The U.S. Agency for International Development joins the list of agencies asking people to spend more time in the office. USAID told employees to start spending three days a week in their offices. That policy must be fully in place by September 24. Acting director for management Deborah Broderick, in an email, urged contractors providing staff to USAID headquarters to review their own telework policies. She said greater in-office presence is essential to enhancing the agency's health and effectiveness.
(Email - USAID Acting Director for Management Deborah Broderick)
A key House committee is prioritizing intelligence community workforce initiatives in its annual policy bill. The intelligence community would get new hiring incentives and talent management authorities under the fiscal 2024 intelligence authorization bill passed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week. The legislation would also require the Central Intelligence Agency to better protect and support survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the agency, while ensuring perpetrators are held accountable. The bill also aims to provide enhanced retention and performance bonuses for CIA personnel.
One policy rider tucked into the House's appropriations legislation could mean the end of the Thrift Savings Plan's mutual fund window. That's because of one small provision that Republicans on the Appropriations Committee included in the Financial Services and General Government bill. The bill language would essentially block any funding from going toward mutual funds in the TSP that are based on environmental, social or governance (ESG) criteria. The TSP board has already said that having to closely monitor more than 5,000 mutual fund options would be too costly and burdensome to continue offering the mutual fund window to TSP participants. The TSP's mutual fund window, now just over a year old, offers many more investment choices to participants, according to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. The federal employee organization is urging the House to remove that language from the appropriations bill.
The intelligence community is setting a two-year roadmap for its data goals. The IC Data Strategy lays out the steps all 18 intelligence agencies will take to develop a more data-savvy workforce, and sets the groundwork for the IC to use artificial intelligence tools. The IC Chief Data Officers Council will provide an update on implementation at its next meeting in August. The strategy states that the intelligence community hasn’t yet fielded data analytics and AI tools at a pace needed to stay ahead of emerging threats. IC CDO Lori Wade said the strategy addresses common data challenges across all intel agencies. “Data is fundamental to everything that we do in the intelligence community, and our ability to manage it properly," Wade said.
The Pentagon’s Defense Human Resources Activity is leading an analysis to figure out a new plan to replace the Defense Department's aging travel IT system, the Defense Travel System (DTS). The department abruptly cancelled what had been the replacement plan for DTS last month. Defense officials are on Capitol Hill today to testify about the decision to cancel that replacement, called MyTravel, and return to DTS. In written testimony prepared for the hearing, officials told a House committee they couldn’t justify MyTravel’s annual price tag of $44 million.
A government advocacy group said the House's proposed funding cuts for the Office of Personnel Management would have serious repercussions for the agency's retirement services. Retiring feds already struggle with customer service issues and processing delays, said the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association — and deep funding cuts would only worsen the problems. OPM outlined a plan in its fiscal 2024 budget proposal to move away from slow, paper-based retirement processes, and instead toward a modernized online system. NARFE urges House Appropriations Committee leaders to allocate funding for OPM up to the limit of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, rather than cut levels below the agreement’s caps.
Federal program managers should develop internal control plans now so they can avoid improper payments during future emergencies. That's just one of the recommendations in the Government Accountability Office’s new framework for managing improper payments in emergency assistance programs. There has been an estimated $2.4 trillion dollars in improper payments across federal programs since 2003. And GAO points out that the risk of improper payments increases during emergencies, when speed of assistance is the priority. GAO’s new framework includes five overarching principles and corresponding actions agencies can take to address those concerns.
Military service members and their spouses now have a legal right to use their professional licenses or certificates in new jurisdictions if they are relocating due to military orders. The Justice Department sent a letter Friday to all state licensing authorities about new employment-related federal protections for military families. Congress added a provision to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in January that added several new protections for military families. The changes are meant to reduce barriers to finding employment for military spouses and make relocation easier.
A new bill called the Streamlining Federal Grants Act is designed to simplify the federal grant process. It would require the Office of Management and Budget to give agencies guidance on how to streamline their grant applications. The OMB guidance would also address how agencies should update software and systems used to apply for and manage federal grants. The bill's sponsors on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the current application process keeps underserved communities from applying for grants.
A union representing federal first responders wants the Pentagon to speed up changes to improve working conditions for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the Department of Defense to make changes already mandated by Congress, including allowing all qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms regardless of state or local laws. The union also wants DoD to issue all officers updated Common Access Cards that identify them as federal law enforcement officers, and increase minimum federal pay to $15 an hour.