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Loretta Lynch Faces Day 1 of Attorney Gen. Nomination Hearings

Today was thefirst of two days of hearingsby the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider the nomination of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch for the position of Attorney General.

If Lynch is confirmed by the Senate she would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder as the nation's first female African American attorney general.

While Lynch's nomination hearings are expected to be contentious, with Senate Republicans seeking to grill Lynch on the Administrations executive actions on immigration, management of the Justice Department, perceived politicization of the Justice Department, her independence as attorney general, and other issues, her eventual confirmation is expected.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats made their view clear that Lynch's nomination should be considered on the merits of her character and skills, rather than an as an avenue to discuss Attorney General Holder or the President's immigration policies.

With her opening statement, Lynch sought to hit the reset button on the relationship between Congress and the Justice Department. "I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress," Lynch said.

Lynch said her priorities as attorney general would be "to ensure the safety of our citizens, to protect the most vulnerable among us from crime and abuse, and to strengthen the vital relationships between America's brave law enforcement officers and the communities they are entrusted to serve."

Terrorism, cybersecurity, child exploitation and pornography, and human trafficking were also mentioned as high priority areas.

Facing questions from senators on President Obama's immigration actions, Lynch said she had reviewed the Office of Legal Counsel opinion provided to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and that she didn't "see any reason to doubt the reasonableness" of those views.

Lynch also stated at the hearing that she believed waterboarding was torture and illegal, that she believes "the death penalty is an effective penalty," that the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs are "constitutional and effective," and that marijuana is "still a criminal substance under federal law."

Below is a sample of reporting from around the country on today's hearing:

We'll cover day two of the hearings on this blog.

Posted in Performance Pickup

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Five Predictions Sure to go Wrong: What's Coming for Federal Managers in 2015

What will impact Federal Managers this year? Here are our top five predictions, but what are yours? Let us know!

 

1. Employee Engagement

As Federal engagement levels reach a low point,look for more emphasis on activities, initiatives and OPM discussion on keeping employees engaged, productive, and positive about their work and career. The problem? Many of these often superficial tactics have very little long-term impact. What would be better? Less bashing, blaming and inaction on Capitol Hill, a renewed commitment to employee development and career growth, and a focus on the personnel, administrative and management issues facing first line supervisors and executives.

2. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R)Utah

You might not know his name yet, but when the new Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee describes "Misguided Federal decisions" in his first comments of the New Year, it becomes clear we all should and will know him in 2015. Congressman Chaffetz appears more interested and well-versed on Federal Workforce issues than outgoing Chairman Issa, and is expanding the number of subcommittees from five to six. More attention and intelligent debate on the government operations would be appreciated; however we'll reserve judgment on what Rep. Chaffetz means for all of us until he settles into his new role.

3. Budgeting as a Policy Tool

The House's biggest Republican majority since World War II is undoubtedly significant. But what exactly does it mean for everyone trying to get work done? With another Government shutdown hopefully off the table, smaller but more targeted budget choices are already being employed to express policy disapproval with the President. The biggest so far, a Congressional budget cut to the EPA, in order to "rein in regulatory overreach"\u201d", may lead to the smallest EPA staff in almost 30 years. Another provision, to only provide DHS funding through February, may actually have little impact on the immigration reform effort it was intended to disrupt.

4. Innovation

It's a word we know and hear more and more, but what does it mean for Federal management? There is a growing and somewhat counterintuitive push to mandate and structure innovation. From Congress mandating an "Innovation Center" at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to the recent food safety law that mandates "modernization", can congressionally mandating creative thinking possibly work in our current environment?

5. Generational Issues in the Federal Workforce

With three distinct generations working together inside Federal agencies, there are growing issues for each of the three:

Baby Boomers Will a stock market rebound and an improving national economy combine with declining engagement to initiate an overdue retirement wave?

Generation X Mid-level employees between ages 35 and 55 are already discussing their frustration at being wedged between the groups older and younger than themselves, with reduced ability to advance.

Millennials The percentage of employees under 30 not only remains shockingly low, its actually declining. Even worse, many of these high skilled professionals who are being heavily recruited and developed show little interest in remaining in the Federal service very long.

We'll check on all five of these issues throughout the year and promise continued honest and open discussion on Federal performance, management and strategy in 2015. Please send me a note atjon.desenberg@performanceinstitute.orgwith what you'd like to see discussed!

Written by: Jon Desenberg, Policy Director, The Performance Institute
Desenberg is a regular contributor to the FEDmanager blog.

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Public Advisory: Jury Duty Warranty Scam

In recent years, members of the public have been contacted by a person from a fictitious agency referred to as the "Federal Warrant Service."

Callers identify themselves as a high ranking officer and that the recipient of the call has a warrant for failing to appear for federal jury duty.

The callers give the ""wanted person" an option of paying a fine plus a processing fee to avoid the warrant service, and that if the "wanted person" does not comply, agents would come to their homes to arrest them.

The U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. District Courts want members of the public to know this is a scam. Neither does or would use a phone call to request payment of fines over the telephone for failure to appear for jury duty.

These jury scams have been occurring across the nation, and were brought to our attention by Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeffrey White of the District of New Hampshire, which has recently begun seeing the scam attempted in that area.

If anyone is contacted by the "Federal Warrant Service," do NOT make the payment, and immediately contact your local police or local U.S. Marshal office.

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FBI Hiring Cyber Agents, Launches @FBIJobs Twitter Page

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is stepping up its efforts to attract tech experts to the organization, hoping to bolster the ranks of cyber special agents.

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The Bureau posted a story to its website detailing efforts to attract cyber special agents, and job postings for the position are open through January 20, 2015.

The new cyber special agents will likely collaborate with the Justice Department's new cybersecurity unit, operating under DOJ's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property section. Michael Stawasz, deputy chief for computer crime at the Justice Department, described that new unit's charge in arecent interviewwith Federal News Radio's Tom Temin.

The FBI is also taking advantage of social media to attract new job candidates and make the public aware of opportunities with the Bureau, with the launch of a@FBIjobs Twitter page.

Additional career information for the FBI is available onFBIjobs.gov.

Most Wanted Talent: #FBI Seeking Tech Experts to Become #Cyber Special Agents. Learn more at http://t.co/sAKl7XzVI0 pic.twitter.com/70nvr74lh6

2014 FBI (@FBI) December 29, 2014

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SURVEY – What do You Think About the Senior Executive Service?

Our friends at Federal News Radio are conducting a survey of current and former federal employees to collect views on the Senior Executive Service (SES).

With pressure to change the SES coming from Congress and the Administration, stemming from recent management issues and "scandals", Federal News Radio<\/em> "wants to put the political rhetoric in perspective" by asking for the views of those from the federal workforce.

Questions asked will include:

  • How critical is the Senior Executive Service to the federal government?
  • Is there a problem with the SES?
  • Whether you're part of the SES or not, would you join now if given the chance?

The short, anonymous survey can beaccessed here.

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