Federal contractor to pay $7M for CX methodology issues

  • Your agency's customer satisfaction scores may not have been as accurate as you thought. Remember those scores your agency received under the American Customer Satisfaction Index over the past decade or more? Well, it turns out the company collecting the data and applying the methodology may not have been following a trusted approach. The Justice Department said Forsee Results has agreed to pay $7 million to settle allegations under the False Claims Act that it substituted a different methodology to measure the public’s satisfaction with certain government websites. The whistleblower allegations stem from a 2011 contract to Forsee from the Federal Consulting Group, which is part of the Interior Department.
  • The White House has lined up a potential new top cyber leader. President Joe Biden yesterday nominated Harry Coker to serve as national cyber director. Coker is a Navy veteran who has served in high-ranking positions at the National Security Agency and CIA. He is currently a senior fellow at Auburn’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security. If confirmed, Coker would fill a position that has been vacant on a permanent basis for months since Chris Inglis, the first ever national cyber director, stepped down in February.
  • Contractors are flooding the General Services Administration with questions about the OASIS+ contract vehicle. GSA, which released all six OASIS+ solicitations in mid-June, said it has received more than 4,500 questions as of July 14. The agency plans to release responses to the questions in batches over the next few weeks through both the SAM.gov portal and the OASIS+ interact site. Proposals for the multiple-award professional services contract are due by September 13.
  • A comprehensive report by the Partnership for Public Service shines a light on lower diversity in the upper ranks of the federal workforce. Less than a quarter of feds in the Senior Executive Service identify as people of color. And just about 38% of SES members are women. SES demographics have improved in the last 25 years, but the Partnership for Public Service report indicates SES is still lagging behind the overall federal workforce. Offering more remote jobs and focusing on bringing in younger candidates, according to the Partnership, may help with SES diversity in the long run.
  • The Veterans Health Administration is in the midst of a record hiring year. VHA has hired more than 43,000 new employees in fiscal year 2023 and is on track to surpass its target of 52,000 new hires by September 30. That is after the PACT Act gave Veterans Affairs new recruitment authorities to help keep pace with a growing demand for veteran care. VHA’s workforce has grown by 4.9% this year, fueled by both record hiring and improved retention. And VHA leaders told reporters this week that they are considering their staffing goals for fiscal 2024. There will likely be a targeted focus on nursing assistants and other critical occupations where VHA is still coming up short.
  • The Government Accountability Office is making three recommendations to the Department of Labor (DoL) to help overcome IT modernization challenges for its unemployment insurance (UI) program. DoL is helping state agencies modernize their UI systems after weaknesses emerged during the pandemic. Auditors said Labor must address pilot design weaknesses, establish standards for states' UI IT performance, and then measure such performance. GAO said until the department addresses these ongoing challenges, it will be limited in its ability to monitor whether states' UI systems are performing efficiently and effectively. DoL agreed with one recommendation and partially agreed with two.
  • Just about two weeks after it announced programs would be paused, the Air Force reinstated its aviation retention bonuses, along with funding, for permanent changes of station. On July 11, the service said it would take no new applications for the aviation bonus program, and that some service members' moves would be delayed. Along with retention bonuses, the Air Force will reinstate paused assignment incentive pay and foreign language proficiency pay agreements.
  • For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Department will survey reserve component spouses about quality of life issues. Reserve spouses will be asked about concerns involving the impact of the pandemic, spouse employment, activations, deployments and food security. The Office of People Analytics emailed and snail-mailed the survey to randomly selected participants. The survey is conducted about every two years. To boost participation, DoD said it made the survey shorter, as it now should take about 15 minutes to complete.
  • Workers at Yellowstone National Park have elected to join the National Federation of Federal Employees. Staff members within the Department of Interior’s National Park Service, such as park rangers, educators, researchers, firefighters and first responders, are now unionized, after 80% of the members voted in a favor of joining NFFE earlier this summer. Other recent additions to NFFE over the last few years, have been service employees at Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Bighorn National Forest, and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
  • Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is questioning the Census Bureau’s processes for estimating populations. In a letter to the Bureau, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee urged Census Bureau Director Robert Santos to quickly make changes to address undercounting. While the Bureau had made slight improvements to the Population Estimates Program, few changes were made to its Challenge Program and its Vintage 2022 Population Estimates. The 2023 omnibus appropriations bill also called for the Census Bureau to consider different methodologies to improve the accuracy of its population estimate. Peters is asking the Census for responses to nine questions by August 25 on how it is expediting its research and making program changes this year to help communities recover.

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