House Budget Committee renews efforts to cut retirement benefits

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  • The House Budget Committee has included a proposal in its 2019 spending proposal to make federal employees contribute more toward their defined benefit retirement plans. The committee also renewed its effort to end the special Social Security supplement for federal workers who retire before age 62. The committee’s budget proposal is moving on to the full House, but it’s unclear whether it will be considered and voted on. (House Budget Committee)
  • The Education Department has told its employees ito plan on less telework. The agency said employees will need to work in the office at least four days a week starting with the new fiscal year in October.  About one in six Education employees currently teleworks at least three days a week. Another 30 percent teleworks at least one day a week. Education said bringing more employees into the office would lead to greater collaboration. (Federal News Radio)
  • In plans obtained by Federal News Radio, the State Department said it has been authorized to add 450 employees above staffing 2017 levels. The move would make good on a promise by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lift the hiring freeze that has left State with more than 50 unfilled positions requiring Senate confirmation. The plans indicate more than 150 Foreign Service generalists and specialists will be brought on in July, and that similar numbers are expected in September and November. After that, some bureaus would be authorized to make advanced hires based on the expected levels of attrition for the rest of the year. (Federal News Radio advisory)
  • President Donald Trump has signed legislation aimed at helping agency inspectors general protect whistleblowers. The bill authorizes the creation of a whistleblower protection coordinator within each agency’s Office of Inspector General. Under the law, the coordinators will educate employees about protections from whistleblower retaliation. The head of the Office of Special Counsel said the law helps ensure whistleblowers feel comfortable about coming forward with information.  (Office of Special Counsel)
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he is frustrated with the lack of information from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Justice Department (DoJ) about whether current and former federal employees are at a greater risk of personal identity fraud. Warner wrote  to OPM and DoJ asking for answers about whether a recent fraud case was connected to the 2015 data breach suffered by OPM. Warner questioned whether OPM is being proactive enough to protect the identities of current and former federal employees given the recent case.  (Federal News Radio)
  • President Donald Trump has nominated Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly to become Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations. Kelly currently serves as commander of the 12th Air Force. If confirmed, Kelly would succeed Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, who is set to retire in October. (AF Times)
  • Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said the newly launched Army Futures Command will focus on emerging technologies when it opens its doors of a new facility to be named soon. During a recent security forum, Milley said, for example,  the command is looking to hypersonics to provide greater accuracy and lethality, as well as cyber and artificial Intelligence to provide better access to information and faster decision-making.  Five cities are still in the running to host the 500-person facility: Austin, Boston,  Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Raleigh. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon said it will give its new chief information officer more authority over cloud computing, but it’s unclear how far that authority might extend. In a brief statement Monday, the Defense Department (DoD) said Dana Deasy will lead the department’s cloud initiative, effective immediately. But officials did not specify what that initiative might include. The statement did not specifically mention the Pentagon’s upcoming JEDI procurement, a multibillion dollar project involving commercial cloud computing services. Up until now, that effort has been led by DoD’s Cloud Executive Steering Group (CESG). The Pentagon has not responded to questions Federal News Radio submitted nearly a week ago about whether the CESG’s role in the project has changed. (DoD)
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said agencies are one step closer to being able to take advantage of higher thresholds for micro-purchases and simplified acquisitions. OMB is set to implement provisions in the 2018 Defense Authorization bill to increase the Micro-Purchase Threshold to $10,000 and the Simplified Acquisition Threshold to $250,000. After  that, the final step is for the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to update the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). (White House)
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has selected Kevin Richardson to become its chief human capital officer.  Previously, Richardson was the associate deputy administrator in the Veterinary Services Branch of the Agriculture Department, where he ran program support services including personnel, information technology and financial management. A longtime career official, Richardson also had stints in the Agricultural Marketing Service, Treasury’s Bureau of the Public Debt, and at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.  (EEOC)
  • The agency that administers the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) said the worst of its customer service challenges from telephone response have been resolved. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FTSB) said customer service representatives are answering over 98 percent of participants’ calls within the standard 20 seconds. It said less than 1 percent of calls to the TSP’s Thriftline are getting dropped. The Board said it has hired more staff and trained new employees to resolve customer dissatisfactions (Federal News Radio Advisory)