Weekly Federal News Update: OPM Guide, Holiday Dates, & Veteran’s Affairs

A number of things have updated in the realm of federal news this last week. From firing to hiring, new developments and a call to eradicate old ways, here is a highlighted outline of the latest news regarding what the federal workforce should know:

  • To start on a positive note, federal employees get an early holiday present this year. The majority of federal employees will December 24, Christmas Eve off of work this year. President Trump made the announcement Friday in an executive order. This is a bit unorthodox, as Presidents in past years have instead given federal employees a half day off when Christmas falls on a Friday, not a full day. Those who are considered essential are still expected to report to work.
  • Next up, regulations allowing particulars of the President’s 2018 executive order on employee firings are now final. The Office of Personnel Management has released a guide to help federal managers become acquainted with the update. OPM reminded agencies that they’re still expected to help poorly performing employees improve, as well as to implement more efficient use of probationary periods when hiring new employees.
  • Capitol Hill is renewing calls for a quicker response and release of information about cyber-attacks that happen to federal networks. At least two senior senators want to update the Federal Information Security Management Act to clarify when and how agencies must report data breaches. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Federal System Incident Response Act to add more accountability and transparency to federal cybersecurity. Additionally, the bill would also lengthen the requirements for the amount and type of information that is shared with the Office of Management and Budget and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
  • The nation’s largest veteran’s organization publicly called for the current VA chief to step down. In a statement released over the weekend, the national commander of the American Legion also called for the resignation of several other VA officials. They have now joined several other veterans’ groups who made the same demands last week. An inspector general’s report found that acting Secretary Robert Wilkie attempted to discredit a female veteran who had filed a complaint about being physically assaulted at the Washington, D.C. medical center. Wilkie would not work the IG investigation. He’s indicated he believed the complaint was politically motivated. The veteran who was assaulted worked for a Democratic member of Congress.
  • Finally, a new rule for federal contractors is attracting criticism from head Democrats. A final rule from the Labor Department gives federal contractors organized around faith-based activities a larger ability to selectively hire employees who share their religious beliefs. Top House Democrats say the final rule makes it easier for contractors to discriminate against prospective minority, women and LGBTQ employees. The Labor Department says the final rule will never allow discrimination on the basis of race. The Speaker of the House has vowed to amend this decision with the new administration. The rule goes into effect in January.
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