Some lawmakers offer more teeth to Biden’s Schedule F takedown

Concern remains that the final rule to block Schedule F will not prevent a future administration from resurrecting it

  • The Biden administration's final rule to block Schedule F is in place, but the push still continues in Congress. Many advocates say the new regulations securing job protections for career feds are a step in the right direction. But some are concerned it will not be enough to stop Schedule F's resurrection in a future administration. Democratic lawmakers are urging the passage of the Saving the Civil Service Act. The bill aims to prevent career civil servants from being made at-will and easier to fire. The legislation has not seen much action, but the new final rule spurred lawmakers, like Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), to press harder and call for its passage.
    (Saving the Civil Service Act - Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.))
  • New guidance is out to improve the management of more than a trillion dollars in federal grants. The Office of Management and Budget released the 2024 revisions to the Uniform Grants Guidance. This is the first update in four years. OMB's Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller said among the major changes is improving NoFos, the notice of funding opportunities. "The Uniformed Grants Guidance includes a streamlined NoFo template for agencies to use to help with shortening and simplifying their grants announcements," Miller said. This is one of several substantial revisions to the guidance, which seeks to clarify and reduce the burden on grantees. OMB received more than 3,200 comments to the draft.
  • The Biden administration is working on hiring tools to help agencies compete for AI talent. The White House is planning to hire 100 AI professionals into the federal workforce by this summer. Some of those hires will come from a “Tech to Gov” virtual hiring fair on April 18. Participating federal and state agencies are looking to fill AI and AI-enabling positions. Kyleigh Russ, a senior adviser at the Office of Personnel Management, said her agency is also working on an AI and Tech Talent Playbook to show how agencies can effectively onboard these in-demand hires. “We know that this talent is very sought-after and that there will be constant competition, both across government and the private sector," Russ said.
  • The 2024 Vital Signs report from the National Defense Industrial Association provides a look into the challenges facing the defense industrial base. The Vital Signs 2024 Survey asked the industry to identify areas of improvement for the DoD when working with private companies. Some 65% of respondents want to see a clear and consistent demand signal through contract vehicles. More than 40% of respondents would like the DoD to provide specific points-of-contact in program offices. The report also recommends that the Office of the Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment to engage with industry before finalizing the classified implementation plan for the National Defense Industrial strategy.
  • Agencies and federal unions have marching orders from the Biden administration to re-establish labor-management forums. In some cases, it is possible for these forums to be met with resistance from either party, or even employees themselves. The Office of Personnel Management is offering advice on how to wade through any trouble spots in implementation. For one, OPM encourages management to have discussions with union leaders before making any top-down decisions.
  • The Postal Service is missing more than half its service targets for mail products on which it has a monopoly. Its regulator told USPS it did not meet service performance targets for 15 out of 27 market-dominant products in 2023. The regulator is calling on USPS to take corrective action and to come up with a plan to improve its performance. USPS said 98% of households are getting their mail and packages within three days and that 50% of mail and packages arrive a day ahead of their service standard.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to make permitting for environmental projects easier. EPA said its new website not only fulfills its commitment under the Biden administration's Permitting Action Plan, but also makes its information and process more transparent. Through the new site, EPA is posting information about the permitting process, such as permit applications and public meetings. The goal is to improve the timelines, predictability and transparency of federal environmental review and authorization processes for covered infrastructure projects, which include offshore wind energy under the renewable energy production sector.
  • The public can now track defueling and decommissioning operations of the Red Hill fuel facility in Hawaii. A new app will provide the latest developments on tank cleaning, the decommissioning plan, environmental clean-up and regulatory approvals. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a full closure of the facility after jet fuel leaked into the Navy’s water distribution system. The app to track the closure efforts is available for download at Apple's App Store and the Google Play store.

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