Trump administration’s border wall project on hold due to bid protests

  • President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border faces delays due to a bid protest. The White House said construction on prototypes for the wall will have to wait until November because of two companies who were not selected for further consideration. The contractors selected will have to create 30-foot long samples of the wall they would build. (Associated Press)
  • The former Office of Government Ethics director has proposed major federal ethics changes. Walter Shaub said the OGE needs more authority and independence when it comes to ensuring the executive branch is following ethics rules. Shaub suggested granting subpoena authority to OGE and creating an inspectors general office to oversee the White House. (Federal News Radio)
  • Eighteen senators have added their names to the list of those opposed to the proposed cuts to federal retirement. The 18 lawmakers, mostly Democrats, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). All four senators from Maryland and Virginia added their names in opposition. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House passed a last-minute bill to pump $2 billion into the Veterans Choice Program. Its current funding was set to run out in two-to-three weeks. The bill also gives VA more hiring flexibilities to bring on medical center directors and health care professionals. The VA secretary will also have to develop a database to track all of the department 49,000 vacant positions. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department said it’s solved many of the internal control problems that made it possible for undercover investigators to pose as a fake federal agency to get more than $1 million in military hardware. DLA said it will no longer let agencies do business with its Law Enforcement Support Office unless their senior officials sign a memorandum of understanding with DoD and meet face-to-face with program officials. The changes follow a sting operation in which the Government Accountability Office posed as a federal agency that doesn’t exist and convinced DLA to give its undercover auditors more than 100 controlled items, including military-grade weapons sights and simulated pipe bombs. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department also may need to take a hard look at the Internet of Things. Devices connected to the Internet of Things provide a continually growing number of solutions and services, but for the Defense Department, that also means a continually growing threat to security. A report from the Government Accountability Office found that current DoD policies don’t properly cover department-acquired IoT devices.GAO recommended Defense conduct operations security surveys to examine these risks. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Trump administration has nominated a key figure to manage the federal government’s real estate footprint. The White House tapped Dan Mathews to head the General Services Administration’s Public Building Service, putting him in charge of 370 million square feet of federal real estate at more than 8,000 properties. Before coming to GSA, Mathews spent more than 14 years as the Republican staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management. Mathews gets sworn in on Aug. 3. (General Services Administration)
  • A former director of the General Services Administration has gotten 18 months in prison for her role in a nepotism hiring scheme. Renee Ballard pleaded guilty last March to using her position as director of the Central Office Contracting Division to get a federal contractor to hire her husband and then attempted to get him hired at several agencies. Her husband received a year in prison. (Department of Justice)
  • National Guard units are settling into expanded training days. Some of the first armor and Stryker units are finishing up the first year of a lengthened four-year training schedule. The Guard required more training for armor and Stryker units last year because of the complexity of the brigades. (Federal News Radio)