Idea of new space branch for the military gets cold reception from defense leadership

  • The idea of creating a new military branch to focus on space issues is not a popular one among defense officials. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva, speaking at his renomination hearing, says creating the new space force would “complicate the command and control of the space constellation,” something he says is critical to military operations. Defense Secretary James Mattis has also come out against the idea. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
  • The House Budget Committee included changes to federal retirement benefits in its 2018 budget resolution. The committee wants federal employees to contribute more toward their retirements. It also eliminates the Social Security supplement for federal employees who retire before age 62. The committee called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to develop legislative proposals to find retirement cuts worth $32 billion over 10 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • Another local congressman is trying a different approach to convince his colleagues to give some federal employees more money in fiscal 2018. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) introduced a bill to repeal sections of earlier bills which raised mandatory pension contributions of new federal employees to 4.4 percent. Under his bill, pension contributions would roll back to 0.8 percent. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congress received an update from the U.S. Digital Service, simplifying online services for veterans and smoothing out wrinkles for online immigration services. Those are just two examples of the work conducted by USDS in the past year, according to its 2017 report to Congress. As of last month, the digital service has active teams in seven agencies including Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments. (U.S. Digital Service)
  • The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental doesn’t have any money. The Defense Department is working on a way to take money from other areas to fund the organization until the end of the year and into 2018. The lack of funds signals the organization is spending money on contracts, something DoD wants the program to do. (Federal News Service)
  • There’s still plenty of holes in the Pentagon’s leadership team. But now the Trump administration has a number-two official to serve under Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Senate voted 92-to-7 to confirm Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, as deputy Defense secretary. He’ll succeed Robert Work, who served as the Pentagon’s top deputy in the latter years of the Obama administration. Work had agreed to stay on until the White House chose his successor. President Donald Trump nominated Joseph Kernan to be the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. (Federal News Radio)
  • Allison Brigati, former general counsel for the National Academy of Public Administration,  joined the General Services Administration as associate administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy. GSA said she’ll provide policymaking guidance on issues like personal and real property, information technology, as well as travel and transportation. (General Services Administration)
  • The White House nominated an academic to head up the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Michael Dourson’s appointment comes as EPA overhauls its approach to chemical safety, following a law passed in 2015. Dourson teaches environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. He’s been honored by the Society of Toxicology and the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Chemical and Engineering News says environmental groups might object to his industry ties. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked small businesses for research proposals on a variety of health-related topics. The ideas can range anywhere from targeted cancer treatments to diagnostic imaging, to mobile applications for post-radiation therapy. The proposals are supported by the Small Business Innovative Research Program. (FedBizOps)

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