Senior political appointees, including the vice president, will continue to see their pay checks stagnate. The Office of Personnel announce a pay freeze will continue for certain categories of politically appointed feds. The freeze covers Executive Schedule employees, including ambassadors-at-large, non-career members of the Senior Executive Service, and other highly paid political appointees. OPM's recent announcement is not much of a surprise, though. The same pay freeze has been in effect for the last 10 years.
The General Services Administration's commercial platforms initiative is out from under the glare of a protest. GSA decided to take corrective action by giving one of the vendors, bidding on the Commercial Platforms Initiative next generation contract, a second chance. GSA let ePS-National Diversity Veteran Small Business do a 30-minute live test demonstration last month to help address possible deficiencies the agency found in its bid. That decision by GSA led the Government Accountability Office to dismiss the complaint from ePS filed in December. It is still unclear when GSA will make the final awards for the new CPI vehicle. The current commercial platform contracts expire on March 24.
The Congressional Research Service is hiring a new director, viewed as one of the most influential policy positions in the government. The top leader at the CRS, which is a part of the Library of Congress, oversees an organization that assists lawmakers at every stage of the legislative process. Mary Mazanec stepped aside as the director of the CRS in June, after more than 12 years. Robert Newlen has been acting director since July. The Library of Congress will hold a virtual information session about the position on Feb. 22. Applications are due by March 4.
Changes are coming to a long-used security questionnaire for government positions. Agencies will phase out the Standard Form-86 in the coming years, after the White House approved the new Personnel Vetting Questionnaire late last year. The PVQ will replace the SF-86 and several other forms that are the first step in getting a background investigation. The PVQ includes changes to questions around past marijuana use, mental health, and foreign connections. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is working on the timeline for implementing the PVQ into its online e-App platform.
For the first time in more than a decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made a dent in its backlog. At the end of fiscal 2023, the agency’s immigration benefits and request backlog was at 4.3 million cases, down 15% from the year before. USCIS said it completed a record 10 million cases in 2023. The agency administered the Oath of Allegiance to more than 878,500 new U.S. citizens. USCIS said new online tools, including a self-service rescheduling feature, are helping improve the customer experience for those navigating the immigration system.
Thousands of Defense Department users can now collaborate and share classified material in a way they have never been able to on classified networks. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has moved more than 200,000 users to its classified cloud environment. Users have access to the full suite of Microsoft capabilities with DoD 365-Secret, including Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams. DISA began deploying DoD 365-Secret last year, initially targeting around 11,000 users for onboarding into the classified cloud environment.
So-called draft dodgers, who want to apply for a federal job, might soon have a little more leniency. The Office of Personnel Management wants to relax the rules on those who failed to register for the military draft, but who still want to work in government. Despite the military being all-volunteer for decades, the draft law still applies to men ages 18 to 26. Now, OPM is proposing to give men, who might not have registered in time, a chance to explain their circumstances when applying for a federal job. Comments on the proposed rule are due by April 8.
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is entering a new phase. The hub’s director Doug Beck laid out his vision for the unit’s next iteration dubbed 3.0. The goal is to take the capabilities developed during DIU 2.0 and apply them at scale, which means to improve to that next level, but at minimal cost, with resources already available. DIU 3.0 plans to deepen its partnership with the services and the Joint Staff to ensure the demand is there to scale certain technologies. Moving forward, DIU will embed personnel with combatant commands to help shape demand for technology.