GSA tests to see how much employees of low value-added labor agencies are doing


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  • More than a third of federal employees report spending up to five hours of their workweek doing low value or tedious work. A General Service Administration investigation asked 245,000 CFO Act agency employees to estimate the time they spend on this type of activity in their typical 40-hour work week. The aim of the survey was to see how much work could be transferred to robotic process automation software.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is back in office with new political appointments. The Biden administration has announced 14 new people who will join OPM. 85% of them identify as women, people of color or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Many are Obama-era veterans. Chris Canning is a former senior adviser in the Office of Personnel Management and will be the agency’s new chief of staff. Margot Conrad spent 15 years with the Partnership for the Public Service and will lead the Council of Directors of Human Capital. Rob Shriver worked at the agency during the Obama administration and will lead a major workforce policy workshop at OPM. Biden has yet to announce his candidate for the post of director of the OPM.
  • The Office of Management and Budget wants agencies to reconsider their COVID-19 workforce plans. The OMB has said agencies should use telecommuting whenever possible amid high COVID-19 transmission rates. Office occupancy rates should remain at 25%. The guidance is all part of the administration’s efforts to implement President Biden’s new mask mandate. OMB wants agencies to review their staffing plans and create new COVID coordination teams. These teams will work with the new government-wide safety task force to enforce mask mandates and act on a test plan for the federal workforce. (Federal Information Network)
  • The Ministry of Health and Social Services launches its first agency strategy for artificial intelligence. The HHS strategy will establish a community of practice to expand AI use cases within the agency and oversee the deployment of AI in healthcare. The Food and Drug Administration is developing a regulatory framework to control AI and machine learning software for healthcare purposes. The National Institutes of Health has invested in research to use AI to analyze medical images. The strategy stems from an executive order signed by President Donald Trump to boost confidence in AI algorithms.
  • When your agency has a change in leadership, their website needs to be updated to say so. The State and Transport departments did not, and the Government Accountability Office ruled that they violated federal vacancy reform law in the process. In both cases, the websites showed that the acting officials were in their politically appointed posts for much longer than the 210 days allowed by the vacancy law. Both departments say the website’s problems were simple mistakes.
  • Federal contractors are evaluating whether the Biden administration’s Buy American executive order will have practical effects. The EO comes just days after the new Buy American rules developed under the Trump administration went into effect. Among other things, they are raising the required US content of manufactured products of the old standard from 50 to 55 percent. Biden’s proposal calls for a stricter waiver process and the creation of a US White House purchasing overseer. Entrepreneurs are wondering what they and the agencies will have to do when certain products do not have a 55% American alternative.
  • Military contractors may have been overpaid hundreds of millions of dollars due to unclear policies in the Department of Defense. It is the responsibility of the Defense Contract Audit Agency to ensure that contractors are reimbursed only for eligible costs. But a re-examination of those audits by the DoD Inspector General found that in nearly half of the cases the IG examined, Pentagon contract agents never resolved the red flags raised by the DCAA. Questionable reimbursements in these 12 audit reports totaled $ 232 million. The IG says the payments have remained unresolved in part because various defense officials disagree on who has the authority to pay disputed direct costs.
  • Several House committees have reached an agreement on how they will handle the Department of Homeland Security’s legislative and licensing work. The House Homeland Security Committee signed an agreement with the chairmen of nine other committees. The presidents agreed that they would collaborate on an authorization bill for DHS and other laws for the department’s subcomponents. The Homeland Security Committee will lead this legislation. But the agreement did not extend the jurisdiction of the House Homeland Security Committee. This has long been a priority for former Homeland Security Presidents and current leader Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
  • DoD’s rollout of its cybersecurity maturity model certification standards is accelerating. The Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency run CMMC scouts with private sector assessors. There are 100 assessors who have completed the training course and the CMMC accreditation body has approved 41 third-party assessment bodies and has 30 more in the process. These are signs that the Pentagon’s supply chain risk management effort is gaining momentum. The DoD plans to include CMMC standards in 10 requests for information this spring and estimates that approximately 1,500 contractors will need to achieve at least a level one certification in the first year.
  • President Joe Biden has appointed a new chief to the Postal Service Regulatory Agency. Michael Kubayanda will assume the role of chairman of the Postal regulation commission, after serving as second in command. He will succeed Robert Taub, who has held the position for more than six years. The PRC approves postal rate changes proposed by the Postal Service and monitors the USPS for compliance with its legal mandates.
  • The National nuclear security administration will host another virtual job fair tomorrow. The NNSA is seeking approximately 2,000 new employees to join its federal and contract workforce. The Nuclear Security Company is looking for engineers, cybersecurity specialists, lawyers, scientists and others in its laboratories, factories and other locations. Those interested in participating will have a one-to-one chat with federal government hiring managers and HR specialists and contractors. They will also visit virtual hiring kiosks and have the opportunity to submit resumes on site. The NNSA says it will conduct follow-up interviews in the days following the virtual event.

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