OPM reminds agencies to report telework data accurately

In today's Federal Newscast: The IRS may have over-estimated the public demand for a government-run online platform to file taxes. OPM reminds agencies to repor...

  • The Social Security Administration has a plan to push back against criticism over improper payments. SSA is creating a new team to review and provide recommendations to improve its overpayment policies and procedures. SSA Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said she will appoint a senior official to lead this team that will report directly to her. Kijakazi said the decision to create this review team comes after inaccurate reports that SSA had overpayed citizens $21 billion. She said about half a percent of the $1.4 trillion SSA pays out each year are considered overpayments. But Kijakazi said the review team is part of SSA's continuous improvement efforts.
  • With Open Season fast-approaching, federal employees should take a look at their health care enrollments. The Office of Personnel Management said taking action during Open Season can lead to cost savings. And along with taking a look, OPM is also encouraging employees to consider creating a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to help cover health care costs in 2024. During Open Season, participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program can make changes to their health, dental and vision options. But typically, just 5% of feds take advantage of the open window. This year, Open Season will run from Nov. 13 to Dec. 11.
  • There are some reminders for agencies for how to accurately report data on teleworking employees. Agencies should be reviewing updated requirements that the Office of Personnel Management put out earlier this year. OPM's update requires agencies to be more specific in how they report which of their employees are on remote work or telework agreements. OPM also said agencies should also be reminding their employees to diligently record their telework hours using the right codes. That data all feeds back into OPM's Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) System.
    (Agency telework and remote work data reporting - Office of Personnel Management)
  • A top White House official is touting proposed contractor cybersecurity rules. Federal agencies want IT contractors to report cyber incidents within eight hours of discovering them. That tight timeline, laid out in proposed regulations this week, could help agencies stave off broader cyber attacks. That is according to Federal Chief Information Officer Chris DeRusha."That allows us to put pieces together and put the threat picture together at the speed that we need to address our adversaries," DeRusha said. DeRusha also said officials will take into account feedback about potential costs and constraints before finalizing the requirements. Comments are due by Dec. 4.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is trying to become an early adopter of AI technology in government. DHS is working on guidance to protect critical infrastructure, like utility providers and hospitals, from AI-powered cyber attacks. DHS is stepping up its focus on this technology ahead of an AI executive order that is in the works at the White House. Rob Silvers is the DHS undersecretary for policy. He told Federal News Network that AI tools also hold a lot of promise for DHS’ mission. “From detecting and interdicting fentanyl, to streamlined and safer airport security screening — there’s tremendous promise, and we’re going to lean into that,” Silvers said.
  • The Defense Department will not let its contracting officers enforce contractor minimum wages in three states. As of yesterday, those minimum wages are off limits if the contractor is a state agency in Louisiana, Texas or Mississippi. The deviation follows a federal court decision in Texas barring the government from enforcing an April 2021 Executive Order and related Department of Labor rule in those three states. However, the ruling allows the Biden administration to keep the $15 per hour minimum wage for its other contracts.
  • The IRS may have over-estimated public demand for a government-run online platform to file tax returns, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS is testing out its own e-file system next year, based on surveys that found 72% of taxpayers would be interested in it. But the IG said the survey gave participants limited choices for responses and that only a fraction of respondents strongly favored an IRS-run platform. The IG report said taxpayers may be less interested in the IRS platform because it can only handle federal tax returns but not state tax returns.
    (Assessment of a free and electronic direct filing tax return system - Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)
  • The Office of Management and Budget's new draft grants guidance aims to reduce the burden on agencies and recipients, as well as improve management, transparency and oversight of more than $1 trillion dollars that goes out the door every year. OMB is seeking comments on this rewrite of Title Two of the Code of Federal Regulations, which hasn't been updated since 2020. The 397-page document addresses everything from sub-award reporting to the requirements to obtain a Universal Entity (UEI) Number. Comments on the draft guidance are due by December 4.
  • The Commerce Department is looking to get ahead of any future problems that pop up in the supply chain of computer chips. This week, Commerce released an updated Semiconductor Alert Mechanism. The tool helps Commerce detect bottlenecks and address challenges in the semiconductor supply chain. The agency is asking companies, manufacturers and others to submit information about any ongoing or potential disruptions to microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing across the world.

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