Maryland lawmakers demand investigation of potential discrimination within the National Guard

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  • The agency’s chief financial officers operate differently than they did 30 years ago, when Congress passed the CFO Act. The CFO’s Vision Act, introduced by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) will address this by unifying the roles of CFOs across government, and giving deputy CFOs additional powers when there are CFO vacancies. The bill would also require the Office of Management and Budget to develop performance-based metrics for the agency’s progress in making operations cost-effective and efficient.
  • Two senators are teaming up to get better retirement benefits for Customs and Border Protection officers. A bipartisan bill from Senators Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Josh Hawley (R-Mis.) would correct the error of a decade-old system from CBP. After admitting the flaw, the agency rescinded certain benefits for more than 1,300 officers, now requiring them to meet additional qualifications before they would be eligible for a relative annual salary. Peters and Hawley said the CBPO ​​Retirement Corrections Act will identify affected individuals, notify these officers and provide them with the promised coverage.
  • A bipartisan bill would increase overtime pay for Border Patrol agents, equivalent to the current compensation for other federal officers. The bipartisan group of lawmakers, which introduced the bill, said providing equal pay to Border Patrol agents would boost hiring and retention. National Border Patrol Board President Brandon Judd said the agency’s current staffing numbers are too low. The Border Patrol Payroll Guarantee Act will amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow for higher pay.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking a higher wage cap for more health care workers to address high turnover rates. Congress recently passed the RAISE Act to set a maximum wage for VA registered nurses and physician assistants. But VA officials are asking lawmakers to set a higher wage cap for other health care professionals, as well as a simplified hiring authority, to deal with a 15-year high in nurse turnover. Jessica Bonjourney, chief of human capital for the Department of Veterans Health, said the agency also needs to address issues such as burnout and morale. “While we appreciate what we’ve been getting through RAISE Act, we know VA still can’t be the wage leader, so we have to be the employer of choice.” (Federal News Network)
  • More details are emerging about the decade vehicle that many small businesses have been waiting for. The General Services Administration has updated its plan for Polaris, the $10 billion government-wide acquisition contract for small businesses. In a new Q&A published Friday, the GSA detailed several changes from the draft petition based on industry feedback. One big change is the self-assessment matrix. The GSA changed the total points available to 95,000 instead of a range from 91,000 to 100,000 depending on socioeconomic grouping. It also changed the requirements for joint ventures as well as the requirement for a supply chain risk management plan to be in place prior to bidding. The GSA said it plans to issue the first two orders for Polaris soon, but did not provide any specific timetable.
  • The Department of Defense is making a small, but significant change to its acquisition regulations. The Department of Defense has released a proposed rule to change all references to the commercial elements of commercial products or services. It also changes all references to a non-commercial item to a non-commercial product and/or service. Congress asked the Department of Defense to make this change to its acquisition regulations in the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill. This proposed rule is expected to solve the problem cited by the Section 809 Committee, that the acquisition workforce had problems with inconsistent interpretations of policy Confusion about how to determine eligible business products and services.
  • The Pentagon is looking to move its AI explorer to a new home. The Department of Defense is looking to transfer Project Maven to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. That’s according to Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie. He told the House Armed Services Committee that moving to NGA would expand Project Maven’s reach and capability across defense intelligence. The program is currently out of Moultrie’s office. It uses computer vision algorithms to distinguish specific objects in photos and videos taken by surveillance planes and military satellites.
  • Lawmakers want the Inspector General of the National Guard to investigate bias in the Maryland National Guard. Data from the military component from the past four years found that black officer candidates were nearly twice as likely to be fired than white candidates. Female candidates were also more likely to be separated. Seven Maryland representatives signed the letter to the inspector general.
  • Hawaii health officials say water supplies in most areas of the Navy’s Pearl Harbor water system are back to safe levels after a major fuel leak into the water supply last year. Tests show that all military residential areas now have safe drinking water. Samples from a few non-residential areas are still being analyzed. The announcement comes after massive efforts to flush out leaking fuel from waterworks, and officials said a well contaminated by a fuel leak in Red Hill had broken off from the water system. (Federal News Network)
  • Space Force takes a new approach to military fitness. Physical fitness tests are a classic staple in the military. However, next year the Space Force said it would cancel the tests. Instead, the service will rely on continuous biometric monitoring of guardians to make sure they stay prepared. The Space Force said it will use a holistic, data-driven approach to keep its service members physically and mentally fit. Unlike other services, the Space Force is focused on more digital applications and troops are not likely to be in physical combat situations. (Federal News Network)
  • The US military confirms that four Marines died during an aviation accident in Norway on Friday night. The service personnel were part of an annual NATO exercise called Cold Response – unrelated to the war in Ukraine. The Marines were on board the MV-22B Osprey that crashed in the northern regions of the country. Local officials said rescue and recovery efforts were hampered by extremely harsh weather conditions. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Homeland Security recognizes distinguished professionals in the Freedom of Information Act. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mallorcas, announced the Sunshine Awards for the Office of Privacy at the Department of Homeland Security last week. FEMA’s Greg Bridges was named Freedom of Information Act Officer of the Year. The Vice President’s Award for Supporting Freedom of Information Act Officers went to members of the Coast Guard’s Electronic Unit. DHS was able to reduce the backlog under the Freedom of Information Act by 30% in fiscal year 2021.