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The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council introduced an interim rule to enforce the Homeland Security Department’s ban of the cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab. DHS issued the ban over Kaspersky’s alleged ties to the Kremlin. (Federal Register)
The 2019 defense authorization bill could be law by the end of July, according to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). Thornberry said since the Senate and the House both agree on a top line number of $714 billion for the Pentagon next year, negotiations over the bill should go smoothly.
Senate Democrats said they fear the administration’s proposed retirement changes would hurt agencies’ ability to recruit and retain top talent. 26 senators told Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon they’re willing to help OPM develop other legislative proposals which don’t hurt current benefits but serve as a recruitment tool for new talent. (Federal News Radio)
23 senior House Democrats now said they want President Trump to rescind his most recent three executive orders on the federal workforce. They wrote to the president, saying the orders’ limits on official time and grievance procedures would strip federal employees of their whistleblower protections. House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) were among the members who raised concern about the executive orders. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
A few House Democrats hope to repeal the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act President Trump signed last summer. Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced the VA Personnel Equity Act to do so. VA has changed its performance improvement plan procedures since the accountability act’s passage. It also fired 400 more people in fiscal 2017 compared to the previous year. (American Federation of Government Employees)
All but one Veterans Affairs medical center has staffing shortages in both clinical and nonclinical positions. VA’s inspector general reviewed self-reported staffing numbers from all of VA’s 140 medical centers. Directors said medical officers, nurses, human resources managers and police occupations are the most difficult positions to fill. They said high staff turnover and non-competitive salaries are the reasons for their staffing challenges. There’s also a lack of qualified applicants. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)
The Navy and Air Force worry they’ll lose some of their most skilled maintenance personnel unless Congress relaxes some hiring restrictions for civilian employees. Military officials are concerned about a cooling-off period that requires military personnel to wait 180 days after they retire before they can be re-hired to do similar jobs as government civilians. Officials told Congress yesterday it’s a particular problem for the government’s depot maintenance facilities, which need highly-specialized skills to work on everything from nuclear reactors to airplane wings. The waiting period was set aside in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but took effect once again in 2017. (Federal News Radio)
Senior Air Force officials will be meeting this week at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The focus will be on strategy, acquisition, science, technology and innovation. The yearly meeting was dubbed Corona Top. Senior leaders are likely to talk about plans for multi-domain warfare and growing threats to U.S. space systems.
The president makes a nomination for the head of a Congressional agency. If he’s confirmed as director of the Government Publishing Office, Robert Tapella won’t have far to walk. Tapella is a member of the oversight staff of the Committee on House Administration, with special expertise in printing, publishing and security credentials. Besides, he’s already *been* director of GPO, having served under President George W. Bush. Early in his career he practiced calligraphy and bookbinding among other crafts. (Government Publishing Office)
Federal facilities saved tens of millions of dollars last year through green initiatives, over $22 million that is, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The government reduced its fuel oil usage by more than 200,000 gallons and saved more than 400,000 tons of paper from going into landfills. Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at making federal facilities more efficient. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the conservation effort demonstrates good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. (Environmental Protection Agency)
The Senate voices its concerns about the future of the FBI headquarters in one of next year’s spending bills. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) added language which zeroes out funding for the project in fiscal 2019. The Trump administration did not request any funding for the project that year. Lawmakers pushed back on the administration’s plan to build a new FBI headquarters on the site of the old one earlier this year. That goes against nearly a decade of plans to build a new consolidated campus in suburban Virginia or Maryland.
The House shows its confidence in the administration’s IT modernization approach. The Technology Modernization Fund could see a 50 percent increase in funding next year. The House Appropriations Committee approves the Financial Services and General Government fiscal 2019 spending bill earlier this week with $150 million for the TMF. Lawmakers allocated $100 million for the fund this year. In the report for the 2019 spending bill, the committee recommends that GSA prioritize projects that have the most significant impact on mission enhancement and that most effectively modernize citizen-facing services. (House Appropriations Committee)