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- The General Services Administration has a goal to use renewable electricity for the entire federal real estate portfolio by 2025. GSA said it’ll continue to eliminate fossil fuel use in newly constructed buildings with the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2030. The agency also launched a Federal Building Decarbonization Task Group. The group will explore alternative energy methods and set climate action plans for federal buildings. The Department of Homeland Security launched its own climate change action group which Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said will refocus and elevate DHS climate change activities.
- Federal employees who volunteer to serve temporary details at the southern border are eligible for a special premium pay exception. The Office of Personnel Management said it will waive the usual biweekly cap on premium pay for employees working with the Department of Health and Human Services and its unaccompanied children program. That means employees have the potential to earn more overtime for their work at the border than they would during normal circumstances. OPM said it usually waives the biweekly premium pay cap for work in connection with an emergency.
- Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Personnel Management said she’ll restore, rebuild and retool the federal workforce. Kiran Ahuja said she’ll bring something to OPM that the agency hasn’t usually had in recent years: Leadership and stability. “I commit to being there as long as I have the support of all of you and President Biden, because I do think it’s going to be needed,” she said. OPM has had a revolving door of acting and permanent directors during the last two administrations. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is supposed to vote on Ahuja’s nomination next week. (Federal News Network)
- Biden’s three nominees to the postal board pledged to put service first. The three nominees appeared yesterday in a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. They included Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, who leads a nonprofit devoted expanding voting from home; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union. They promised to restore trust in the Postal Service by improving service. The committee did not vote on the nominees. (Federal News Network)
- The president nominated a seasoned environmental advocate to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Tracy Stone-Manning of Missoula, Montana, spent the past four years at the National Wildlife Federation, and she is a former aide to Democratic Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). If confirmed, she would oversee over about a 250 million acres of public land and one-third of the nation’s underground minerals, including huge reserves of oil, natural gas and coal. The Bureau of Land Management will play a key role in President Biden’s climate change policy. (Federal News Network)
- The Pentagon also released a plan to combat climate change. As part of President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate yesterday, the Defense Department announced its plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within a year, and all overseas installations within two years, using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool, or DCAT. DoD said the tool will be used to identify potential climate hazards to which these installations are most exposed.
- A Pentagon panel said the decision to prosecute service members for sexual assault should be made by independent authorities — not commanders. The advice of the advisory group, which was stood up by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, goes against decades of Defense Department precedent to keep sexual assault cases within the chain of command. The Defense Secretary said he will seek input from military service leaders before making any final decision. Austin has made combating sexual assault in the military a cornerstone issue. (Federal News Network)
- To encourage people to work in public service, the federal government offered student loan forgiveness in exchange for ten years of public employment. But very few Defense Department employees have tried to use the program and even fewer have managed to get approved. A new study by the Government Accountability Office found DoD isn’t doing much to promote the loan forgiveness program as a way to recruit new talent, nor is it telling its workforce how to apply. That might explain why only about 5,000 employees have tried to get their loans forgiven since the program’s inception in 1997. Out of those that did apply, fewer than 300 have been approved.