Monday federal headlines – March 23, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows each day. Our headlines are updated twice per day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon — with the latest news affecting federal employees and contractors.

  • Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) introduced a bill to reform how the government contracts with small businesses. It would require the Small Business Administration to identify gaps in the small-business base that don’t do much federal business. It would sharply limit the use of reverse auctions involving small business. The bill incorporates provisions from five separate legislative bids. Chabot chairs the House Small Business Committee. (Federal News Radio)
  • B. Todd Jones is resigning as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Exposives. He’ll leave March 31 after less than two years on the job. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in January 2013, and was confirmed six months later. He’d spent two years as acting director before that. Jones took over in the aftermath of the failed gun-walking investigation known as Fast and Furious. Jones also faced controversy on his watch, most recently an attempt to limit sales of certain kinds of ammunition. Attorney General Eric Holder praised Jones, calling him an exemplary leader. Congressional Republican leaders said they were glad to see him go. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved a nine-month rotation of a multiple launch rocket system battalion to South Korea. About 400 soldiers from the 20th Field Artillery at Fort Hood will arrive at Camp Casey in South Korea in June. DOD officials said the troops and the rocket system would arrive at the highest level of readiness. The Army is working to raise from two to three the number of such battalions in the field. The announcement comes as the United States and South Korea are about to start large-scale amphibious landing exercises. Defense News reports, the drills are part the two-month- long Foal Eagle joint exercises. (Defense)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration has given the Internet retailer Amazon permission to fly drones during the day, as long as they stay below 400 feet and within sight of an operator who holds a regular pilot’s license. Bloomberg reports, the FAA also granted Amazon an experimental airworthiness certificate for its drone design. That’s broader permission than it’s given to 44 other companies. (Bloomberg/FAA)
  • The General Services Administration proposed new rules to tighten up terms and conditions companies put in contracts with the government. It wants to establish a class deviation, meaning that when commercial contract clauses conflict with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the FAR would prevail. GSA listed 15 so-called recurrent inconsistencies that would have to go. Among them are the automatic renewal of term-limited contracts and the addition of third-party terms. Industry has until April 20 to comment on the rules. (Bloomberg)

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