition to care for the victim, the Military Equal Opportunity Program will continue to process and track military sexual harassment complaints. The new policy expands available support and implements requirements of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and Independent Review Commission recommendations.
Companies and investors who contract with the Defense Department want changes to the acquisition process. A group of 13 industry leaders and investors wrote an open letter to the Pentagon asking for specific changes to the way it does business. The group wants to strengthen the alignment of capital markets to DoD outcomes and incentivize tech companies to do business with it. They also want a bridge fund for demonstrated technologies and modernization to align with the industrial base. Signers included Applied Intuition and Kleiner Perkins.
The Biden administration lays out its major cyber priorities for next year’s budget. Agencies should continue demonstrating progress toward achieving zero trust security architectures as part of their fiscal 2025 budget submissions. That’s one point in the White House’s latest cyber budgeting guidance. It also directs agencies to make progress toward establishing performance-based regulations and cyber standards for critical infrastructure. And agencies should also ensure they have both the personnel and resources to oversee those critical infrastructure requirements, as well as emerging software security requirements for federal vendors.
One of the longest running cybersecurity shared services programs is in need of a facelift. The General Services Administration and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are asking vendors how to modernize the Einstein 1 and Einstein 2 capabilities. In a new request for information, GSA and CISA want to know how industry would update current network detection and response services. The RFI includes more than 17 questions to include everything from pricing models to the use of machine learning and automation. Responses to the RFI are due by July 14.
The amount of pandemic related fraud among Small Business Administration programs remains a mystery. The agency says it believes fraud through its two loan programs totaled about $36 billion. But this total is in sharp contrast to the $200 billion that SBA's inspector general estimated the agency improperly paid out. SBA and its IG released conflicting reports yesterday. The agency says its analysis done by human-led reviews by trained professionals, many with long prior careers in law enforcement, complemented by data analytics doesn't match up with what auditors say happened.