Senators hope to help Pentagon prepare for effects of climate change on bases
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- Federal employees can now obtain administrative leave to accompany their children to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The Office of Personnel Management reports that this policy now applies to employees with children between the ages of five and 11. This comes days after the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for young children. The OPM says employees can get up to four hours of paid time off for each family member they take to receive the vaccine. The Biden administration is also allowing federal employees to take administrative leave to get vaccinated.
- Federal contractors have one more month to comply with the vaccine mandate. The Biden administration extended the deadline to January 4. It’s the same date that private sector companies with 100 or more employees must comply with a new vaccine and testing requirement from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The White House says the new deadline gives entrepreneurs more time to comply and some consistency across industries. The initial deadline for entrepreneurs was December 8. (Federal Information Network)
- Agencies will soon have another tool to hire recent college graduates. The Office of Personnel Management has come out with a new hiring authority. It allows agencies to recruit recent graduates for government positions up to the GS-11 level. This allows them to skip the usual scoring, grading, and veteran preference procedures that are part of most hires. Agencies may also ignore advertising for these positions on USAJobs.gov. Applicants are eligible if they have graduated from an undergraduate or master’s degree program within two years of applying. (Federal Information Network)
- The Marine Corps is changing the way it recruits and retains talent. For the past 35 years, the Marine Corps has focused on having young, almost interchangeable troops to do a job. All of that is changing with a new policy put in place by the service commander this week. The Marines will embark on a multi-year plan to recruit more talented military personnel and retain the most skilled ones it already employs. The plan says the service will begin trying to recruit people who already have the experience the Marines need. He wants to create a talent market where Marines can apply for missions that interest them and commanders can choose the most suitable military.
- The Ministry of Defense is increasingly concerned about sea level rise and its effects on military bases. Four senators are trying to give the DoD the capacity to conduct stormwater management projects to improve the resilience of facilities to flooding problems. A new bill would make stormwater management projects eligible for federal funding and support the creation of stormwater ponds at bases. The bill would also support the replacement of paving with materials that absorb rainwater.
- Pentagon awards multibillion-dollar contract to overhaul military system for moving military household goods. The $ 6.2 billion prize is aimed at giving a single company responsibility for managing the military’s travel system. Officials believe the new structure will add predictability and improve management. The contract went to a joint venture called Homesafe Alliance, run by government services company KBR. This is the second time that the US Transportation Command has won the Global Household Goods contract. The first contract with one of Homesafe’s competitors a year and a half ago was canceled when a protest against an offer revealed widespread violations of public procurement law. (Federal Information Network)
- The DoD is revamping its Cybersecurity Maturity Model certification program to make it easier for small businesses. Big changes include requiring fewer companies to get an external cybersecurity assessment. Instead, most companies will be able to vouch to confirm that they are meeting cybersecurity requirements. The Pentagon will also waive certain requirements in limited circumstances. The Defense Ministry is suspending the implementation of the program until the new rules come into force. (Federal Information Network)
- A bipartisan group of senators advocates new cyber incident reporting requirements. The leaders of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees have teamed up to propose a 72-hour cyber incident reporting amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill. The measure would apply to critical infrastructure operators. They would be required to report to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency if they experience a significant cyber attack. The amendment would also require all federal civilian agencies to report to the CISA in the event of a cyber attack. But the defense bill is in limbo as the Senate works out the details of the infrastructure and social spending bills.
- A bill maximizing the use of federal office space has been passed by the Senate. The Law on Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs through Leasing was passed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. It would create a pilot program that would allow agencies to sublet underutilized real estate to any public or private sector entity at fair market value. The bill allows agencies to use rent payments to help fund capital projects and maintenance of facilities. The legislation would give agencies more options to manage underutilized space in more than 130,000 federal buildings in the United States. (Federal Information Network)
- The choice of President Joe Biden to lead the Census Bureau requires confirmation from the Senate. Robert Santos, former vice president and chief methodologist of the Urban Institute, will become the first person of color to lead the office on a permanent basis. Santos was also president of the American Statistical Association. Santos says he is ready to allow employees to telecommute beyond the pandemic and is focused on improving workforce morale. (Federal Information Network)
- A leading Republican asks if federal contractors are affected by the country’s supply chain problems and if agencies are penalizing them for delays. James Comer (R-Kent.), A ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, wrote to the GSA, DoD, NASA and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to request a briefing in the next two weeks . Comer asked three questions about the impact of supply chain delays, including how many government contractors have reported problems due to supply chain delays and a list of any extensions or requests for related extensions that have been granted or denied to subcontractors and any associated justifications.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has presented an updated vision of how it will protect its data and systems from cyber attacks. The new cybersecurity strategy focuses less on systems and technology, and more on how employees and contractors can protect the mission. VA released an updated cybersecurity strategy for the first time since 2016. In the document, VA outlines five broad goals such as protecting veteran data and leveraging cybersecurity partnerships and information sharing. Under each focus area, VA has detailed more specific cyber initiatives such as data encryption or building systems where cybersecurity is part of the design, engineering and acquisition phases.