Another attempt to lessen the effect prior marijuana use has on getting a security clearance

In today's Federal Newscast, lawmakers are again trying to change how marijuana use factors into a security clearance decision.

  • Thousands of federal employees are a step closer to a bigger pay raise in 2024. Federal employees working in Fresno, California; Reno, Nevada; Rochester, New York, and Spokane, Washington, will soon have different calculations for their locality pay. Those regions are the four new locality pay areas that the Office of Personnel Management plans to establish in the coming months. A new proposed rule from OPM laid out details for implementing the new localities, and other recommended changes to federal pay. The roughly 33,000 feds who will be impacted by the recommendations will see those changes to their paychecks starting January 2024.
  • A pandemic watchdog group reels in its biggest case of suspected fraud. Federal prosecutors have charged 14 individuals with allegedly defrauding more than $53 million in emergency COVID-19 funds from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. This is the largest case to date for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s Fraud Task Force. PRAC Chairman Michael Horowitz credits the committee’s team of data analysts with helping track down the allegedly fraudulent spending.
  • Lawmakers are again trying to change how marijuana use factors into a security clearance decision. Agencies would be prohibited from denying a security clearance based solely on past marijuana use under the Senate’s latest intelligence authorization bill. The Select Committee on Intelligence approved the bill earlier this month. A similar provision was ultimately stripped out of last year’s version of the intel authorization law. Guidance from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence tells agencies that recreational weed use in the past shouldn’t be the sole disqualifying factor for a security clearance but agencies still have some leeway to establish their own policies around prior use.
  • The Air Force has a new plan for managing deployments. The force generation model will assign airmen to one of four phases that deploy on a 24-month cycle -- or more frequently for units assigned to the air component of a combatant command. The six-month phases include preparation, certification, availability and then a reset. Airmen and units build readiness through the prepare and certify phases, deploy during the available phase and reintegrate during the reset phase. The Air Force says the new program will improve readiness.
  • The Navy's four public shipyards are in disrepair and their equipment needs to be modernized. While the service has a plan to update the yards, the project has gotten progressively bigger and more expensive. A new report from the Government Accountability Office says the Navy needs to readjust its cost estimates and update its risk analyses associated with the estimates for the design process. The shipyards handle maintenance for the Navy's ships, aircraft carriers and submarines. The condition of the shipyards has caused a backlog of maintenance for the fleet.
  • Agencies have new guidance for how to put the “security” in DevSecOps. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency released a how-to guide this week for integrating security into software development pipelines. The guidance focuses on commonly used methods for quickly building and testing code changes in cloud-based environments. It comes as agencies increasingly adopt cloud services and applications, while also confronting software security requirements.
  • Finding qualified cloud service providers is getting easier. The FedRAMP program updated its marketplace with nine new features based on user feedback. Among the new capabilities are the ability to search cloud service providers by business categories and by FedRAMP ID number, provider and service offering. The FedRAMP program office plans to continue to iterate and improve the portal as it receives additional feedback during the year. FedRAMP has authorized 312 cloud services and another 96 are going through the process.
  • In a few days, agencies will have to double check certain small business certifications. A new HUBzone map takes effect on July 1st. The Small Business Administration released a preview showing the areas considered underutlizied based on the 2020 Census results. Contractors should check to see if their principal office is in a HUBZone to qualify for the small business contracting program. SBA says there are more than 20,000 HUBZone areas across the United States and territories, including more than 3,700 newly qualified communities. For those contractors in areas that are no longer HUBZones, SBA has extended their certifications to July 1, 2026.
    (HUBZone preview map - Small Business Administration)
  • Federal employees' annual food donation drive kicked off this week. The Feds Feed Families program, run by the Department of Agriculture, encourages feds to make food contributions to combat hunger and improve access to healthier foods. Last year's Feds Feed Families campaign raised more than 8 million pounds of food and donations from federal employees across the country. Now in its 14th year, the program is close to delivering nearly 100 million pounds of food in total. This year's campaign will collect donations through the end of August.
    (Feds Feed Families 2023 - Department of Agriculture)
  • The Biden administration is launching a multi-agency push to address veteran homelessness. The Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is awarding more than $58 million in grants to help veterans experiencing homelessness find a job. The Department of Veterans Affairs is also awarding more than $11 million in grants to provide legal services to homeless veterans. The VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are also launching a series of boot camps meant to help public housing agencies and VA medical centers find permanent housing for veterans experiencing homelessness.
  • The State Department’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer is stepping down. Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a career diplomat with more than 30 years of experience, is leaving federal service at the end of this week. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed her for the chief diversity and inclusion officer role more than two years ago. Abercrombie-Winstanley says the department is doing more with its workforce data to pinpoint retention issues. She also says the department’s commitment to diversity extends beyond the current administration.

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

Related Stories

    How does locality pay actually work, and where did it come from?

    Read more
    Legal Marijuana-Surviving the Market

    Another attempt to lessen the effect prior marijuana use has on getting a security clearance

    Read more