Dozens of states express interest in hosting new locations for two USDA bureaus

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  • Thirty-five states and 136 different groups expressed interest in hosting the new locations for the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture bureaus. USDA said it will work with U.K.-based accounting firm Ernst and Young to examine the proposals. The agency planned to make a decision by January and will retain a consultant with expertise in relocations. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • The Office of Personnel Management will soon collect agencies’ telework data for 2018, starting in early November. It does so every year for a governmentwide report on how agencies use telework, and comply with the Telework Enhancement Act. Some members of Congress have been watching this topic closely as some agencies have scaled back their telework programs this past year. OPM said it continues to support agencies using telework as much as possible. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • Plans to add two-factor authentication for participants to access their Thrift Savings Plan accounts are underway at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The FRTIB said adding two-factor authentication is one of many things the agency is doing to improve TSP security, and close some 341 open audit recommendations. FRTIB Executive Director Ravi Deo said the agency will focus its attention on ways it can immediately address the most critical audit recommendations first. A growing number of TSP participants have expressed interest in having two-factor authentication to protect their accounts.
  • Matt Cutts and Eddie Hartwig finally lost the “acting” from their titles in leading the U.S. Digital Service. OMB Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert named Cutts the permanent administrator and Hartwig the permanent deputy administrator of USDS. Both have been acting in these roles since January 2017. The administration said it’s changing both USDS roles to be two-year, career positions instead of politically appointed jobs. (Twitter)
  • The Census Bureau expects to begin its 2020 population count in remote Alaska. Acting Census Director Ron Jarmin said enumerators will descend on Toksook Bay starting January 21, 2020. The count begins in the winter to allow Census workers to travel over frozen rivers by snowmobile. Census estimates fewer than 700 people live there, and residents of Toksook Bay also spend much of their days hunting and fishing during the summer. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Two departments will join forces to help Indian tribes access crime data. Justice and Interior plan to add 25 more tribes to those with access to national crime information databases. By the end of next year, a total of 72 tribes will each have at least three kiosks connected to the databases. Interior will pay for the kiosk installations, to be located where its Bureau of Indian Affairs provides social services. Officials said the access helps improve tribal law enforcement. (Department of Justice)
  • After an employee with its National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, the Environmental Protection Agency is testing the rest of the facility for the bacteria that causes it. EPA said it can’t confirm if the lab is the source of the illness pending test results. Employees must still report as it hasn’t quarantined any area yet. (Federal News Network)
  • Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is in new hands after Hurricane Michael devastated the area on Oct. 10. The 821st Contingency Response Group is moving into the base to take over rebuilding efforts. The 821st will be able to return air traffic control to the base and continue air operations. The 23rd special operations squadron was previously on the base and did an initial assessment of the area, opening up more than 7,000 of usable runway. (Department of Defense)
  • The Air Force is extending the time enlisted airmen can stay in their ranks before they must promote or leave the military. The high year tenure for senior airmen was extended from eight to 10 years. Staff sergeants’ timeframe moved from 15 to 20 years and technical sergeants are now allotted 22 years instead of 20. The change comes as the Air Force continues to grow and wants to hold on to airmen who are experienced. (Air Force)
  • Two lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Defense Department over its $10 billion cloud procurement. Congressmen Steve Womack and Tom Cole wrote to the Defense Department’s inspector general requesting an investigation into the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative or JEDI procurement. The lawmakers want auditors to look into how DoD developed the requirements for the 10-year, $10 billion JEDI procurement, specifically around the use of gating requirements. Womack and Cole said the contract structure runs contrary to industry best practices and federal acquisition guidelines. They also said individuals associated with JEDI have significant connections to one contractor, which also runs afoul of DoD ethics policy and federal regulations.
  • Navy Undersecretary Thomas Modly signed an order recognizing the electromagnetic spectrum as a military battlespace. The instruction establishes Department of the Navy policy to take an enterprise approach to all activities dealing with the electromagnetic spectrum. It includes assigning roles and responsibilities as well as evaluating programs and policies. (Department of the Navy)