GAO bans contractor for overprotesting

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

  • The Government Accountability Office suspended a contractor for submitting too many bid protests. GAO banned Latvian Connection from filing a bid protest with them for one year. GAO said the small business had submitted 150 bid protests in 2016, and repeatedly failed to demonstrate it is capable of, or interested in, performing the solicited requirements. GAO also said Latvian Connections had repeatedly failed to engage constructively on the substantive and threshold issues raised by its protests. Keven Barnes, the CEO of Latvian Connection, told Federal News Radio that his protests stem from the government’s consistent violation of the Small Business Act. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Agencies have adjusted to the new rules for the Pathways Programs and are reaping more of the benefits. A new report from the Office of Personnel Management found interns, recent college graduates and Presidential Management Fellows are staying on with the government at a higher rate. OPM launched the Pathways Programs to replace long-standing internship and recruitment initiatives four years ago. The report says agencies are hiring more veterans, more minorities and providing better mentoring and training opportunities to these appointees.
  • Sixteen men and women, including five service members and one veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, were appointed as the 2016-17 class of White House Fellows. The program was created in 1964 to give potential leaders hands-on experience. The fellows take part in an education program to teach them leadership, policy formulation and current affairs. (The White House)
  • Twenty-eight organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology came out against the Homeland Security Department’s idea to include social media when it reviews visa-waiver applicants. In a letter, the groups said the idea would not be cost-effective and it would  be overly invasive. (Center for Democracy and Technology)
  • The Homeland Security Department is taking advantage of federal expertise in preparation for future cyber incidents. DHS has developed a unit of elite experts, known as the Cybersecurity Surge Corps. Agencies can tap into their expertise when they have big problems. The surge corps is one of several new cyber workforce initiatives coming to fruition just a month after the White House issued the first ever cyber workforce strategy. DHS is also refining the training offerings that provide continuing education and development opportunities for cybersecurity and non-cyber employees. (CIO.gov)
  • More than half of the Defense Department’s contract spending is now happening without any competitive bids. The latest figures continue a slide that’s been going on since 2008. At that point, 64  percent of DoD’s contract dollars involved meaningful competition. The department’s latest report puts the figure at 49.5 percent, the first two quarters of 2016 were well below 50 percent as well. That’s despite an order two years ago from top DoD officials to improve competition, including attempts to minimize the changes of one company winning the same no-bid contract over and over again, and directions to contracting officers to scour the marketplace for possible bidders. (Federal News Radio)
  • Army officers being considered for promotion will now be vetted prior to their names being sent up to the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense and Congress, rather than simultaneously. The Army said vetting an officer during the nomination and confirmation process sometimes resulted in the removal of officers from promotion lists, embarrassing the service and the individual. (Army)
  • A former civilian employee working for the Navy Facilities Engineer Command pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from a fencing company he hired for construction and maintenance work for the Navy and Marine Corps. The Justice Department said Joseph Bentley faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. (Department of Justice)
  • The Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services is concerned its giving matching funds to hospitals owned by state and local governments, but operated by private entities. The result? HHS is giving federal reimbursements to state or local authorities for Medicaid expenses they never made. The IG said part of the problem is the federal government has no clear definition of “public funds” or “contributing public agency.” It suggested the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services require hospitals be operated by a unit of government in order to qualify as a public entity. (Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General)

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