In the News

  • Biden administration locks in plans aiming to block Schedule F for good

    In an effort to prevent a Schedule F revival, OPM has published a final rule confirming workforce protections and appeals rights for career civil servants. See Drew Friedman’s thoroughly researched and well written story on the infamous Schedule F on today’s Federal News Network newsfeed below. She interviewed me for the story, and I’m quoted…

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  • Why plugging leaks sometimes means protecting leakers

    Congress needs to establish a form of amnesty that, where appropriate, provides an exit ramp for individuals who have unwittingly violated the terms of a security clearance and wish to come clean. Read more at NextGov/FCW’s news feed (https://www.nextgov.com/ideas/2024/04/why-plugging-leaks-sometimes-means-protecting-leakers/395378/)

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  • Senior Executives Association Board of Directors Election

    It’s been brought to my attention that not all my fellow SEA Board of Directors candidates have access to Linked In, so out of fairness and respect to them, I’ve taken down my ‘election campaign’ post on that social media platform. However, I would still encourage all SEA members who read this to go vote…

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  • Today’s job seekers want things our current system cannot provide

    Congress is considering legislation that will enable federal agencies to better compete in a labor market that no longer exists, with tools (and assumptions) rooted in an obsolete, tenure-based system that doesn’t address the needs and wants of many of today’s job applicants.

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  • OPM aims to ‘clarify, reinforce’ protections against Schedule F, but some experts say it won’t be enough

    With concerns growing around a possible return of Schedule F, the Biden administration is taking a step to try to safeguard career federal employees against its potential effects.

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  • Agencies have a chance to propose new special salary rates, but budget uncertainty can cause hesitation

    The Office of Personnel Management is making preparations ahead of a pending pay raise for civilian federal employees in 2024. Agencies have one month to submit any requests to OPM where they want to offer higher salaries for typically hard-to-fill federal positions.

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  • The 3 duties of public servants

    COMMENTARY | With all that’s going on in Washington these days, public officials have three fundamental duties that they cannot shirk.

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  • Hillsborough County Schools Breached

    Hillsborough County Schools system has reported a cybersecurity breach of its information systems but no further details are available. In a televised interview (https://www.fox13news.com/video/1274852), Ron Sanders, cybersecurity expert and former staff director for the Florida Center for Cybersecurity explains how and why such breaches occur, especially at the beginning of a school year.

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  • IRS Faced Setbacks With Hiring Revenue Agents, Watchdog Finds

    The IRS has faced delays in hiring the revenue agents it needs to increase audits of high-income earners and large businesses, according to a new report.

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  • Pentagon approves higher cyber pay for NSA, other defense intelligence agencies

    The National Security Agency and other intelligence components across the Defense Department can now offer higher pay for cyber and other technical roles under a new system quietly approved earlier this year.

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  • Contractors a Must for IRS Hiring, Recruiting, Ex-Officials Say

    The IRS will have to rely on contractors for support with the herculean task of recruiting and hiring thousands of employees, but the agency must guard against potential pitfalls, observers say (note that the actual article is behind a ‘pay wall’ but with the publisher’s permission, the full text is reproduced here).

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  • Fixing accountability first: Another look at the Restore VA Accountability Act

    COMMENTARY | If we really want to rid the VA (and the rest of the federal civil service) of poor performers, we need to find a middle ground between making every employee “at will” and defaulting to today’s status quo. 

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  • Agencies to ‘remove barriers’ to cyber hiring under new workforce strategy

    The White House’s new strategy for expanding the national cyber workforce carves out a key role for agencies by positioning the federal government as a leader in adopting skills-based hiring practices, while officials will also consider the creation of a Federal Cyber Workforce Development Institute.

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  • There’s more CISA can do to help agencies defend themselves

    The leader of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Jen Easterly, says her agency is “not tracking a significant impact against the civilian .gov enterprise” because of the MOVEit hack. But there is more CISA can do to help civilian agencies fight cyber attacks, according to Ron Sanders, the President and CEO of Publica Virtu; former Associate Director at OPM;…

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  • Motivating Federal Employees: I Wish I knew the Answer, but…

    Classic private sector pay-for-performance schemes may not work for federal civil servants, but something called ‘equity theory’ says that neither does the status quo. So what’s the answer? I don’t know, but we can’t stop searching for it!

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  • There’s something DHS can do to help civilian agencies fight cyberattacks

    The Homeland Security Department has the power to do a lot more than just issue words of warning. 

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  • BOILING THE FROG: How Civil Servants Are Being Politicized Before Our Eyes

    Despite Herculean efforts by its Democratic sponsors, a statutory ban on the Trump administration’s controversial Schedule F failed in Congress, and the chances of it ever passing are now less than zero. So, what’s next?

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  • OPM addresses gender pay gap, proposes ban on agencies’ use of salary history for new hires

    The Office of Personnel Management, looking to fully close the gender pay gap in the federal workforce, is taking a new approach to try to level the playing field for new federal hires.

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  • Federal Retirees Could Be a Great Talent Source, If Only It Were Easier to Bring Them Back  

    There are lots of job ready federal retirees out there prepared and willing to return to work for Uncle Sam, but we need to eliminate the biases and disincentives that make it too hard for them to do so. 

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  • Aspen Dental latest victim in series of cyberattacks on healthcare providers

    Ron Sanders, the former staff director of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, said companies in the medical industry are soft targets for cyber criminals. “If you’re a small company or a health care company with lots of decentralized franchises or outlets, you’ve got a huge attack surface, and it’s pretty easy for cyber criminals to get…

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  • Our Accountability System is Broken. Fix It First

    The way we hold federal employees accountable for meeting reasonable standards of performance and behavior is badly broken, and it must be fixed before we can talk about additional reforms, argues one former federal leader.

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  • Closing OPM’s skills gaps: A simple solution

    Create a ‘hostage exchange’ program that requires agency and/or their major bureau CHCOs and OPM’s own senior career staff to ‘walk a mile in each other’s shoes’ and in so doing, shed the current us vs. them mentality

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  • There’s No ‘Easy Button’ for Cutting Government

    As tempting as they are, across-the-board budget cuts and hiring freezes are the worst way to reduce the size and cost of the federal bureaucracy.

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  • OPM must address internal skills gaps before it can effectively help other agencies

    “Help yourself before helping others” — it’s a familiar adage, but it’s also advice the Government Accountability Office urges the federal government’s personnel shop to take. The Office of Personnel Management is at “significant risk” of being unable to help agencies address governmentwide skills gaps, if it can’t first do a better job of addressing…

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  • Say No to Politicizing the Civil Service, But Yes to More Flexibility

    Banning exceptions to standard federal personnel rules could make agency-specific reforms more difficult. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. and more than a dozen of his Democratic colleagues have introduced legislation that would ban presidents from unilaterally establishing federal positions in the “excepted service,” outside the protections of the competitive (that is, “regular”) civil service, codified in Title 5…

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  • Opening Up Jobs for Those Without a College Degree

    To the Editor: I may be an “old school” H.R. professional, but I worry about my colleagues’ mad rush to so-called skill-based hiring. To be sure, many (perhaps most) jobs do not necessarily require a college degree per se, but they do require individuals who can think analytically and critically, comprehend and synthesize concepts and…

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  • Beyond Czars: Meeting Bureaucracy-Spanning Challenges

    We need a cadre of career professionals to take a whole-of-government approach to addressing key priorities. Recently, Government Executive editor at large Tom Shoop wrote a retrospective on the proliferation of “czars” in the executive branch, and it’s clear to me they’re not going away.  But while czars may have become part of our bureaucratic landscape, having a few…

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  • Boiling the frog: How civil servants are being politicized before our eyes

    Despite herculean efforts by its Democratic sponsors, a statutory ban on the Trump administration’s controversial Schedule F failed in the last session of Congress, and the chances of it passing in the next two years are now less than zero. As many readers know, Schedule F would have made political loyalty to a particular elected…

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  • Giving IRS more personnel flexibilities

    The IRS Will Need These 4 Things to Succeed After the Midterms Commissioner-designate Danny Werfel has an opportunity to transform the tax agency, if given the right tools. View Article on https://www.govexec.com/ I was relieved and gratified to see that President Biden has officially nominated my colleague Danny Werfel to become the next Internal Revenue Service commissioner.…

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  • Using salary history in Federal jobs

    Calls to ban use of salary history reveal deeper issues in federal pay system A group of Justice Department employees urged the Office of Personnel Management to go a step further in its forthcoming regulations on the use of salary history in the federal hiring and pay-setting processes. The DOJ Gender Equality Network (DOJ GEN)…

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  • Recruiting and retaining cyber talent

    There’s still time to retool the Cyber Talent Management System at DHS to create a cadre of cyber specialists to fill key roles at federal civilian agencies. View article on https://fcw.com/ The federal government has a cyber talent deficit. With some exceptions (the National Security Agency and FBI come to mind), federal agencies have a…

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  • IRS needs more HR flexibility, capacity

    IRS Has the Funding to Hire Tens of Thousands. Can It Actually Do So? IRS hiring has been thrust into the spotlight, but augmenting the agency’s workforce is still far from guaranteed. When Senate Democrats first unveiled their agreement to invest in climate change solutions and health care reforms while tweaking the tax code, the…

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  • Winning the war for cyber talent

    The Great Power Competition Volume 3: Cyberspace: The Fifth Domain (2022) 1. How We Got Here: The Rise of Cyber Conflict from 1991 to 2021.- 2. The Great Cyber Talent Competition.- 3. Alternate Reality: The Use of Disinformation to Normalize Extremism.- 4. The Future of Cyber-Enabled Influence Operations: Emergent Technologies, Misinformation, and the Destruction of…

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  • Creating more cyber scholarships

    One Simple Fix Could Help Close the Federal Cyber Talent Gap View Article on https://cyber-reports.com How to entice more students studying cybersecurity to work in government. Many federal officials are worried about closing the government’s large and growing cybersecurity talent gap—as well they should be. The good news is that a simple legislative fix could…

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  • Replenishing the IRS Workforce

    Shrinking the Tax Gap Requires a Renewed IRS Workforce Congress must give the agency statutory authority to develop and implement a new set of civil service rules if it is to hire and hold accountable employees with the necessary skills. View Article on https://www.govexec.com/ The Biden administration estimates that uncollected taxes may amount to more than $7…

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  • Drug use and security clearances

    Budding Spies Might Not Get Weeded Out for Past Drug Use Activists say this would be a practical step to help ensure all the best candidates are getting considered for intelligence jobs. Intelligence agencies would be allowed to hire job candidates who have used marijuana in the past, under a legislative provision being considered in…

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