New COVID guidelines for federal agencies to match CDC recommendations

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  • The Federal Workforce Safety Task Force has new guidelines for COVID masking and testing for federal agencies. It’s supposed to match the latest CDC guidelines, which take stock of the impact of the virus on health care systems in every US county. The task force said federal offices with “low” or “medium” community levels do not need to require masking. “Medium” tier locations should use their existing protocols for COVID testing. And locations that the CDC deems at “high” community levels should enforce both masks and screening. The latest guidelines apply to everyone and make no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
  • A select group of State Department employees will be brutally singled out if Russia gets its way. The names and addresses of Ukrainians who worked at the US embassy in Kyiv, known as foreign service nationals, are likely known to Russian forces, said Ambassador Eric Rubin, chairman of the American Foreign Service Association. Rubin, who served in both Moscow and Kyiv, said Russian officials forced the State Department to fire 1,000 Russian foreign service nationals. (Federal News Network)
  • The Ministry of Justice is working with the National Academy of Public Administration to review its staffing. NAPA will conduct a study of DOJ classifications and job descriptions. It will also make recommendations on how to ensure compliance and implement evidence-based classifications. It will also help the DOJ develop an implementation plan and metrics to measure success. NAPA is seeking fellows to complete the five-member panel for this study.
  • A federal appeals court found the Postal Service failed to meet salary requirements for its managers and supervisors. A three-judge panel found the USPS is failing to meet a legal obligation to ensure managers and supervisors are paid close to what they could earn in the private sector. United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rules in favor of the National Association of Postal Supervisors, which argues that the USPS failed to take steps to ensure that compensation for managers and supervisors was higher than what the employees they supervise earn. The ruling also asserts that the association is able to represent nearly all USPS supervisors and managers, whether the agency classifies them as field, regional, or headquarters employees. (Federal News Network)
  • Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs may be subject to the same dismissal, demotion and suspension policies as other federal employees. Pennsylvania Representatives Connor Lamb (D) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R) introduced a bill this month to protect VA workers from improper discipline. The bill would restore the power of arbitrators to reduce any penalty imposed on employees by VA. The bill would also increase the burden of proof needed for VA to penalize an employee for misconduct.
  • Secretary Denis McDonough is challenging the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development to get more veterans into permanent housing. McDonough’s new goals to reduce veteran homelessness would build on progress the two agencies have made since 2009. Among the new goals would be placing at least 1,500 homeless veterans in a permanent housing, which would represent an increase of more than 10% in the number of permanent housing. placements since 2021. Another goal would be to increase the number of VA-HUD supportive housing vouchers to 75%. That would be the highest rate since 2018. A third goal is to increase the percentage of veterans housed within 90 days of admission to the HUD-VASH program to 50 percent.
  • A former federal director of innovation has harsh words on his way out. Sultan Meghji lasted about a year during his first stint in the public sector. He left Feb. 18 after spending the last 12 months as the FDIC’s Chief Innovation Officer. Meghji revealed his frustrations in a column for Bloomberg about what got him fired. He said the federal bureaucracy is both hesitant and hostile to technological change. And it jeopardizes America’s global financial leadership. He said a lack of technical expertise, too little ongoing training and not enough collaboration are all contributing factors to a lagging financial system.
  • The General Services Administration puts 25 private sector business and technology experts to work in the federal government through its Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Two new agencies will work with fellows this year: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FEMA. The GSA said this year’s cohort focuses specifically on empowering the federal workforce and improving government efficiency.
  • The Department of Defense has awarded nearly $2 billion to begin building the space-based communications backbone of the Army’s vision for Joint Joint Command and Control. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and York Space Systems will each build 42 satellites. The Space Development Agency said it would form an interoperable mesh network using laser communication in low Earth orbit. The first launches are expected to begin in September 2024. (Federal News Network)
  • Leidos has won a contract to provide IT services to defense agencies worth nearly $12 billion over the next nine years. The award is the industry’s largest component of the DoD’s Fourth Estate Network Optimization (4ENO) initiative. This project gives the Defense Information Systems Agency responsibility for shared computing services for 22 organizations separate from the DoD. DISA said the new contract will help consolidate these agencies’ IT operations into a “single digital enterprise”.
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