Employees at the Office of Personnel Management will soon see changes to their in-office requirements. All eligible employees with telework agreements at OPM are expected to report to the office at least two days per week, starting this fall. The change will take place in a phased approach, beginning in September, and will be fully implemented by October. OPM is the latest in a long series of agencies to announce new in-the-office requirements, after the Office of Management and Budget told agencies to start ramping up in-person work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responding to a major data breach at one of its contractors. CMS confirmed Maximus Federal Services was one of many organizations swept up by a ransomware attack on the MoveIT file transfer software in late May. CMS said the hackers were able to steal personal information on more than 600,000 Medicare beneficiaries. None of CMS’s internal systems was impacted by the attack. The agency and Maximus are sending letters to affected individuals.
Two lawmakers want to change how the federal employment process views marijuana. A new bipartisan bill in the House would prohibit agencies from denying someone a job or security clearance over current or past marijuana use. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) last week. It would also require agencies to establish a process for reviewing any decision dating back to 2008 that denied someone a federal job or clearance due to marijuana use. The legislation is the latest effort to loosen restrictions around federal employment and pot. Current policies still prohibit feds from using weed whether they are on or off the clock.
The FDIC has outlined its plan to better manage its cloud services. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will close three holes in how it manages its cloud computing services over the next year. The FDIC CIO told the agency's inspector general that it will establish an enterprisewide catalog of data by February. It will document a cloud exit strategy by September. And finally the CIO said it will implement enterprise governance for managing data in the cloud by September 2024. The CIO's plans of actions are in response to a new audit of the FDIC's use of cloud computing. The IG found the agency is spending $546 million across 17 contracts for cloud services.
The Defense Department now will have independent military prosecutors for cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, and other serious offenses. An executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Friday amended the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include the new prosecutors. The new Office of Special Trial Counsel, will operate independently from the military chain of command. It will reform the court-martial sentencing system to promote uniformity and fairness and reduce disparities in sentencing for cases of rape and sexual assault.
The IRS's newly selected chief transformation and strategy officer will spearhead major changes using Inflation Reduction Act funding. David Padrino will serve in the newly created position that will focus on modernizing the tax system. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said Padrino will bring critical experience and insight to the job that the IRS needs. Before joining the IRS, Padrino was the chief transformation officer for the Office of Personnel Management and served as chief recovery officer for the Colorado attorney general.
Military services may soon have a new way to attract recruits. The Senate version of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act includes setting up an enlisted corps demonstration program that will provide financial assistance to community college students in exchange for military service. Each service would set up its own version of the corps and be ready to introduce it to junior and community colleges by 2025. Students could potentially get assistance with tuition, room and board and expenses in return for a signed enlistment contract. The program would offer a military education as part of the students' curriculum.
Some former employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs will soon have the option to either return to work at the VA or receive compensation. That is after the department reached a settlement agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) over implementation of the 2017 VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The Federal Labor Relations Authority recently found that the VA failed to bargain with AFGE about the law's impact on many employee cases at the department. The total cost of this settlement is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but the exact number depends on how many former feds actually choose to return to the VA.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is addressing the disparity between grant rates for Black veterans versus other veterans by partnering with the NAACP. The VA has been delivering disability benefits to a higher percentage of Black veterans compared to other veterans since 2017. But the grant rates for Black veterans were lower than those for other veterans. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the partnership will help the VA enhance outreach and care to Black veterans.
Agencies have new marching orders when it comes to investing in research and development specifically to support domestic manufacturing. President Joe Biden's new executive order signed Friday outlines a series of new requirements, and encourages agencies to rethink their current approaches. The White House said this order is part of its “invent it here, make it here" policy. For example, the administration is encouraging agencies to consider domestic manufacturing in their R&D award solicitations, as well as to use a broad range of authorities to invest and purchase in leading-edge technology to support its production in the U.S. Additionally, the executive order charges the Commerce Department with several new initiatives including developing contract terms to ease implementation of these requirements.