News in Brief

Faster hiring for feds, Army mobile and commercial drones

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Senate bill looks to speed federal hiring

A bipartisan group of senators is looking to streamline federal hiring by permitting agencies to tap applicants deemed qualified for federal service in a particular category by other agencies.

The Competitive Service Act, introduced by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is designed to eliminate duplication of effort by agencies seeking similar candidates, as well as by the job applicants themselves. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) also signed on as cosponsors.

"It's critical that the federal government has world-class, highly trained individuals able to deal with sensitive national security issues like cybersecurity and information technology," Portman said. "Our bill will streamline the hiring process -- enabling agencies to share applicant pools so that qualified individuals will not have to undergo an already slow hiring process time and time again for similar positions across the federal government."

The Partnership for Public Service, the Federal Managers Association, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration are supporting the bill.

Army moves mobile communications network into full production

The Army announced that the latest increment of a mobile communications network known as the War-fighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, has moved into "full-rate production."

"WIN-T Increment 2 is a critical part of the Army's tactical network modernization strategy and the backbone of its network capability sets," the Army said in a statement. WIN-T Increment 2 has been integrated into various platforms, the service added, including those for the Stryker and the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, or HMMWV.

"In support of Operation Enduring Freedom [OEF], divisions and brigade combat teams deploying to Afghanistan have utilized WIN-T Increment 2 capabilities to provide connectivity while on the move in remote areas, support regional advise-and-assist missions, and to provide vital network reach back connectivity in a variety of missions," WIN-T project manager Col. Ed Swanson said.

Amazon: FAA better, but still too slow on drone regs

Although he was more circumspect in his approach this time, Amazon Vice President for Global Public Policy Paul Misener reaffirmed for a congressional panel that the U.S. lags behind Europe with effective policies for the commercial use of unmanned aerial systems.

In March, Misener told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Aviation Subcommittee that his company had already been flight testing its Prime Air drone-borne delivery service in multiple locations overseas, but said its test drone for the U.S. had become obsolete waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to grant it flight approval.

In testimony at a June 17 hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Misener used a lighter touch, praising some of the FAA's efforts to speed up its review of the regulatory process and operational rules for UAS in U.S. commercial air space. But he also noted that European Commission is skipping ahead with risk-based rules development, and that the European Aviation Safety Agency is leading the harmonization of UAS regulation across Europe.

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