Amid safety concerns, AFGE urges Congress to increase Bureau of Prisons funding

Staff attrition would only exacerbate the Bureau of Prisons' current 40% staffing shortage, the union said.

  • Union officials are urging Congress to provide more funding to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. BOP has spent years struggling with staff attrition, and safety and security issues. The American Federation of Government Employees said the fiscal 2024 budget for BOP, as part of the recent government funding deal, would only worsen the agency's current 40% staffing shortage. And AFGE warned that a 38% cut to funding for facility maintenance would make federal prisons more dangerous environments for both employees and inmates.
    (BOP needs more funding, not Less, to address security issues - American Federation of Government Employees)
  • U.S. spy agencies are doubling down on efforts to harness open source intelligence. Intelligence agencies will explore new partnerships and reimagine relationships with industry to take better advantage of open source data. That is according to the intelligence community’s first-ever OSINT strategy released earlier this month. The effort is led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency. The strategy said intelligence agencies will coordinate their open source data collection and expand their data sharing.
  • The Postal Service’s rate hikes on mail are driving away more customers than expected, according to a new report. USPS raised mail prices five times since 2020. That is when its regulator granted new pricing flexibility. USPS last raised mail prices in January, bringing the price of a first class stamp up to 68 cents. It may soon ask that regulator for a sixth price increase. But an industry study found that USPS saw a drop in mail revenue last year that was about $2 billion greater than expected. USPS recently told Congress that mail volume fell by more than 40% between 2007 and 2020 and that this trend will continue.
  • How can agencies chip away at the monumental task of reforming human capital? A group of workforce experts has a few ideas. Agencies should target areas like recruitment of early-career talent and veterans. They can also look into strategies for reskilling employees in cyber and rehiring retired feds. Those are a few recommendations from a recent report on civil service reform from non-partisan organization Convergence. The report offers a blueprint using ideas and lessons learned from some agencies that have already been successful. In some cases, agencies can consider restarting pilot programs that were first launched several years ago.
  • The Army is bringing back its AI competition. The latest contest is an opportunity for small businesses to share their disruptive AI technologies with the Defense Department. The contest is centered on Project Linchpin, the Army’s effort to create a pipeline of artificial intelligence. Participants will also have an opportunity to submit proposals for a Phase I or Direct to Phase II Army Small Business Innovation Research contract. White papers are due by May 17. Finalists will conduct an in-person demonstration of their solution at the 2024 AUSA annual meeting in October.
  • In an effort to recruit and retain more service women, the Navy is standing up a women’s initiative team that will identify and tackle potential barriers women face across the service. The Office of Women’s Policy will oversee the team, which will report to the Office of Navy Culture and Force Resilience and to the deputy chief of Naval Operations for personnel, manpower and training. Communities and commands will designate officer and enlisted leads. Both men and women can hold leadership roles and participate in the women’s initiative team efforts.
  • A free online tax preparation tool run by the IRS is gaining momentum. The Treasury Department said more than 50,000 taxpayers have started or filed a tax return using the IRS’ Direct File platform. Taxpayers living in 12 states are eligible to use the platform to file their federal tax returns this year. The IRS is testing out Direct File this year in order to decide whether it should offer the platform in more states. The pilot program was launched using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
    (Join the IRS Direct File pilot - IRS Direct File )
  • There is a new governmentwide website for sharing software security forms. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s repository for software attestation and artifacts went live this week. Federal software vendors can use the website to upload their software attestation forms and other documents. CISA finalized the attestation form earlier this month. Agencies will need to collect the form for all third-party software they use within the next six months.

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