More GOP pressure on the White House to explain the telecommuting philosophy

  • Civilian federal employees are close to a significant increase in 2024. President Biden has officially announced plans to increase federal wages by 5.2% next year. This represents an overall increase of 4.7% in addition to the local average wage adjustment of 0.5%. Unless Congress enacts a different wage plan, this 5.2% increase will go into effect in January, once Biden signs an executive order at the end of the year. If passed, it would be the largest federal wage increase since 1980.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has struck a balance in its return-to-work message. DHS leaders want to continue to increase the meaningful personal work of employees beyond the front lines. But in a new letter to the DHS workforce, Rowland Edwards, chief human capital officer, acknowledges that workplace flexibility will continue to look different across the department’s many components and offices. He directed employees who are eligible to telecommute or work remotely to ensure, by the end of September, that they have updated agreements on file.
  • There are new details about the impact of AI on the agency’s missions. 25 agencies have published their lists of AI use cases so far this year, detailing, for the second year in a row, hundreds of ways they are using this emerging technology. The December 2020 Executive Order on Promoting Trustworthy AI and the AI ​​Development Act, issued in December, required agencies to provide these details publicly. While each agency lists data about their use cases a little differently, most include a name and summary of the work being done. Deploying use cases serves two purposes. First, it provides transparency to the public. Second, it helps agencies identify similar AI use cases across government to facilitate sharing and reuse of methodologies, technologies, and best practices.
  • The VA is counting on a big bump to attract tech workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs is calling on a new generation of tech workers to consider a few years — if not a full career — in the federal workforce. It offers a unique advantage: a 17% increase in average wages for the IT and Internet workforce. The administration made this increase possible through the special salary rate it implemented last month. Virginia’s Deputy Chief Information Officer and Chief Personnel Officer Nathan Tierney said the special rate is intended to narrow the 66% pay gap between private industry and government. “Well, we bridge that gap with the special pay rate, so we can compete,” Tierney said.
  • It’s called the fair chance law. Federal agencies and contractors are no longer allowed to request a job applicant’s criminal history—at least not until after a conditional job offer has been made. New final regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management are intended to make it easier for previously imprisoned individuals to obtain government jobs. OPM also detailed how applicants can report violations of the Fair Chance Act and how agencies can appeal these allegations.
  • An IRS watchdog is warning the agency to do more to address known cyber threats. The Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that late last year, the IRS had from a few hundred to nearly 6,000 known exploited vulnerabilities after the remediation period. TIGTA also found that the IRS failed to track no more than a dozen or so known vulnerabilities, which the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency requires across the federal government.
  • The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is putting more pressure on the White House over federal employees working from home. Republicans on the committee are looking for the reasons behind the Biden administration’s decision to increase office work. They also want to know how remote work impacts agency productivity and employee performance. The lawmakers’ letter comes after White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients sent an email to agency heads telling them to begin aggressively ramping up plans for executive returns to offices this fall.
  • The D.C. Air Defense District gets some new protection. An airspace monitoring system powered by artificial intelligence is scheduled to be installed to protect the capital. The Visual Recognition, Identification and Warning system provides a tenfold increase in performance over the September 11-era system it replaces. It was developed and funded by the Air Force. Teleidscope, a non-traditional first-time DoD vendor, was awarded a $100 million production contract after a typical 18-month bid.
  • A new directorate run by the Indo-Pacific Command and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) will help bring cutting-edge technology to the command. The DIU will provide a chief technology officer for the directorate, called the Joint Mission Accelerator. The team will work on new technology to access government networks, artificial intelligence maneuver capabilities and training systems across the board. DIU plans to expand by building more partnerships within the Department of Defense, and has integrated team members with other commands, including European Command.
  • Over the past 13 years, contractors and government agencies have had a new tool to better understand small business contracting. The Small Business Administration has launched a new portal that provides several tools and datasets for more detailed information across all aspects of an acquisition. The data center features a local scorecard where information is presented by state, SBA region, and SBA region. Users can search and compare specific regions of the country. The portal also provides the ability to know which agency offices and companies have been awarded and received the largest number of contracts in terms of total value.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to ensure that regulatory requirements do not pose a barrier to agencies accepting digital IDs. Under proposed regulations published Wednesday, the TSA would temporarily waive the requirement that mobile driver licenses be compliant with the REAL ID Act. This law was passed in 2005 to set minimum standards for state-issued ID cards. Implementation has been delayed until 2025. Current regulations do not set standards for mobile driver’s licenses, and the TSA says it would be premature to issue such rules while digital ID technologies are still being developed.

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