OPM: Use up that extra COVID leave while you can – Federal News Network

opm:-use-up-that-extra-covid-leave-while-you-can-–-federal-news-network

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  • The Office of Personnel Management is reminding federal employees they might have some extra annual leave due to expire soon. Congress let federal employees carry over an extra seven-and-a-half days of leave from 2020 to 2021. But employees will lose that extra leave if they don’t use it by Jan. 2. Federal employees in usual circumstances can carry up to 30 days of annual leave over to the following year. But a provision in the 2021 defense policy made a one-time exception to that policy for much of the federal workforce during the pandemic.
  • The Thrift Savings Plan hit another notable milestone. It has a little over $800 billion assets. The plan added almost $100 billion in assets over the last year. The TSP says the record number of assets is a sign that a growing number of participants trust the plan with their retirement savings. The lifecycle funds hit a milestone of their own within the last month. For the first time, over two million TSP participants have invested all of their savings in one of the L funds.
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough says he’s very concerned about the prospect of a full-year continuing resolution for the rest of 2022. McDonough says a full-year funding measure that keeps VA’s budget at 2021 levels would limit its ability to hire 2,000 more employees needed to process veterans claims. It would also impact VA health care. “There would be very serious ramifications for community care. There would be very serious ramifications for direct care, meaning there would be very serious ramifications for care for our veterans,” he said.
  • President Joe Biden is looking to once again reshape leadership at the Postal Service. Biden is nominating two new members to serve of the USPS Board of Governors. Former head of the General Services Administration Dan Tangherlini and Derek Kan, a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, Biden’s nominees will replace USPS Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom and John Barger, a member of the board since August 2019. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says it’s up to the board whether to keep Louis DeJoy as postmaster general.  (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Homeland Security is asking for public feedback on the use of artificial intelligence technologies, including facial recognition. The department wants to understand the public’s perception of those technologies. DHS says the feedback will help drive how DHS designs and deploys AI applications. The agency is already using AI technology in areas like customs and border protection, transportation security, and investigations. Comments are due by Dec. 6.
  • The White House is considering a new way to attract top cyber talent. A top cyber official in the Biden administration is exploring whether to set up a cybersecurity version of the U.S. Digital Service. The USDS is a White House program that allows tech talent from private industry to do short tours of duty working on some of the hardest government technology problems. Federal chief information security officer Chris DeRusha said a similar program could work for cybersecurity. Government and industry are facing a shortfall of cyber talent, with an estimated 465,000 open positions in cybersecurity nationwide. (Federal News Network)
  • The Build Back Better Act got a boost in IT funding after passing the House. The spending package now includes $550 million for federal tech modernization, up from $500 million before it passed the House. That includes $250 million for the Technology Modernization Fund and another $250 million for the Federal Citizen Services Fund managed by the General Services Administration. $50 million will also go to the Information Technology Oversight and Reform fund managed by the Office of Management and Budget.
  • GSA’s Federal Acquisition Institute needs to fix FAITAS, the governmentwide web-based system that supports training and career development for civilian acquisition employees. The system suffered multiple outages that prevented thousands of employees from accessing their training and certifications. But when Institute tried to fix FAITAS in June, by replacing it with the Defense Acquisition University’s Cornerstone OnDemand system, it didn’t have all the right information or follow proper procedures. That’s according to GSA’s inspector general, which has recommendations for the Institute.
  • The Pentagon is expanding its horizons for the latest edition of its multibillion dollar cloud computing contract. DoD says it’s sent directed solicitations to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle and Google as part of the upcoming Joint Warfighter Cloud Computing contract. JWCC is the department’s replacement for the now-cancelled JEDI Cloud program. It’s a change from just this past summer, when officials said they thought only AWS and Microsoft had the technical capabilities to deliver cloud services through the program. The Pentagon hopes to make final contract awards by next spring. (Federal News Network)
  • The first Native American secretary of Interior told agencies to remove an offensive term for Indigenous women from federal lands. Secretary Deb Haaland orders that a task force made up of federal land management agencies and Interior Department experts find and remove the word “squaw” from federal geographic place names. There are currently more than 650 sites that use the word. Tribal and public feedback will be considered, but the process can take years. The Board on Geographic Names, which reviews name changes, has hundreds of proposals in its backlog already. (Federal News Network)

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