President Joe Biden is getting calls to remove the top watchdog at the Social Security Administration. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he’s “lost confidence” in SSA Inspector General Gail Ennis, and he is calling on the president to fire her. Wyden said the IG office during her tenure has been hit with complaints of a hostile work environment, falling productivity and a drop in employee morale. The Merit Systems Protection Board recently found Ennis and her leadership team retaliated against an employee for blowing the whistle on these agency conditions. The Partnership for Public Service’s annual Best Places to Work in the federal government currently ranks SSA OIG as the second-worst agency in employee satisfaction.
A year after deciding to split up its lead technology roles, the National Institutes of Health has filled one of two positions. NIH has a new director of its Center for Information Technology (CIT), but it still does not have a permanent chief information officer. Sean Mooney will join NIH in mid-March as the CIT director. Mooney comes to NIH after spending the last nine years as a professor of biomedical informatics and medical education in the University of Washington School of Medicine and as its chief research information officer. He replaces Andrea Norris, who was both CIT director and CIO. Norris retired in December 2022. Ivor D'Souza, the Library of Medicine's director of information systems, has been acting CIT director since then.
Federal employees looking to retire just got a little extra help to get them through all that paperwork. A new tutorial video guides retiring feds through many steps of the retirement process: How to submit an application, where to track its progress, and how long they might have to wait for their first payments. The video is a supplement to a "retirement quick guide" that the Office of Personnel Management published last year. OPM is also taking steps to try to modernize the federal retirement system overall. Currently, the process is mainly on paper, and can take several months or longer to complete.
The Pentagon is getting rooftop solar panels, a heat-recovery heat pump system, and solar thermal panels. The Department of Transportation’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. will install LED lights, occupancy sensors in low-occupancy areas, and will apply PV film on south-facing windows to conserve and generate energy. These are two of 31 projects at federal facilities funded by the Energy Department's Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies program (AFFECT). DoE is investing $104 million in this first of three sets of projects aiming to help cut energy consumption and save money. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $250 million to make federal facilities more energy efficient.
The U.S. Central Command is looking for technology talent from outside the government to join the command for short-term tech duty. CENTCOM’s new tech-residency program needs professionals with aeronautical or electrical engineering experience and an interest in 3D-printed drones. Potential candidates will be able to join for three-to-six-month cycles to solve CENTCOM's pressing tech challenges. Egon Rinderer, CENTCOM’s inaugural tech resident, will focus on operational challenges around data integration and enhanced analytics.
The list is out for this year's finalists for the President Management Fellows program. The 825 finalists were selected from more than 7,000 applicants. If they accept their offers, each member of the incoming PMF class will enter agencies as a GS-9. But depending on their experience, agencies can also bump them up to a GS-11 or GS-12. The PMF program, now in its 46th year, aims to bring more early-career talent into government and is open to applicants with advanced degrees.
The Postal Service saw a more than $2 billion net loss for the first quarter of the fiscal year. That is more than double the loss it saw a year ago. USPS said the loss is mostly because of expenses outside its control, like higher inflation. But the agency said the results are not all bad. USPS saw growth in its total revenue and its package business. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the agency is planning to roll out same-day and next-day shipping services to keep growing its package business.
A federal judge has cleared the way for TriWest Healthcare Alliance to be the Tricare West Region’s new manager. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims affirmed the Defense Health Agency’s decision to award the $65.1 billion contract to TriWest. Health Net protested the decision in court last year, alleging the contract award was flawed. The judge’s ruling resolves a dispute that lasted for over a year. DoD said the new contracts will improve health care for nearly 10 million beneficiaries in DoD hospitals and clinics.