Survey Says Customer Experience With Federal Agencies Is Declining, While Another Says The Opposite

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  • The final piece that will give hourly workers who work for contractors a $15-per-hour raise is in place. The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council today issued an interim rule requiring agencies to add the new federal minimum wage clause to all contracts or option periods awarded on or after January 30. The Department of Labor will decide each January thereafter whether to increase the minimum wage for the next 12 months. President Joe Biden issued an executive order in April mandating the increase that would raise the contractor’s minimum wage from $11.25 to $15/hour.
  • The cyber workforce ranks among the least diverse segments of the federal government. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds that women and people of color hold IT leadership positions at a lower rate than the rest of the federal government. Women also make up less than 30% of the IT workforce, compared to about 45% of the total federal workforce. Dexter Brooks, associate director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, says this makes cyber and IT one of the least diverse parts of government. But he says agencies don’t have enough data to understand barriers to advancement, “Data can’t tell you what you need to know, if the data isn’t available.”
  • President Joe Biden is appointing six attorneys to lead U.S. law firms across the country in an effort to promote diversity. The nominees include the first woman to serve as an American attorney in Utah and the first black woman to serve as an American attorney in Connecticut. The other nominees would head federal prosecutors’ offices in Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and New Mexico. Biden has now appointed 43 people to serve as U.S. attorneys, positions that have been filled for months by acting U.S. attorneys. (Associated Press)
  • Federal tech executives are reshaping their workforces. When it comes to integrating emerging technologies, agency IT managers no longer rely on contractors as much as they once did. A new CIO survey from the Professional Services Council and Maximus found that respondents are hiring, training and developing employees to manage and work with technologies like AI, machine learning and robotic process automation more than ever . The survey also revealed that IT modernization and cybersecurity remain top priorities for CIOs. Managing data and using it as a strategic asset has also become a higher priority over the past year compared to previous surveys.
  • Between the pandemic, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, the National Guard has been busy for the past two years. But operational tempo has not hurt retention. Rather the opposite. The Army National Guard beat its retention goal by a wide margin last year, re-enrolling 116 percent of the number of citizen soldiers it aimed to retain in 2021. That’s up dramatically from it only two years ago when the Army Guard met only 87% of its retention goal. (Federal News Network)
  • The House Armed Services Committee loses another key member. Representative Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) says he will not run again after his term ends. Cooper currently heads the House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee. He is a key architect of the Space Force, long before it caught the attention of former President Donald Trump. Cooper joins more than 40 other lawmakers who have announced they will not seek re-election in 2022. Cooper has not indicated what he will do after leaving Congress.
  • The military is creating a certification program for civilians who manage housing on military bases. The program will include fundamentals such as budgeting, conflict resolution, fair housing, and housing inspections. The certification is part of a larger effort to provide credentials to Army civilians to advance their expertise in functional areas.
  • A key Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency executive is leaving. Bob Kolasky will step down as head of the National Center for Risk Management. His last day is February 25. The NRMC monitors major risks to US critical infrastructure, ranging from cyberattacks to climate change. Kolasky has led the center since its inception nearly four years ago. CISA Director Jen Easterly hailed Kolasky for playing an “integral” role in advancing the agency’s mission. His replacement has yet to be announced.
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency is moving forward with its signature Zero Trust cybersecurity project. DISA awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $6.8 million contract to develop the “Thunderdome” prototype. Booz Allen will be responsible for setting up the security architecture within six months. The prototype is intended to be able to evolve on the networks of the Ministry of Defense. The agency says the project will leverage commercial technologies such as Secure Access Service Edge and Software Defined-Wide Area Networks.
  • An upcoming zero-trust strategy gives agencies a chance to review how employees and citizens access government systems. The adoption of zero-trust measures is intended to improve cybersecurity, but the White House strategy should also give agencies a chance to improve how users access federal systems. The White House Office of Management and Budget is emphasizing modern login measures, like biometrics and platform-based authentication. That’s according to Eric Mill, senior adviser to the federal chief information officer. “There is an opportunity here to enable whole new user experiences. But we haven’t really had a chance to revisit assumptions about how users log into systems for a long time. (Federal News Network)
  • Public satisfaction with the federal customer experience hit an all-time low last year, according to a scorecard that has tracked it for decades. The US Customer Satisfaction Index finds that citizen satisfaction with government services fell for the fourth straight year in 2021. The Department of the Interior received the highest score of any agency, based on a survey of over 2,300 people, while the Treasury Department received the lowest score. But another dashboard tells a different story. Forrester’s Federal Customer Experience Index shows that agencies had the highest overall scores last year since the company began tracking these metrics in 2015.
  • The agency that administers the Thrift Savings Plan plans to give participants access to mutual funds by this summer. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is creating a mutual fund window that would give individuals the opportunity to purchase mutual fund shares. Congress gave the board the power to create a mutual fund window in 2009, after nearly 40% of poll respondents said it would improve the TSP. Participants who choose to invest in mutual funds will pay an annual fee of $95 and a per transaction fee of $28.75.

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