New instructions to help agencies to re-establish relationships with federal employee unions

In today's Federal Newscast, agencies and federal unions just got marching orders to re-establish labor-management forums.

  • President Joe Biden is expected to send his fiscal 2025 budget request to Congress today. The annual exercise comes on the heels of Congress just finishing the first set of 2024 spending bills for six agencies on Friday. Biden signed the appropriations bills into law on Saturday for several agencies, including the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce and Justice. Congress is expected this week to also start work on spending bills for the rest of the government, trying to complete them before March 22 when the next continuing resolution expires.
  • More feds at the Interior Department are about to see changes to their in-office requirements. Starting April 21, all non-union employees at Interior offices nationwide will have to work in person at least 50% of the time, Federal News Network has confirmed. The announcement comes after senior-level feds at Interior began working in the office more often in February. Interior’s bargaining unit employees haven’t yet seen any telework changes. The American Federation of Government Employees is still negotiating with management on the union's telework agreement. But after the latest announcement from Interior leaders, AFGE official Meka Lawson says she’s concerned about a possible decrease coming to telework.
  • Lawmakers want to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from digital thievery. The Department of Agriculture would need to create stronger security requirements for SNAP cards under a new bill in the Senate. Proponents of the bill say thieves have stolen tens of millions of dollars from the program. SNAP cards currently lack modern chip technology to prevent skimming and other forms of passive fraud. The new legislation would require USDA to issue updated anti-fraud regulations every five years.
  • Agencies and federal unions just got marching orders to re-establish labor-management forums. Now the Federal Labor Relations Authority is trying to help get agencies started on the new requirements from an executive order President Biden signed last week. The FLRA is offering several training opportunities for both union leaders and agency managers. The trainings will detail what the forums are, and how they can be used most effectively, the FLRA says. Generally, labor-management forums are a tool agencies can use to resolve employee concerns before they escalate.
    (Labor-management forums press release - Federal Labor Relations Authority)
  • The Defense Department is on the hook for a report to Congress on how it is buying software-as-a-service, and it's seeking help from industry to explain the process. DoD released a request for information to industry, with a specific focus on small businesses and non-traditional companies, to get feedback on three questions. The Pentagon wants vendors to comment on the value SaaS may bring to DoD, how software-as-a-service is treated in acquisition policy and whether there is a bias in policy or other factors that are impeding SaaS delivery models or products. Responses to the RFI are due by March 22.
  • The Air Force is looking for vendors to operate and maintain its network infrastructure. The branch is seeking to modernize its network infrastructure across the service, including Guard and Reserve bases. The Air Force looks to award multiple indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts with a five-year base period and one five-year option period. The total value of all contracts awarded is $12.5 billion. The contracts will be full and open competition, with a portion of the awards reserved for small businesses. Some awards will be reserved for women-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
  • The Defense Department will subscribe to 75 megawatts of emissions-free solar energy. By joining Florida Power and Light company’s solar program, the department aims to support its carbon-free electricity goal and build a robust and domestically based electricity supply chain by 2030. Participation in the program will save the Defense Department $2 million over the next decade. The department will enroll military installations within the company’s service area, including Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Installations will pay a fixed monthly subscription charge which is fixed, while their credit increases every year, helping to lower their bills over time.
  • the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is turning its attention to securing open source software. Calling it a national security imperative, CISA and the White House are leading a new effort to bring more rigor to open source software. CISA and the Office of the National Cyber Coordinator are teaming up with the open source community to further the adoption of security principles for repositories. CISA also is pushing voluntary collaboration and cyber defense information sharing with open source software infrastructure operators. CISA says this new focus on open source was underscored by security flaws such as the Log4Shell vulnerability in 2021.
    (CISA pushing for more rigor for open source software - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency)
  • As agencies move more data and services to cloud computing, the National Security Agency has some new recommendations for securing cloud environments. The NSA’s top 10 cloud security mitigations include upholding the shared responsibility model, and using secure identity management, including multifactor authentication. The guidance also emphasizes the importance of managing logs to hunt for potential cyber threats. The NSA says hackers are likely to ramp up their targeting of cloud environments, especially misconfigured and unmonitored systems.


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