Houston leads nation in dogs biting letter carriers

In today's Federal Newscast: It's a mixed-bag in May for the Thrift Savings Plan. President Biden picks an Air Force Lt. Gen. to lead the Defense Intelligence A...

  • President Biden has selected Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse to be the next director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Kruse currently serves as a military adviser to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who has been the DIA director since July 2020. During his more than 30 years in the military, Kruse has served in a number of key roles including director for intelligence at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and commander of the Air Force’s 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.
  • Postal Service data shows employee dog-bite incidents are on the decline. USPS is reporting that 5,300 employees were attacked by dogs in 2022 while delivering the mail last year. That is about 100 fewer incidents than the year prior. With 57 cases, Houston is once again the city with the most USPS employees being bit by dogs. Los Angeles and Dallas are also dog bite hotspots. USPS said California was the state with the most USPS dog-bite incidents, with 675. The agency tells households to keep dogs inside the house, away from the door or on a leash when letter carriers are on their routes.
  • The Defense Department finalized an acquisition regulation to let services and agencies more easily move from prototype to production under Other Transaction Agreements (OTA). While this authority existed in law as part of the 2023 defense authorization act, the final rule removes from DoD's acquisition regulations the requirement for the OTA solicitation to specifically include an option for a follow-on production contract. The final rule also clarifies that DoD must still have an OTA agreement in place to award a follow-on production contract.
  • A watchdog report finds a Department of Veterans Affairs system to reimburse veterans traveling for medical appointments is falling short of its goals. In 2020, the VA rolled out its new Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System, designed to expedite reimbursements and reduce fraud by allowing veterans to submit claims online. But a report from the VA inspector general’s office finds the program did not meet either of those goals. Veterans used the new system for less than half of total claims. The report also indicated that improper payments under the program increased from $70 million in fiscal 2013 to about $123 million in fiscal 2021.
  • Mark Borkowski, the chief acquisition officer and assistant commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection directorate in the Homeland Security Department, is retiring after almost 43 years of federal service. Borkowski's last day is June 30. In an email to staff obtained by Federal News Network, Borkowski said he had been thinking about retiring for the last several years, but decided now was the right time given what CBP has achieved. There are no details about who might replace Borkowski, even on an acting basis. Borkowski served 23 years in the Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel, before becoming a civilian employee in 2004. He has been with CBP since 2010.
    (Email to CBP staff - Mark Borkowski)
  • The White House wants agencies to increase meaningful in-person work, but that will look different depending on the agency. Most of the work at the Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service can be done remotely, but agency leaders said occasional in-person work is still beneficial. Jody McDaniel, an agency director, explained the balance. “What we’ve done is … about two in-person workshops over the course of the year, but most of our training is actually done on a virtual platform. We’re taking a really deliberate approach on when we need to come together and assessing what items require us to meet the needs of our customers.” McDaniel said hybrid work has led to lower attrition, and higher employee engagement, for agency staff.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has plans to set up a DHS IT Academy. DHS leaders described the idea in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week. The academy would create a standard technical orientation for new DHS technology employees, as well as a training and rotation program for entry-level hires. And for existing employees, the academy would offer upskilling opportunities in areas like data science, artificial intelligence and human-centered design. DHS currently employs about 5,000 IT employees across its components.
    (Hearing: Modernizing DHS’s mission-critical legacy IT systems - Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee )
  • The Social Security Administration wants to hit the ground running to staff up at field offices, hearing offices and program centers with thousands more employees. SSA leaders said adding staff is necessary due to a growing number of beneficiaries and high attrition in the past few years. In 2022, SSA hit its lowest level of employees in 25 years, down to just 56,000. But federal unions representing SSA workers said to retain incoming employees, management needs to do much more to address major workforce challenges, like poor work-life balance, insufficient pay, high workloads and limited telework options.
    (New hiring initiative will improve service - Social Security Administration)
  • The government securities investment G fund, the common stock index C fund and small cap stock index S fund were the only TSP funds with positive returns in May. The S fund saw the largest positive return at just 0.44%. Despite mostly negative returns, all funds are in the positive for their year-to-date returns. All Lifecycle funds posted negative returns for May, but remained in the black for their year-to-date and last 12 months of returns.

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