FAR Council: Acquisition personnel can talk to industry, just be careful

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

  • Federal acquisition personnel can and should communicate with industry representatives. The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council proposed a rule to clarify just that. The rule says acquisition officials can engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry, as long as they don’t break the law and do not promote an unfair advantage to any particular firms. (Federal Register)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is missing its timeliness goals for completing security clearance investigations, by months. That’s according to OPM’s office of inspector general. It added background clearances to the agency’s top management challenges for fiscal 2016. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration’s System for Award Management or SAM database is under fire for the accuracy of its data. Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah ), and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asked GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth how GSA ensures tax delinquent vendors do not win federal contracts or grants. Answers are due to the committee by Dec. 6. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The IRS is getting a different kind of help to protect its computer systems and networks. The IRS is employing a “white hacker” approach to improve its cybersecurity. The tax agency awarded Synack Government a $2 million contract to provide penetration testing by ethical hackers or researchers who will have no knowledge of IRS systems. Synack said it will offer the IRS a vetted, diverse and scalable set of researchers through a private, managed approach to search for network problems. Synack was one of two companies to win follow-on contracts from DoD after its hack the Pentagon program. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is holding its first summit on diversity and inclusion. The goal was to hear from agencies who successfully developed a more diverse and inclusive workforce, and gather best practices the rest of government could use. Office of Personnel Management acting Director Beth Cobert said she wants to see agencies come up with ideas they can put into action. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is seeking nominations for the 2017 Presidential Rank Awards program. The award honors senior executives who saved their agencies taxpayer dollars, helped achieve a challenging mission or made some kind of valuable contribution to their agencies. Last year’s rank award winners helped save $121 billion across government. Nominations are due by Jan. 6. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • A senator relished exposing what he considers wasteful or silly federal programs. The latest edition of Rep. Jim Lankford’s (R-Okla) Federal Fumbles has 112  examples, including studies under NIH grants showing kids won’t eat food someone has sneezed on, a $76 million used airplane that’s never flown and $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund with no oversight. Federal Fumbles also excoriates policy, such as Interior stopping coal mining leases on federal land. In all, the report is156 pages. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association announced that it surpassed its goal to give $12 million to Alzheimer’s research. The money came from NARFE member donations. Through a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, NARFE has been one of the “highest and most involved” donors to the cause since 1985. (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association)
  • Donald Trump hasn’t picked his Defense secretary yet, but his top choice is turning some heads. Former Pentagon officials are calling foul on Trump’s top candidate. Former Gen. Jim Mattis is considered to be the number one choice for the position, but since he recently left the military, Congress would have to pass a new law shortening the cool off period for the job. Critics are concerned about Mattis’ military connections. Traditionally, the Defense secretary is filled by someone with no military background to emphasize civilian control over the military.

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