Tuesday federal headlines – January 19, 2016

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive.

  • Nearly 600 Commerce Department employees will soon move. Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis will relocate from leased space in downtown D.C. to the government-owned Suitland Federal Center in June. The relocation will house BEA with the Census Bureau and satellite operations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That will create what officials call the “Commerce Data Campus.” They said the move will save $66 million over the next 10 years. (ESA)
  • Booz Allen Hamilton wins a $159 million task order award for systems engineering services. It will help streamline the Army’s network capabilities for both tactical and data systems.  The Army awarded the project using the General Services Administration Alliant contract. Booz Allen will assist with standardizing processes, reducing overhead, improving security, and increasing efficiency for the Army’s Project Director, Network Enablers systems, known as PDNE. (Booz Allen)
  • The decision on whether to retroactively demote retired Gen. David Petraeus rests with Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The Daily Beast reports Carter is considering overruling an earlier Army recommendation that Petraeus keep his four-star rank after he admitted to giving classified information to his biographer and mistress. Reducing Petraeus’s rank to lieutenant or major general could mean he’d have to pay back the difference in pension payments and other benefits he’s already received in retirement, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Daily Beast)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is reminding managers that employees have to do above-and-beyond requirements to earn the highest rating on a performance evaluation. OPM released guidelines to help agency managers as they wrap up performance evaluations. It’s encouraging agencies to adopt what it calls “performance management plus.” OPM said managers should consistently check in with their employees during the appraisal process so they’re not surprised by their evaluations. (Federal News Radio)
  • Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James tries to assure mothers over maternity leave. James said even if the Defense Department decides not to increase maternity leave to 18 weeks, she will still implement an 18-week policy in the Air Force. DoD has been considering more time off for mothers as a way of increasing female retention rates in the military. Policy states new mothers don’t have to deploy until one year after giving birth. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management tells agency managers it’s okay to spend a little more on recruitment, relocation and retention initiatives. OPM said it will approve higher spending on the three ‘Rs’ for areas of critical need, like cybersecurity. The move breaks a five-year spending freeze OPM and the Office of Management and Budget imposed on agencies back in 2011. Agency chief human capital officers must explain what critical areas on which they want to spend extra money to get approval from OPM. (Federal News Radio)
  • An Army investigation said a “culture of complacency” is partly to blame for Dugway Proving Ground’s accidental shipments of live Anthrax to dozens of labs. As of last year, several of the military’s labs that produce biotoxins for research reported to different chains of command. Now, DoD said it will create a single executive agent to oversee the programs. Also, it’s setting up a new panel of internal and outside scientists to validate the military’s testing procedures. And, the department is creating a single database to track all requests for biotoxins by outside researchers.  Officials said they’ll also create new procedures to determine whether those researchers have a legitimate need for the potentially-deadly samples. (Federal News Radio)
  • Mobile IT services is the next category the White House wants to gain better control over. The Office of Management and Budget plans to issue a new policy by the end of March. This would be the third guidance  under the cross-agency priority goal for category management. The Government Accountability Office found in a 2015 report that agencies spend about $1.2 billion a year on mobile devices. Auditors said most struggle to track their spending, inventory and usage of these devices.

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