Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Navy delays NGEN award until May


The Department of the Navy will not award a contract next month for its Next Generation Enterprise Network as planned. Navy officials had originally planned to award one or two contracts by Feb. 12 to develop the massive private network, known as NGEN, but the award date has been pushed back to May 2013. “Due to the complexities of the NGEN requirements, we are changing our contract award estimate in order to ensure a complete and thorough review of offerors’ bids,” Ed Austin, spokesman for the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, said in a statement. Three companies have…

Does your office have WiFi?


How would access to cellular or wireless services in your building help you do your job better? What challenges do you face today without those services, and does your agency have a plan for increasing mobility within its own walls? Federal Times wants to hear from you. Contact Nicole Johnson at 703-750-8145 or via email at

At the Postal Service, new reports reveal the strain of change


“A change would do you good,” according to that noted management consultant, Sheryl Crow. But for the U.S. Postal Service, change has been wrenching,  particularly when it means shaking the habits acquired during years as a complacent semi-monopoly. A couple of recent reports highlight the rigors of reinvention for USPS leaders, not just in chasing new revenue and overhauling slipshod management practices, but in ultimately retooling their sprawling operation to survive in the digital age. You might think, for example, that the Postal Service enjoys an inside track with its sister agencies in the federal government. Instead, it’s taking a beating from private-sector rivals in competing for a big part of agencies’ shipping…

With potential successor reportedly in the wings, Zients running OMB as deputy director


Jeff Zients is still in charge of the Office of Management and Budget, but it turns out that he quietly lost his “acting director” title four months ago. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, which generally limits acting gigs to 210 days (or about seven months), Zients’ tenure ended in September, OMB spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said in an email. He then reverted to his previous job as OMB deputy director for management. Even so, Santillo said, Zients “continues to lead OMB and his authorities and responsibilities have not changed.” For what it’s worth, Zients’ profile on the White House blog still…

Union: EPA stonewalling on sequestration planning info


In a memo earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget ordered agencies to step up planning for across-the-board budget cuts set to begin in March.  Along the way, OMB added, agencies should involve employee unions “to the fullest extent practicable” in any decisions on hiring freezes, furloughs and other measures to cut workforce costs. John O’Grady questions whether that message made it to the Environmental Protection Agency.  O’Grady heads the American Federation of Government Employees local that represents some Chicago-area EPA staff and is also treasurer for the union’s national council of EPA locals. He sees little evidence…

DC offices to open at noon Monday


The Office of Personnel Management this evening announced that federal offices in the Washington area will open at noon on Monday. The DC area is expected to face icy conditions during rush hour, and OPM advises federal employees to stay off the roads until 10 a.m.

Closely watched Defense Department personnel case will get rehearing


There was some noteworthy news out of the judiciary today: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has thrown out a three-judge panel’s decision from last year that would curtail federal employees’ ability to challenge agencies’ decisions on suitability to hold certain national security jobs. Instead, the full court of about 15 judges will rehear the case, with the first round of briefs due in early March, according to the four-page order. As Federal Times reported last year, the case dates back to 2009 when Defense Department agencies barred two employees–one a GS-5, the other a GS-7–from  jobs involving access to “sensitive” information. The two sought recourse from the Merit Systems Protection Board, which…

More contractors see decline in federal revenue


For the first time in a long time, more federal contractors reported decreases in their government contracting revenue last fiscal year than those who saw increases, according to a Grant Thornton survey of about 100 contractors. Thirty-eight percent of contractors suffered reductions in revenue over the past year, compared with 36 percent that saw revenue increases and 26 percent that experienced no significant change, according to the annual Government Contractor Survey released last week. Professional Services Council sponsored the survey. “This year’s survey shows more revenue shrinkage than growth and a plunge in net profit, with the majority of contractors…

Despite expired term, SSA Commissioner Astrue still working


For anyone who’s wondering, Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue remains on the job, even though his six-year term officially ran out last Saturday. In an email today, SSA spokeswoman Kia Anderson cited the federal law that allows Astrue to stay until the Senate confirms his successor. Given that President Obama has yet to even nominate a possible replacement, Astrue could continue to lead the agency for some time to come. Also remaining in place is Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Colvin. Astrue, a Massachusetts lawyer and published poet (how many top-level feds can claim that kind of life experience?), was named…

Postal Service: Accelerated mail processing plant downsizing not linked to new board directive


On Monday, the Postal Service announces that its governing board has given orders to accelerate cost-cutting measures. On Thursday, the Postal Service notifies the National Postal Mail Handlers Union that it is speeding up the shutdown of mail processing operations at 18 plants. Contrary to what some might assume, though, “the decision is not part of the package directed by the USPS Board of Governors,” postal spokeswoman Sue Brennan said in an email. “But because we have had the flexibility to consolidate operations in the past—when we could do so—we’re following through now as the opportunity exists.” For employees at…

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