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Phased retirement, contractor performance, buying cyber threats and more

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OPM outlines phased retirement rule

The Office of Personnel Management released the final rule for the much-awaited phased retirement program Aug. 7, and now the next move is the hands of federal agencies.

Phased retirement is a human resources tool that allows full-time employees to work part-time schedules while beginning to draw retirement benefits. After reaching retirement eligibility, the employees work part-time while collecting half their annuity rate; participants are also required to spend 20 percent of their time mentoring other employees.

"Phased retirement provides a new tool that allows managers to better provide unique mentoring opportunities for employees while increasing access to the decades of institutional knowledge and experience that retirees can provide," OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a statement announcing the rule.

Now that the rules have been released, it will be up to agencies to establish plans that define criteria for the program, including which employees and positions are eligible.

"For many federal employees, this program has been a long time in coming," National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said. "NTEU pushed for the legislation on Capitol Hill, pushed OPM to issue the final rules, and now will push federal agencies to develop programs."

The Phased Retirement final regulations will go into effect three months from Aug. 8, and agencies can send their applications starting Nov. 6.

GAO: Many agencies not adequately tracking contractor performance

Although federal agencies have gotten better at reporting on their contractors' past performance, compliance with federal reporting rules remains uneven, according to a new Government Accountability Office study.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy's strategy to improve the reporting of past-performance information relies on increased oversight and enhancements to guidance and acquisition regulations, said the study. OFPP has been pushing agencies to improve past-performance reports, including sending memos, developing a compliance tracking tool, setting performance requirements and consolidating systems to enter past performance data.

But GAO found the rate of compliance varies widely by agency, with most falling far short of OFPP targets.

GAO listed 10 agencies along with their compliance rates. The Department of Defense topped the compliance list with 83 percent in April 2014, while the General Services Administration was at the bottom with 13 percent during the same period -- although GSA did jump up from 3 percent in fiscal 2013.

Geer: Buy up cyber threats

Can the U.S. government buy its way to cybersecurity on the open market?

That's the basic idea proposed by In-Q-Tel Chief Information Security Officer Dan Geer, who gave an Aug. 6 talk at the Black Hat Security Conference entitled, "Cybersecurity as Realpolitik." Geer suggested that the U.S. government "openly corner the world market" on "zero-day" vulnerabilities and exploits -- those security holes that are as-yet-unknown to software makers and antivirus systems.

Wired reported on Geer's speech, quoting him as saying such a program would be cost-effective even if the U.S. said "show us a competing bid, and we'll give you 10 times" that price."

"We don't need intelligence on what weapons our adversaries have if we have something close to a complete inventory," of zero-day vulnerabilities, Geer argued, "and have shared that with all the affected software suppliers."

WhiteHouse.Gov removes fingerprinting code

WhiteHouse.Gov has removed from its website recently discovered code that could compromise user privacy, a White House spokesman told FCW.

Researchers from Princeton University and Belgium's KU Leuven University have said they found the "canvas fingerprinting" code on 5 percent of the world's 100,000 most popular websites.

San Francisco looking for innovators

The San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation has openings for two new Mayor's Innovation Fellows, GCN reports.

The one-year is designed primarily for individuals with five to eight years of private-sector experience in technology and innovation fields. The deadline has been extended to Aug. 22.

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