VA surpasses goal to find permanent shelter for homeless veterans

In today's Federal Newscast: The Cyber Accreditation Body has a new leader. The Department of Veterans Affairs has surpassed its goal to permanently house homel...

  • The FDIC is facing new scrutiny over recent allegations of hosting a toxic workplace culture. The inspector general and both House and Senate lawmakers are pushing FDIC leadership to address allegations of sexual harassment and a culture of sexism and discrimination that have come to light only recently. The IG plans to initiate a special inquiry to report on the leadership climate at the FDIC with regard to all forms of harassment and inappropriate behavior. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) yesterday joined a growing chorus of House and Senate lawmakers calling for investigations and for FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg to resign. In response to the allegations, the FDIC board has set up a special committee to lead an independent review of the workplace culture and recommend changes.
  • House lawmakers pressed four agencies for deeper details on their teleworking employees. Republicans on the Oversight and Accountability Committee raised concerns about system security, performance management and office space among high telework levels in government. But four agency leaders pointed to improved recruitment and retention, as well as better productivity, as a result of telework. And at the same time, the agencies are continuing to increase in-person work for much of their staff. The latest committee hearing comes a few months after Republicans called for more detailed data from agencies. But the lawmakers said they were dissatisfied with some of the responses. Now the committee plans to issue a letter in the coming days to gather even more information from the federal leaders on their future telework plans.
    ( - Federal News Network)
  • The agency in charge of protecting thousands of federal facilities across the country is still facing steep staff shortages. The Federal Protective Service will offer many officers a retention bonus starting in December. FPS continues to struggle with staffing shortfalls. About one in four of its positions is vacant. And that comes amid rising threats to government employees and facilities and ahead of a busy 2024, including high-profile federal trials and the presidential election. FPS hopes the retention bonuses will help cut down on its average annual attrition of 14%.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is tapping into special pay authorities to make in-demand hires. The VA now can offer a critical skill incentive to employees with in-demand expertise. That has helped it recruit HR specialists and police officers. The VA also implemented a Special Salary Rate for IT and cyber positions this summer. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the department is setting a high bar for the rest of the federal government when it comes to being an attractive employer. “We have these authorities in a way that many of our federal agency partners do not, and would like to have it. So we want to make sure we manage these tools,” McDonough said.
  • The SmartPay credit card program celebrated its 25th anniversary with a facelift of its website. The General Services Administration spent much of the last year revamping the SmartPay portals to make them more user friendly, less burdensome and more secure. SmartPay handles about $30 billion a year and 770 transactions for every agency, Native American tribal government and other organizations. Among the biggest changes GSA made to SmartPay this year was moving it to the platform and creating a Section 889 search tool to help agencies ensure products did not include prohibited Chinese telecommunications technology.
  • The Defense Department’s SkillBridge program will soon have new companies with which to work. The program takes service members who have 180 days or less before their military discharge, and connects them with private sector opportunities in a variety of areas. SkillBridge gives service members real-world training and work experience in high-demand fields. Each year nearly 200,000 service members will leave active duty and go to work as civilians or pursue higher education. DoD is accepting applications for the next round of industry partners and is extending existing partners through June 1.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs surpassed its goal to permanently house veterans experiencing homelessness. The VA has housed nearly 39,000 veterans so far this year and met its year-end goal two months ahead of schedule. The VA said more than 96% of formerly homeless veterans remain in housing. The total number of veterans experiencing homelessness has fallen by 11% since early 2020 and has dropped by more than half since 2010.
  • The Air Force is working on a new plan to accelerate its modernization efforts and bring it into the future as it tries to keep pace with the changing needs of its Airmen and Guardians. The upcoming 10 by 10 Vision will help the Department of the Air Force reoptimize itself. This is a top priority for the department. Although officials said the plan is not fully done, the vision highlights several areas that the Air Force is looking at over the next several years.
  • There is new leadership coming to a nonprofit that partners with the Pentagon to help audit contractor cybersecurity. The Cyber Accreditation Body announced the election of new officers to lead its Board of Directors over the next year. Current vice chairman Paul Michaels has been elected to serve as the next chairman of the board. Michaels is the chief security officer at Fortinet Federal. The Cyber Accreditation Body is charged with accrediting people to evaluate whether Defense Department contractors are meeting cybersecurity requirements.

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