OPM suggests agencies allow more telework for DC-area feds amid Metro track work

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  • The Office of Personnel Management is encouraging agencies to let Washington-area employees use telework and other workplace options for the next two weeks during Metro’s major track work. Work is scheduled on the red, orange, blue and silver lines through Aug. 26. OPM said agencies should review their own current policies and inform employees of their options. It is up to each agency to decide how their employees can use telework and other flexibilities. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The General Services Administration launched a new pilot program to streamline the acquisition process, increase competition and bring new contractors into the mix. Congress approved the Commercial Solutions Opening procedure in the 2018 defense authorization bill. The pilot program runs through Sept. 30, 2022. GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Service said the contracts are not governed by all federal contracting rules, and is for deals worth no more than $10 million. (General Services Administration)
  • GSA left out nearly 800,000 square feet of vacant office space in its real estate inventory. The agency’s inspector general said GSA previously reported a 1.1 percent vacancy rate for its leased buildings. It also found GSA was not doing all it could to fill vacant office space with non-cancelable occupancy agreements. (General Services Administration Office of Inspector General)
  • GSA wants help with its impending merger with OPM. GSA set a date to bring OPM’s HR Solutions organization into its mix. By March 2019, GSA expects the initial transition of more than 462 employees to be completed. In the meantime, GSA is looking to see what help contractors could provide to make the merger happen more smoothly. GSA released a request for information last week seeking input from vendors around three areas, including planning and execution support services, and consolidation and optimization expertise. Responses to the RFI are due Aug. 17.
  • Collective bargaining negotiations between the Health and Human Services Department and National Treasury Employees Union are getting heated. NTEU said HHS declared an impasse after the union refused to agree with the agency’s proposals. The proposals do not include several articles on telework and alternative work schedules agreed to during the previous contract’s negotiations. NTEU filed an unfair labor practice with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. It also delivered a petition with 5,500 signatures to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, asking that negotiations continue. (Federal News Radio)
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis defended the Pentagon’s decision to press ahead with a new “Space Force,” just a year after strongly opposing the idea. In a July 2017 letter to Congress, Mattis said a proposal for what was then called the “Space Corps” would lead to parochialism and add organizational costs at a time when he was trying to reduce administrative overhead. But the secretary told reporters yesterday he was never against setting up a separate service for space – he only opposed doing it “before we could define the problem.” Defense officials say they plan to submit a formal proposal as part of the 2020 budget request. (Federal News Radio)
  • Several industry organizations want the Performance Accountability Council to figure out how to cut the security clearance backlog to 500,000 by end of the year. The Professional Services Council, National Defense Industrial Association and others urge Congress to include a variety of provisions in the intelligence authorization act, designed to improve the security clearance process and hold agencies to congressional timelines. (Professional Services Council)
  • Maj. Gen. Andrew Toth officially took over as leader of the Air Force’s Personnel Center. The center is tasked with delivering world class talent management and care solutions that help Air Force members and their families. Toth took command of the center from Maj. Gen. Brian Kelly. (Air Force Personnel Center)
  • Military families with special needs are feeling the newly increased TRICARE co-payments the most. Kathy Beasley, the Military Officers Association of America’s director of Government Relations for Health Policy, argues that multiple doctor or therapy appointments with $30 co-pays add up fast for some military families. A standing weekly therapy appointment can cost more than $1,500 a year in co-payments alone.
  • As wildfires spring up across the country, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called for a new approach to forest management. Zinke said more aggressive tree-thinning would starve wildfires of fuel. Over the weekend he toured burned neighborhoods near the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California. The park has been closed because of the 200,000-acre Carr Fire. The Sacramento Bee reported that Zinke chided environmental groups that have blocked timber operations on public lands, saying we have to actively manage our forests. (Sacramento Bee)