3,000 military reservists might be on their way to Europe

In today's Federal Newscast: The General Services Administration is rethinking how it'll decide where to build a new FBI headquarters. Two decades of sexual har...

  • Yet another federal agency is clarifying its remote-work plans for employees who are already teleworking. National Science Foundation employees will be in the office at least four days per two-week pay period, starting in October. But the announcement from agency leadership gained pushback from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). The federal union said NSF leadership made the announcement before negotiating or coming to an agreement with the bargaining unit. NSF said the telework changes will still maintain a hybrid environment, but AFGE is putting together a counterproposal with more flexibilities for NSF staff, and considering legal options.
  • Up to 3,000 military reservists could be mobilized under a new White House executive order. Signed Thursday, the order authorized the Defense Department to call up reservists to support military efforts in Europe. The order designates the activity as a contingency operation, which allows the Pentagon to provide pay and support for the reservists as active duty troops. It also provides services and support for the families and dependents of deployed reservists. U.S. military activities in Europe, called "Operation Atlantic Resolve," involve training exercises and support for NATO in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • The State Department is looking to drive down passport wait times as it deals with a major backlog. A State Department spokesperson said passport wait times should return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the calendar year. Routine passport processing currently takes about 10-to-13 weeks. The spokesperson said hundreds of additional passport services hires are in the pipeline to help drive down a backlog made worse by a surge in travel this summer. The department is also bringing back an online renewal platform next year, after beta-testing the system. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said this year his office has already helped more than 1,500 Virginians get their passports. “It shouldn’t be your normal course of business that you have to go through your U.S. senator’s office to get your passport renewed on a timely basis,” Warner said.
  • Intelligence agencies continue to grapple with rapid advances in artificial intelligence technology. The National Security Agency is developing a new AI roadmap. It will incorporate recent developments in large language models and generative AI. Officials said the rapid ascension of ChatGPT and similar models represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the intelligence community. Speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Summit last week, NSA Deputy Director George Barnes said, "What we all have to do is figure out how to harness it for good, and protect it from bad. And that's this struggle that we're having with this whole notion of how do we actually navigate through the power of what this represents for our society and really the world."
  • Under a new bipartisan Senate bill, agencies would be prohibited from buying certain products that contain PFAS substances, the so-called "forever chemicals." The PFAS-free Procurement Act would bar agencies from purchasing cookware, utensils, carpets, furniture, and other items that contain the PFAS chemicals. The bill was introduced by members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week. The Defense Department is already subject to the restrictions in the bill, but lawmakers say other agencies need to prioritize PFAS-free procurement to help protect federal employees, contractors, veterans and other individuals who use their facilities.
  • The General Services Administration is rethinking how it will decide where to build a new FBI headquarters. GSA said it’s adjusting its selection criteria for a suburban FBI headquarters in either Maryland or Virginia. The new criteria place more emphasis on the overall cost at each proposed site, and how the location advances the Biden administration’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. GSA said it will also place less weight on each site’s proximity to the FBI’s training academy in Quantico, Virginia, and the Justice Department’s D.C. headquarters.
  • The Coast Guard will initiate a service-wide 90-day accountability-and-transparency review after reports of years of sexual assault problems at the Coast Guard Academy. At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing Thursday, chairperson Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she planned to request an inspector general investigation into the sexual assault and harassment allegations. The incidents reportedly occurred at the academy between 1988 and 2006. The service conducted its own investigation in 2014 and found over 60 incidents, but failed to report the investigation to Congress until June.
  • One member of Congress is making yet another push to prevent the return of Schedule F. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) filed the Saving the Civil Service Act as an amendment to the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill would prevent presidential administrations from creating new federal job classifications, in effect blocking a revival of a highly debated executive order from the end of the Trump administration. The Schedule F order, now revoked, would have made tens of thousands of career feds easier to fire. For three years, Democrats have introduced legislation to prevent Schedule F's potential return, but so far, nothing has passed.

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

Related Stories

    NSFNational Science Foundation headquarter

    NSF announces return-to-office changes before finishing negotiations, drawing union ire

    Read more
    Senate Banking

    Warner says passport backlog ‘not sustainable,’ as State Dept aims for pre-pandemic processing times

    Read more