Monthly Archives: July, 2013

GSA hopes to trade Baltimore building for construction or repair services

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The General Services Administration is hoping to trade its Metro West building in Baltimore for construction or renovation services on its other facilities, according to an agency announcement Wednesday. The agency plans to issue a request for information for developers in the area Aug. 8 and interested parties will have 45 days to respond. The 1.1 million-square-foot building will become vacant in 2014. The facility has a parking garage and sits on nearly 11 acres of land, according to the agency. “Now that the Metro West facility will soon no longer serve the government’s needs, GSA is seeking ideas from…

Senate committee passes bill to strengthen agency cybersecurity efforts

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Legislation that would enhance agency cybersecurity efforts and boost research into protecting critical systems from cyber attack passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Tuesday. The Cybersecurity Act of 2013 would task the National Institutes of Standards and Technology with developing a set of voluntary standards and guidelines to reduce cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. The legislation would also direct the Office of Science and Technology at the White House with developing a cybersecurity research plan that would include guidelines on how to test and build new software and how to improve consumer education on cybersecurity. Sen.…

Senate panel to vote this morning on nominees to lead OPM, Census Bureau

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Two Obama administration candidates for nuts-and-bolts jobs are scheduled to get confirmation votes at 10 a.m. today from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. First up, according to a committee advisory, is the nomination of John Thompson to head the Census Bureau. Thompson, who previously worked for the bureau as far back as the 1970s in such posts as associate director for the decennial census, is currently president and CEO of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, according a White House bio. The Senate panel is also supposed to vote on the nomination of…

AP: Defense Department likely to cut number of furlough days

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The Defense Department could cut as many as five furlough days from the 11 currently planned by the end of the fiscal year in September, according to an Associated Press report. The report, which cites only anonymous sources, says that Pentagon officials are looking at trimming the total number of unpaid days off to somewhere between six and eight. Hold your breath, though–no announcement is planned this week, according to the AP. At present, about 650,000 DoD civilian employees are generally losing one day per week to the furloughs that began early this month; as Defense News is reporting, the furloughs–imposed as part of the…

Poll: More than half of Americans feeling little or no impact from sequester

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For hundreds of thousands of federal employees, there’s been no escaping the effects of sequester-related budget cuts, either on their jobs, their paychecks or both. For the general public, though, not so much. In a national poll this month by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 55 percent of those surveyed said the cuts have had little or no impact on themselves and their families. There is another way to look at the results. As NBC News’ story notes, the percentage of respondents who said they’ve felt “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of impact stood at 22 percent, up from 16 percent in April. But with…

At MSPB, the furlough cases keep coming

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Furlough-related appeals continue to pour into the Merit Systems Protection Board. As of this morning, the number of docketed appeals stood at 4,647, up about 50 percent  in a week. And that number doesn’t include another 4,587 cases that have been received but are not yet docketed—most of which are likely furlough-related as well, Clerk William Spencer said in an email. The surge temporarily knocked out the board’s electronic “e-Appeal” service a few times this week. It has also prompted the board to post the following message on its homepage: “Due to the unprecedented large volume of furlough appeals being…

Lincoln Memorial closed after someone threw green paint onto statue

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If you were looking to go to the Lincoln Memorial today you are out of luck, according to news reports. Apparently someone threw green paint onto the statue of Abraham Lincoln and the National Park Service has closed the monument in order to clean it. From CNN: Vandals splashed green paint on the base of the Lincoln Memorial’s statue overnight, prompting officials to temporarily close the marble fixture on Washington’s National Mall, authorities said. Police were alerted just before 1:30 a.m. and found paint splattered on the leg and base of the 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Park Police…

NIST on track to release preliminary cybersecurity standards

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The National Institutes of Standards and Technology is on track to develop a preliminary set of voluntary cybersecurity standards by October, according to the head of the agency. Patrick Gallagher, NIST director, said at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee hearing Thursday that the agency is working closely with private industry as mandated by a Feb. 19 executive order. “We have made significant progress but we still have a lot to do,” Gallagher said. He said the agency has already held three workshops for industry feedback and will continue to work with the private sector to develop a flexible…

OPM proposes broader range of penalties for Hatch Act violations

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Federal employees found to have violated the Hatch Act’s prohibitions on partisan politicking would face penalties ranging from a reprimand to a five-year ban from federal employment under proposed changes published in today’s Federal Register. Up to now, the only sanction has been automatic firing, unless the three-member Merit Systems Protection Board unanimously agreed to impose a 30-day unpaid suspension. As a result, agencies were sometimes reluctant to pursue minor infractions.  The Office of Personnel Management’s proposed changes follow up on the framework laid out in the Hatch Act Modernization Act, which Congress approved last December in part to give…

TSP board to ask whether sequester and furloughs affecting participants' investment choices

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The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board plans to ask Thrift Savings Plan participants whether the sequester and–in many cases, employee furloughs–has prompted them to change their investment choices. The question will be added to the biannual survey going out to a sample of about 50,000 TSP account holders this fall, Renee Wilder, the board’s director of enterprise planning, said in a brief interview today. At the board’s monthly meeting, Wilder said that TSP participation among active Federal Employees Retirement System members dipped slightly in June to a 12-month low of 2.39 million, but it is unclear whether that decline stemmed from…

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