Small business contractors continue to win big with DISA. The fiscal 2023 results are in for the Defense Information Systems Agency's small business contracting efforts. DISA said it surpassed four of five goals for small business and socioeconomic firms last year. It awarded more than 29% of all prime contracts to small firms, totaling almost $1.9 billion, easily beating its 25% goal. In 2022, DISA awarded almost $1.7 billion to small businesses. DISA also topped its goals for women-owned and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses, as well as HUBZone firms. The agency awarded its highest percentage and most money ever to HUBZone firms. The only goal DISA missed last year was for contracts awarded to small disadvantage businesses.
(Defense Information Systems Agency - Federal News Network)
The Office of Personnel Management wants to make it easier for every agency to recruit cybersecurity talent. OPM is preparing to send Congress a legislative proposal that would create one cyber hiring system across government. The proposed reforms come amid a growing patchwork of different authorities across agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Talent Management System and the Defense Department’s Cyber Excepted Service. Jason Barke is deputy associate director for strategic workforce planning at OPM. “How do we create kind of this equity across the federal government, so everybody is on this level playing field, so we’re not really competing against each other,” Barke said at a Monday event hosted by the Federation for the Defense of Democracies.
The job satisfaction of federal employees is headed slightly upward. A survey showed that 68% of federal employees said they are satisfied with their jobs. That is an increase of 2% in the 2023 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Federal employee engagement is also on an upward trend, the FEVS showed. That is in contrast to survey scores for the private sector, which indicate declining employee engagement over the last few years.
The IRS is launching a callback option for taxpayers who need help next filing season. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said next filing season, nearly all taxpayers will have the option of letting the agency call them back. That is, if the expected wait time to receive help over the phone exceeds 15 minutes. “This means that for virtually all citizens calling into the IRS, the era of long waits, of listening to elevator music, while waiting for an IRS customer service rep to pick up, is over," Werfel said. The IRS said it will be rare for taxpayers to wait that long. The agency expects 85% of calls will get through to an IRS employee this filing season and that its average call wait-time will be less than five minutes.
Right now, there are nearly 100,000 so-called Thrift Savings Plan millionaires. That is about a 23% jump since the end of fiscal 2022. This time last year, just about 65,000 TSP participants had accounts totaling more than a million dollars. But it is still a downtick since two years ago, when there were about 113,000 TSP millionaires. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board tracks and publishes TSP account values each fiscal quarter.
The total size of the U.S. military dipped slightly last year. A new Defense Department report shows the number of service members decreased by 2.7% in 2022 compared to 2021. However, the number of women serving slightly increased in both the active duty and reserve components. Since 2005, the number of women serving has slowly increased, to 17.5% of the active-duty force in 2022.
The USAspending.gov website remains far from complete more than a decade after Treasury created it. A new study by the Government Accountability Office found 25 executive branch agencies do not report any spending to the portal. These 25 agencies accounted for more than $5 billion in total procurement spending. The portal's shortcomings are exacerbated even further, because agencies are not reporting spending through other transaction authorities (OTA) agreements. GAO said the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies spent more than $40 billion through OTAs between 2020 and 2022. Among GAO's recommendations were for Congress to require agencies to report OTA spending to USAspending.gov and to specify which agencies are required to report spending data into the portal.
Homeland Security agencies are urging emergency managers across the country to prepare for potential cyber incidents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, released a first-of-its-kind cyber incident guide for emergency management personnel. The guidance said managers should have a cyber incident response plan handy and prepare for everything from network outages to malicious cyber attacks.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said Congress needs to pass the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense appropriations bill to help the Defense Department support its people. The Defense Department is making recruitment and retention a top priority through pay and meaningful work. DoD will also focus on childcare, spousal employment and food security. To help recruitment, the department's working on highlighting military stories in advertisements, as well as working with social media influencers.
Agencies are staffing up on scientists across the federal government. Research from the Union of Concerned Scientists showed the federal STEM workforce increased across six top agencies between 2017 and 2022. Some agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saw hiring surges in 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 62% of federal scientists say they are feeling burnout, mostly because of staffing shortages.