Supreme Court rules public officials cannot block critics on social media, even from personal accounts

The Supreme Court ruling attempts to resolve the line between public and private activity on social media.

  • If you are a public official who uses social media, be careful about hitting that “block” button. The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that in some cases, public officials can be sued for blocking their critics, even if they are posting from their individual accounts. The court decision tried to resolve the line between public and private activity on social media. In a unanimous decision, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote that when government employees make official statements with their personal accounts, they need to at least allow pushback from the public.
  • There is a new director for the federal agency in charge of security clearances. The Defense Department has picked David Cattler to take over the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Cattler has previously served as an intelligence enterprise mission manager in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Most recently, he served as assistant secretary general for intelligence and security at NATO. Cattler replaces Acting Director Daniel Lecce, who has been serving in an acting capacity since September 2023 and who will return to the position of deputy director. Cattler’s appointment will be effective March 24.
  • The General Services Administration has taken another step, with yet another workaround, to make buying cloud services easier for agencies, and bring it more in line with industry standards. GSA issued its second acquisition letter in just over two years on Friday, giving its contracting officers permission to move closer to buying cloud services “by the drink,” or through a consumption-based model. GSA's memo said under certain conditions, agencies can use upfront payments to buy software-as-a-service. The letter also said if agencies meet these six requirements, then buying SaaS does not violate federal procurement law prohibiting advanced payments.
  • The White House's budget request highlights a long-standing pay issue for some federal employees. The Biden administration said it wants to look at possible ways to address a phenomenon called "pay compression" for federal employees. Some senior-level feds do not get the full federal pay raise each year, due to legal pay caps. In the 2025 budget request, the Biden administration said it is considering several potential responses to the issue. Those include possibilities like increasing Executive Schedule pay bands, or modifying how pay rates get adjusted each year. But so far, the administration has not put forward an official legislative proposal.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has more than two dozen recommendations on his desk to boost women’s representation in the armed services. Among other things, a federal advisory committee said it is looking for new recruiting and retention initiatives for servicewomen, changes in physical fitness standards, and programs to increase the number of female pilots. The recommendations come from the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.
  • Congress’s funding deal earlier this month maintained the higher pay rates that federal wildland firefighters have had for the last two years. But the temporary pay increase will only last until Sept. 30. Now, the frontline employees are calling for a permanent pay hike. The National Federation of Federal Employees is once again urging lawmakers to take up the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act. If enacted, the bill would give federal firefighters a permanent raise of either 50% added to their base pay, or an extra $20,000 annually — whichever number is lower.
  • Contracting officers and other acquisition professionals can now get a credential in category management acquisition. The Category Management program management office is now offering the first-ever set of training courses comprised of nine hours of training and eight courses. The sessions focus on the essential aspects of category management, such as processes and practices, governance and regulatory structures, and fundamental terminology. In 2019, the Office of Management and Budget required the Category Management program management office to develop the training as part of its memo promoting the use of these buying practices.
  • While the award lead times have generally decreased for defense contracts and orders in the last several years, it takes longer for the Defense Department to award larger contracts, according to the Government Accountability Office. The government watchdog agency said the award lead times vary depending on total contract value, contracting approach, contract type, extent of competition and the type of product or service procured. For example, the award time on orders valued at over $50 million increased by 70 days in the last four years. But DoD still does not have departmentwide visibility and understanding of the award times.

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