Beyond the headlines involving a new name for the B-21 long-range strike bomber, a doubling of the Air Force’s drone pilots and several new initiatives by the new chief of staff, there was an abundance of lesser-noticed news during the three days of events at the Air Force Association’s annual conference.
An Energy Department scientist told members of the House Science, Space and Technology committee on Wednesday that management sought to fire her for defending funding certain research during a congressional briefing.
The Air Force is set to begin training some of its enlisted members to fly aircraft next month — the first time it’s done so since it became a separate military service in 1947.
Several good government and oversight organizations, along with eight individual whistleblowers, wrote to House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) in support of the whistleblower protections included in the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act. But they had some tough criticism for the changes the bill would make to due process rights for VA executives.
In the wake of two troubling reports on the work practices of patent examiners, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee defended her agency’s policies and practices before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
The Veterans Affairs Department paid roughly $5 million to some employees to settle disciplinary actions, according to House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.). VA made 208 settlement agreements with employees between July 2014 and the present. The department used monetary payouts to settle 72 percent of those cases.
The House is moving forward on a bill that would shorten the time in which Veterans Affairs employees and senior executives could appeal disciplinary actions and removals. The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 also includes provisions that would change the veterans’ appeals process, but the bill is drawing ire from the Obama administration, House Democrats and federal employee groups.
Trade groups representing banks and credit unions say they haven’t had enough time to study the DoD’s rules to protect servicemembers from predatory loans.
A Commerce Department Inspector General report revealed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office paid $18.3 million over a 15-month period to employees who may have falsely reported their time and attendance.
TSA released a determination on collective bargaining on Aug. 25, which changed some of the rules between the agency and the union. AFGE and TSA are currently involved in extended contract negotiations after TSA employees voted down the agreement reached in late 2015.
Air Force senior leaders routinely point out that their service is the busiest it’s been in decades. They’ve now decided to partially compensate by scaling back duties that aren’t exactly core warfighting functions.
Agencies admitted that when it comes to telework, they’re still flying by the seat of their pants. The Office of Personnel Management is asking agencies to look more closely at their reports on employees’ telework usage and success.
When labor-management relationships are strong, employee engagement improves, federal union leaders said during a discussion at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service conference in Chicago. Union leaders say their partnerships with agencies have improved over the past eight years, but the success of those partnerships too often depends on the administration.
The Air Force said Wednesday that it would begin offering retention bonuses of up to $35,000 to entice its unmanned aircraft pilots to stay in the military as part of an ongoing “get-well” plan for a workforce that’s been stretched extremely thin.
TRICARE contract protests are now so inevitable that a company might want to file one even if they’re one of the winners.