President Biden is tapping Suzanne Summerlin as his nominee for general counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to help oversee the government's labor-management relations. If the Senate confirms her, Summerlin would be the first permanent general counsel for FLRA in nearly six years. The vacancy has led to large backlogs of unfair labor practice appeals. The position sat completely vacant for four years until Biden, back in 2021, appointed Charlotte Dye as acting general counsel. Biden's new nominee Summerlin currently serves as deputy general counsel and deputy executive director for the Federal Education Association.
The State Department’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer is stepping down. Ambassador Gina Abercrombie Winstanley took the job more than two years ago, and led the department’s development of a five-year strategic plan on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. To track progress on those goals, the department for the first time developed disaggregated workforce data that breaks down the composition of its workforce across nearly every one of its offices. Abercrombie Winstanley during her tenure made it a best practice to have a panel of officials make hiring and promotion decisions, rather than leaving the decision up to a single individual.
House lawmakers press the Veterans Affairs Department's CIO about ethics concerns. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.) wants answers from VA CIO Kurt DelBene and Special Counsel Michael Waldman about when the agency will set up a formal process to document DelBene's ethics waivers and recusals. Bost said more than a month after Waldman told the committee VA needs to set up a way to ensure DelBene and all VA executives for that matter, are not putting themselves in conflict with past jobs, it's still not done. Bost wrote a second letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough seeking an update about VA's plans. Bost met with DelBene and Waldman in April to better understand DelBene's ethics waiver and recusal efforts around his former company, Microsoft. DelBene worked at the Redmond, Washington company for eight years, including as an executive vice president before coming to VA in 2021.
The House fails to move forward a bill that would rein in federal rulemaking. Several House Republicans joined all House Democrats in voting against a rule that would advance the Regulations from the Executive in Needs of Scrutiny, or REINS Act. The bill would require any major rule from an agency to pass through a vote in Congress before going into effect. The White House said it opposes the REINS Act, and plans to veto the bill if it reaches President Joe Biden’s desk.
The Air Force is fixing its shortage of childcare providers. When the service couldn't hire enough staff to run its on-base childcare centers, it increased pay and started offering free tuition for the first child a care provider wanted to put in the program. Air Force officials report staffing at those facilities has gone from 65% to 76% over the past year. After the first child, staff gets a 25% discount on any other children they enroll in the center where they work. Staffing childcare centers has been a problem throughout Defense Department installations.
The Air Force wants Space Training and Readiness Command Headquarters to move to Florida. The Space Force field command would move to Patrick Space Force Base near Port Canaveral. The command is responsible for development, education, and training of space professionals. The Space Force plans to move two more commands to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and Schriever Space Force Base in Colorado. The Air Force will conduct environmental impact analyses at each base before final decisions are made later this year.
NASA astronauts back from space are taking on a new mission. That mission is to help recruit the next generation of federal employees. The three astronauts encouraged federal interns at an event downtown to apply for opportunities and open themselves to new experiences early in their careers. Astronaut Josh Cassada tells his story. "I was an intern at NASA in 1994. My one piece of advice is just be curious. If you think you know what you want to do, go ahead and look into it, but also look into other things too. Go find that thing you're really passionate about." The event for federal interns, co-hosted by the Office of Personnel Management and Interior Department, also marked the launch of a new program to offer interns more resources and professional development opportunities throughout the summer.
(OPM and DOI team up with NASA astronauts to launch new internship experience program - Federal News Network)
The General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA SEWP are delaying its plans to require software attestation letters from vendors. GSA wrote in a May 24 acquisition letter that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) informed them its plans to extend the deadline beyond June 12. OMB had set the June deadline in its September 2022 memo on secure software development practices. NASA SEWP said it's following GSA's lead on this effort. OMB has not said what the new deadline for software attestation letters would be.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is getting a key IT modernization effort back on track. FEMA is years behind its original schedule for rolling out a modern, consolidating grants program. But now the agency has successfully launched the new platform, FEMA Grants Outcome or FEMA GO, and so far, it’s moved 19 grant types over to the new system. FEMA Chief Information Officer Charlie Armstrong said the agency aims to migrate the remaining 20 grant categories over to FEMA GO by next April. “So the goal would be to get all the grants up and running by the spring of next year, the data migrated over by mid-summer of next year, and decommissioning to happen sometime in 2025 of the legacy system.”
The Defense Department is warning security clearance holders to watch out for a sophisticated phishing email. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) said an email is circulating that encourages employees to fill out a fake addendum to the SF-86 security clearance application. DCSA said the email contains a link that leads to a site that looks legitimate, but is actually a malicious trick. The agency is warning those who receive the email to report it to their security office and then delete it immediately.