Latest IT report card means more agencies could get grounded

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  • Six agencies, including the Transportation Department,  the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department, saw their grades drop on the latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) report card. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the fifth iteration of the scorecard measuring how agencies are meeting the spirit and intent of FITARA. Only the U.S. Agency for International Development earned an A grade,  while four others — the General Services Administration and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Education — received a  B.   The latest report said agencies are making the most progress in implementing incremental development for IT projects, but continue to struggle in optimizing their data centers. (House Oversight)

 

  • Fewer government contractors protested federal procurement actions to the Government Accountability Office last year. New data for fiscal 2017 showed vendors submitted fewer than 2,600 protests, down from nearly 2,800 in 2016. That’s a 7-percent decrease.  GAO also said there was a 5-percent drop in the number of protests it sustained,  down from 23 percent last year.  (GAO)

 

  • House lawmakers have asked the Department of Homeland Security whether it knows if agencies suffered a data breach from using Russian-owned Kaspersky Lab products. DHS officials, testifying on Capitol Hill, said there is no conclusive evidence. But lawmakers are concerned the company’s software could be used by Russian intelligence to spy on government agencies. In September, DHS ordered civilian agencies to discontinue use of Kaspersky software within 90 days. It said 15 percent have yet to comply.
    (Federal News Radio)

 

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced on Tuesday that there will be mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all House members and staff.  The policy change will happen through legislation.  Ryan said the goal is to raise awareness and ensure the right policies and resources are in place to prevent and report harassment in Congress. The announcement came a week after the Senate mandated similar training.  (Speaker.gov)

 

  • The House overwhelmingly passed the annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, despite the fact that it would spend tens of billions of dollars more than what’s allowed under current law. The final House-Senate agreement on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sets defense spending at $634 billion, well in excess of the $603 billion cap Congress set in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act (BCA). That’s not counting the $66 billion the NDAA included for overseas contingency operations. Unless Congress and the president agree on a deal to repeal or revise the BCA caps, those figures are essentially meaningless. Without a broader budget deal, Defense spending at that level would trigger another round of sequestration — the same process that led the government to suddenly slice funds from every program, project and activity in 2013.  (Federal News Radio)

 

  • The Trump administration is reportedly considering a plan to end the military’s longtime operation of schools for military children on dozens of stateside military bases. The move is part of a broader push to cut costs and reduce the size of the federal workforce. The military currently operates 47 schools on military installations in seven states, serving a total of about 20,000 students. The proposed move away from  stateside schools would not impact Defense Department-run schools overseas. (Military Times)

 

  • A former Interior Department employee who blew the whistle after the agency reassigned 30-to-50 senior executives has sued the department for withholding information about that decision. Joel Clement claimed the agency has failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for all records related to his reassignment, and that of other department SES employees.  Clement claims he was transferred to a position that he had no qualifications for, because he warned about the dangers of climate change. (U.S. District Court)

 

  • Hurricane Maria may have faded from the news, but it’s turned EPA employees in Puerto Rico into trash police. The slow-going cleanup of the island territory is producing tons of hazardous waste, including electronics, tanks and canisters that hold a variety of hazardous materials.  EPA said it is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to organize the material and make sure it doesn’t end up in landfills.  (EPA)