Federal employees remain wary, as Congress shifts a government shutdown deadline to the holiday season. Federal employees are tightening their household spending not knowing whether lawmakers can avoid a government shutdown on November 17, just before Thanksgiving. The House and Senate are still far apart on a bipartisan spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2024. LaRhonda Gamble is president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 12. She said her members are saving what they can. "A lot of our members are actually living paycheck-to-paycheck,” Gamble said.
Federal firefighters have a little breathing room before, once again, reaching a steep pay cliff. That pay cliff has now been pushed back to mid-November, thanks to the 45-day continuing resolution that was enacted over the weekend. But the threat of a massive pay cut is still looming for federal wildland firefighters. Those firefighters, along with the National Federation of Federal Employees, are urging Congress to pass a bill to make a currently temporary pay raise permanent, before time runs out. Without a permanent pay raise, between a third and half of federal firefighters have said they would resign from their positions.
Two agencies have won their second awards from the Technology Modernization Fund. The Transportation Department will have an extra $8 million to modernize an outdated consumer complaint and case-tracking application in the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection. OACP is getting the extra funding from the Technology Modernization Fund board to move away from a system built in 1996. At the same time, the board is giving the Federal Trade Commission $1.1 million to modernize the Registration Number System. The FTC is moving off a 1998 client-server technology and to a low-code platform-as-a-service instance in the cloud. This is the FTC's and DoT's second TMF award from funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.
Intelligence agencies are putting more of a focus on workforce well-being. Seeking out mental health treatment for conditions like anxiety and depression is not a reason to lose a security clearance, according to intelligence officials in charge of the clearance process. The White House Office of Management and Budget is moving to finalize a new security clearance questionnaire in the coming months. It features updated questions about emotional and psychological health aimed at reducing the stigma around the issue.
An agency watchdog is rooting out some inconsistencies at the government's largest payroll provider. The National Finance Center mistakenly over-reported the number of health premium enrollees at one agency by 11%, according to a report from the Agriculture Department's Office of Inspector General. The IG also found that several federal employees were charged incorrect amounts for their life insurance premiums, while others had their fees waived, despite being enrolled in the insurance program. The National Finance Center manages payroll services for about 650,000 federal employees across 170 agencies.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) is, once again, pressing the Office of Management and Budget for more information about the number of positions that are considered non-inherently governmental. The chairwoman of the Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on cybersecurity, IT and innovation wrote to OMB expressing frustration over the responses she received from her June letter. Mace asked OMB Director Shalanda Young for two datasets required under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act. The first is the agencies which have not filed their FAIR Act inventories for 2023. Second is the number of employees at each agency who are performing non-inherently governmental work. Mace asked for this information by October 5.
A high-ranking Defense Department official has been charge for his alleged participation in a dogfighting ring. Frederick Douglass Moorfield was in the Pentagon, serving as a Deputy Chief Information Officer for Command, Control and Communications in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has since been replaced on the DoD website. Moorfield and another man used encrypted messages to communicate across the country to discuss their dogfighting operations, according to the Justice Department. Moorfield used the name, "Geehad Kennels." Last month, law enforcement executed search warrants at the two men's Maryland homes seizing, among other things, veterinary steroids, training schedules, and a device believed to be used to execute dogs.
Agencies in charge of procurement are proposing sweeping new cybersecurity requirements for federal contractors. The rules, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register today, would require technology contractors to provide a Software Bill of Materials. It would also require those contractors to report cyber incidents within eight hours of discovering them. A separate proposed regulation today would standardize cyber requirements for unclassified information systems. Agencies will accept comments and finalize the rules before they become effective.
Do you need a passport or do you need to renew an expired one? The State Department is shaving a few weeks off the wait time. The department said it can now issue a passport in 8-to-11 weeks. It took up to 13 weeks during the peak travel season this summer. For an extra $60, applicants can get their passport in five-to-seven weeks through expedited service. That $60 fee is added to the baseline cost of $130 dollars. The State Department issued a record 24 million passport books and cards in fiscal 2023.