Another short continuing resolution is heading to President Joe Biden’s desk today for signing. Congress once again punted the deadline to come to an agreement on government spending for fiscal 2024. The Senate passed the stopgap measure 77 to 13 Thursday evening. The House cleared its version of the continuing resolution earlier Thursday afternoon, just one day ahead of the shutdown deadline. The continuing resolution offers two new deadlines for agency spending. Now Congress will have to reach government spending agreements by March 8 and March 22.

The IRS is reaching out to 125,000 high-income individuals, by mailing them notices to to let them know they haven’t filed a federal income tax return since 2017. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said the IRS non-filer program has only run “sporadically” since 2016, because of “severe budget cuts and staff limitations.” But he said it has been revitalized using multi-year funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. “If someone hasn’t filed a tax return, this is the time to make it right,” Werfel said.

The Social Security Administration is getting a new technology leader. Marcela Escobar-Alava is new chief information officer at the Social Security Administration. She will join the agency March 4. Escobar-Alava comes to SSA from the White House, where she was the special assistant to the president and chief of enterprise applications for the last 10 months. She previously was the White House’s deputy director of technology for three years. SSA Commissioner Martin O’Malley said Escobar-Alava brings a wealth of experience in successfully building highly engaged, transformative, agile and innovative organizations with a customer-first orientation. She replaces Sean Brune, who had been CIO for more than three years and is moving into a new role as the assistant deputy commissioner of operations.

The Office of Personnel Management has already started preparing for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program for 2025 and Open Season will be noticeably different. That is because OPM is nearing the launch of a new health care program designed specifically for Postal Service employees. OPM is now outlining its expectations for health carriers ahead of the program’s launch in 2025. One major health care difference for feds next year will be with Medicare Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage. Federal health care experts are predicting a surge in Medicare Part D plans through both FEHB and the new program for Postal workers. Any FEHB carrier that wants to offer plans in the PSHB program must submit their proposal to OPM by May 31.

(OPM tells FEHB carriers to prepare for USPS health program’s launch – Federal News Network )

A program to develop satellites that can track moving targets on the ground might enter the engineering and manufacturing development phase soon. A space ground tracking program will reach a key milestone this month. A project to develop radar satellites capable of tracking moving targets on the ground in near-real time is expected to complete its Milestone B review by the end of March. It will allow the program to begin the engineering and manufacturing development phase. The Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office will not be able to continue working on the program this year, if Congress does not pass the fiscal 2024 budget.

Defense contractors are mostly free from new DoD regulations that would have required them to start reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. For more than a year, the Defense Department has been working on a proposed rule that would have required its larger vendors to start publicly disclosing their emissions. But as part of this year’s defense authorization bill, Congress blocked DoD from demanding those disclosures unless emissions are directly relevant to the contract. DoD published guidance this week to make sure contracting officers don’t take those disclosures into consideration when they make contract awards.

The Senate has confirmed Aprille Joy Ericsson as assistant secretary of defense for science and technology. Ericsson will be in charge of a wide range of programs, including the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, manufacturing technology, DoD laboratories and STEM programs. During her confirmation hearing, Ericsson pledged to reduce barriers to entry for small businesses. She will report directly to Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu.

The Postal Service’s Board of Governors is one step closer to gaining a new member. President Joe Biden said he intends to nominate his former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to serve on the board. Walsh, who previously served as Mayor of Boston, stepped down from the Labor Department last year and is now the executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The USPS board has two vacancies. Biden has not yet named anyone to fill the other open spot.

The grants management workforce will be held to a higher standard in the coming years. Over nine months, the Council on Federal Financial Assistance will work with the Office of Personnel Management and the Chief Financial Officer Council to create a competency model for federal financial assistance managers. The councils and OPM plan to have this competency model done by the first quarter of fiscal 2025. The financial assistance council will also launch a new website to detail priorities and provide resources to grants management employees in 2024. These goals are part of several news ones outlined in the second quarter update to the President’s Management Agenda.

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