DRAIN Act would move non-security agencies out of Washington

In today’s Federal Newscast, a Senate lawmaker has proposed legislation that would seek to move all non-security federal agencies out of the Washington, D.C. area by 2029.

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  • Another lawmaker has proposed legislation to re-locate non-security government agencies out of the Washington metropolitan area. The decentralization move by Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) would authorize the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to come up with a plan for moving non-security agencies away from Washington by 2029 — or whenever the agency headquarters’ lease expires. Young’s DRAIN (Decentralize Regulatory Agencies, Include the Nation) Act would have the OMB director and the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) determine where a particular organization should move. Earlier this year, Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) introduced the Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act, which would establish a bidding process for states and municipalities to compete for the relocation of a federal agency’s headquarters. (Congress.gov)
  • The director of the Office of Management and Budget  said his agency will conduct an ethics probe into spending at the Environmental Protection Agency. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told members of the House Appropriations Committee that his agency would investigate after the Government Accountability Office ruled the EPA violated federal spending laws when officials spent more than $43,000 on a soundproof “privacy booth” in Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office. The governmentwide watchdog also determined that EPA violated the Anti-deficiency Act, which forbids agencies from spending money beyond what lawmakers have appropriated. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House has dipped into Commerce Department leadership for its next deputy national security adviser. Mira Ricardel, currently the under secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, previously served in the Defense Department’s leadership under the Bush administration and held senior leadership positions at Boeing. In a statement, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Ricardel’s work at the agency has kept U.S. technology exports out of the hands of adversaries. (Defense News)
  • House lawmakers have passed a bill aimed a reforming the Internal Revenue Service. The measure comes after the agency’s online payment system crashed on Tax Day. The 21st Century IRS Act would require the IRS to offer more of its services online and double down on its cybersecurity. The House reforms would require the IRS to work with the private sector to protect taxpayers from identity theft and would require the IRS to accept credit card payments online. (Congress.gov)
  • The Central Intelligence Agency has released new documents as part of the confirmation process for Gina Haspell, the president’s nominee to lead the agency. A 2011 memo the agency sent Congress last week said Haspell was investigated, and then cleared, for her role in the CIA’s destruction of videotapes showing terrorism suspects being waterboarded. But several Democratic senators have said the agency is selectively releasing only the material that paints Haspell in a good light. They said it has still failed to deliver key pieces of information, including details on her role in overseeing a secret prison in Thailand. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force Thunderbirds have resumed flight training, but it’s unclear whether they will soon be doing any air shows. Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno died in a crash on April 4.  The team canceled one show earlier this month, and its commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, said they are still weighing whether they will cancel any upcoming shows. The Thunderbirds practice over the Nevada Test and Training Range. (Military.com)
  • The list is narrowing for a city to host the new Army Futures Command. The list still includes 15 cities — Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston and Seattle among them. The Futures Command is being established to take on the Army’s top modernization priorities (Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the Network, Air-and-Missile Defense and Soldier Lethality). The new command, which will include less than 500 employees, is expected to reach initial operational capability in June.  (Inside Defense.com)
  • An industry group representing 5.9 million workers has written to President Donald Trump about a major federal procurement change. The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) expressed deep concerns about a specific recommendation by GSA to raise the micro-purchase threshold. Under what many call the Amazon amendment in the 2018 Defense Authorization bill, GSA is establishing an e-commerce portal to make it easier for agencies to buy commercial products. NAW wrote to the president saying GSA’s recommendation to raise the micro-purchase threshold to $25,000 would push the government to buy more foreign-made products. The association said GSA’s plans also goes against the president’s executive order to buy American and hire American. (NAW)
  • Four proposals for agency modernization are moving on to the second phase of a  process set up by the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) and its board. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent said she and the TMF board have chosen the four yet-to-be identified proposals on the basis of their impact, their probability of success and the strength of their business case. Kent said other agencies should continue to submit their business cases to the board. More details on the four selected proposals should be out later this week.  (Federal News Radio)