Defense Financial Highlights

GSA sets higher per diem rates for federal employees in FY2017

Friday, August 19th, 2016

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The General Services Administration (GSA) announced this month that federal employees will receive slightly higher daily Per Diem reimbursement rates for official travel in FY2017.

Per Diem rates are the maximum amounts a federal employee can receive as reimbursement for allowable expenses while on official duty travel. GSA sets per diem rates for locations in CONUS. 

Per Diem rates in Standard areas in the Continental nited States (CONUS) for lodging will be $91 in FY2017, up from $89 in FY2017.  The Standard area rate covers most of the continental CONUS 2,600 counties. 

Per Diem rates for lodging at some 350 Non-Standard areas (NSAs) will vary depending on local conditions.  

Daily rates for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) in Standard areas will be unchanged at $51 in FY2017.  The MI&E rates for Standard areas are based on the change in the Consumer Price Index for “Food Away from Home.”

The M&IE rate for NSAs (divided into six tiers) will continue to range from $54 to $74.  Travelers receive 75 percent of the appropriate MIE rate on the first and the last days of travel.  M&IE rates for NSAs are based on surveys of local restaurants.

Federal Travel Regulations still allow federal travelers to be reimbursed for actual expenses if per diem rates do not meet necessary expenses.

According to the GSA Per Diem Bulletin FTR 17-01 there are no new NSAs in FY2017.  However, GSA announced that three NSA locations will become Standard areas:  Lexington Park/Leonardtown/Lusby, MD; New Bern, NC; and Minot, ND.

The new Per Diem rates go into effect on Oct. 1, 2016.

OMB and OPM issue guidance on executive performance awards for FY2017

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

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Federal agencies have received guidance on providing performance awards to members of the Senior Executive Services (SES) and to Senior Level (SL) and Senior Professional and Scientific (ST) employees in FY2017.

This guidance was required in Executive Order 13714, “Strengthening the Senior Executive Service (SES), issued by President Obama Dec. 15, 2015.

A memo containing this guidance was issued to agency heads by Beth Colbert, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The memo  implements limits for total agency spending on individual performance awards as directed by the Executive Order. 

For individual rating-based performance awards agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees. 

For individual contribution awards (e.g. special act, suggestion, and invention awards), agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees. 

Before 2010 there was no agency spending limit on awards to SL/ST employees and the spending limit for SES employee awards was 10 percent for each agency. 

A freeze on discretionary awards, bonuses, and similar payments to political employees, set in 2010, will remain in effect.

The OMB/OPM guidance advises agencies to the maintain integrity of its awards programs by allocating awards “in a manner that provides meaningfully greater awards to top performers.”  Specifically, the guidance encourages agencies “to use these awards to recognize those senior leaders who take on the most challenging assignments, use exemplary innovative and collaborative methods, take on challenging rotational assignments, and/or have the greatest impact on agency priorities and mission imperatives.” 

The guidance also encourages agencies to award time-off and individual contribution awards to recognize accomplishments throughout the year.  These awards can be granted even if an employee “is not rated at the highest rating levels.”

ASMC 2016 Survey – Online Questionnaire for Defense Financial Professionals

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

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The 2016 ASMC Survey of defense financial managers is now available on-line! The survey only takes about 5 minutes to complete and the results provide important information concerning the collective opinions of defense financial managers regarding their views of status and trends in the defense financial management environment. We value your opinion very much and encourage you to take the time to ensure your views are included in the survey results. ASMC member and non-member FMers are encouraged to participate in the survey. ASMC will award $300 to the ASMC Chapter that has the highest response rate for this survey, $200 for the second highest response rate, and $100 for third highest response rate. To access the survey click HERE.

Gen. Joseph Lengyel sworn in as National Guard Bureau Chief

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter swore in Gen. Joseph Lengyel as Chief of the National Guard Bureau (NGB) at the Pentagon. 

Lengyel succeeds Army Gen. Frank Grass who is retiring.  Grass had been the first NGB Chief to be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Secretary of Defense Ash Carter thanked Gen. Grass for his strong leadership as the National Guard chief.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called Gen, Lengyel a “proven strategic thinker” who “will lead this force with certainty, clearly and the full confidence and trust of myself and the president.”

Gen. Lengyel has been the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau since August 2012.  Prior to that he was the Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation and Defense Attaché, U.S. Central Command, Cairo, Egypt.  He has also served as: Vice-Commander. 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) Tyndall AFB (July 2010-June 2011); Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, HQ, USAF (June 2010-July 2010); Commander, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Andrews AFB (September 2006-September 2008); Commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (June 2004-September 2004).

Lengyel was commissioned through Reserve Officer Training Corp Program in 1981.  His Air Force operational and staff assignments include:  Commander, 149th Operations Group, Kelly AFB (September 1996-June 1997); Commander 182nd Fighter Squadron, Kelly AFB (October 1998-October 1999); and Commander, 149th Operations Group, Lackland AFB (October 1999-February 2002)

Gen Lengyel is the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau and will lead over 450,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel.

OMB issues cyber workforce strategy

Friday, August 5th, 2016

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a new Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy to address the government’s shortfall in cybersecurity professionals,OMB sent a memo to all Departments and Agencies identifying workforce needs and laying out a strategy to recruit, train, develop, and retain and sustain “a capable and competent workforce in key functional areas” of a cybersecurity workforce. The memo was signed by OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Beth Colbert, and the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tony Scott.

The strategy seeks to respond to what OMB calls “increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats that pose strategic, economic, and security challenges” to the United States. These threats, according to OMB, require a “Federal cybersecurity workforce with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to use those tools to enhance the security of the Federal digital infrastructure and improve the ability to detect and respond to cyber incidents when they occur.”

Development of the Strategy was directed by OMB Memorandum M-16-04, Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) for the Federal Government, issued October, 2015. OMB coordinated the actions of four teams composed of experts from government, the private sector, and academia, that reviewed “existing and forward-leaning strategies for recruiting, developing, and retaining Cybersecurity professionals.” OMB, along, with OPM, used this work to prepare the workforce strategy.

The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (issued last year) outlines how agencies should look at cybersecurity work and the workforce requirements and establish training and development programs. Agencies should examine cyber work roles and determine skill gaps when filling vacancies, according to the memo. The Framework directs agencies to improve cybersecurity workforce requirements by: 1) educating Human Resources and Chief Information Officer staff on the tools available from the Workforce Framework; 2) expanding cybersecurity position coding to align with vacancies; and 3) working with the private sector to look at future workforce needs.

The Strategy provides guidance on how agencies should expand the cybersecurity talent pipeline, recruit and hire skilled talent; and retain and develop that talent. The appendix to the memo sets deadlines from 3 months to one year for completion of the requirements in each of these areas.

To expand the cybersecurity talent pipeline, the government should make long-term investments in cybersecurity education to establish “a sustainable cybersecurity workforce.” Government initiatives, such as “Computer Science for All” (aimed at P-12 students), can be used to stimulate interest in cyber-related fields. The government should also develop a cybersecurity core curriculum and agencies should work with academic institutions to identify and address skill gaps, according to the Strategy.

To recruit and hire skilled cybersecurity talent, the Strategy directs agencies to “engage in strategic recruitment and awareness campaigns” and go after talented students who may not seek out government careers. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will stand up a “Cybersecurity Surge Corps” that will send experts to help agencies with “incident response, systems engineering, and enterprise security.” Agencies are also directed to recruit diverse talent from veterans and current civil servants and develop a program of rotational assignments for private sector employees to share expose them to federal service and share their skills with federal staff. The Strategy also states that the government should also explore the use of existing compensation flexibilities new pay program opportunities.

To retain cybersecurity talent, OMB, OPM, DHS, and other agencies are directed to) focus on retaining top performers; 2) develop a government-wide cybersecurity orientation program; 3) develop and promote career paths, rotational assignments, and mentoring and coaching programs; 4) develop and utilize existing cybersecurity training programs in related career fields; 5) develop and utilize existing competitions and credentialing programs to assist employees in qualifying for pay increases or promotions; and 6) develop a common program for training in specific professional categories of employment.


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