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A new rule revising progress payments and performance-based payments policies for defense contracts is getting pulled back. Defense Department Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the proposed changes were released prematurely and did not have full coordination. The changes are required by the 2017 defense authorization act. (Professional Services Council)
Federal employees, contractors or others applying for a security clearance no longer need to unfreeze their credit before beginning a background investigation. The National Background Investigations Bureau said this often caused delays in the security clearance process. The newly passed Fair Credit Reporting Act initiated this change as of Sept. 21. (National Background Investigations Bureau)
The Office of Personnel Management is encouraging agencies to consider setting up a coaching program. It sent agency chief human capital officers best practices and advice for creating a “coaching culture.” OPM Director Jeff Pon said coaching programs could help agencies reskill and engage their employees for future work. OPM said coaching may also help agencies develop specific groups of leaders and senior executives. (Office of Personnel Management)
Agencies were told to improve how they approve infrastructure permits. A new memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says the administration is creating a new performance accountability system for all environmental reviews and permitting processes for major infrastructure projects. The new system will track how agencies conduct environmental reviews and their authorization processes, and how engaged agency officials are in the regular reviews of agency performance. It also analyzes how they plan to achieve the Cross-Agency Priority Goal to Modernize Infrastructure Permitting. (White House)
A new bill to authorize the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy to collaborate on big data research to benefit veterans’ health passes the House. Rep Ralph Norman’s (R-S.C.) bill would fund a new, two-year pilot program at DoE to advance research in AI, data analytics, machine learning and more. A Senate companion bill is in the works. (House Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Reauthorization for the National Institute of Standards and Technology made it through the House. The Senate Commerce Committee will be taking it up next. The legislation includes $125 million more for one of its labs, along with $234 million for NIST’s growing quantum science mission area. (House Science, Space, and Technology)
The Pentagon is starting to enforce a stricter policy on nondeployable troops. Troops who have been nondeployable for a year or more will begin proceedings to be separated from the military. The separations are on a case-by-case basis. In addition, all military services are required to regularly report nondeployable numbers to the Pentagon. (Federal News Radio)
Mail addressed to the Pentagon is being quarantined after officials detected what may have been an attempted attack on senior Defense officials. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency said its screening systems found what may have been Ricin in two pieces of mail. One envelope was addressed to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The other was sent to the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson. DoD officials emphasized the letters never posed a threat, since the Pentagon’s mail is processed off-site. But as a precaution, all mail received on Monday is being held until the investigation is finished. (Federal News Radio)
President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Social Security Administration said he’ll take a comprehensive look at the agency’s five-year IT modernization plan. Andrew Saul told the Senate Finance Committee he’ll use his Thrift Investment board experience to help SSA replace its legacy IT. He also promised to visit field offices to get a better sense of how to reduce the agency’s growing disability claims backlog. (Federal News Radio)
The Homeland Security Department’s support components that manage the agency’s IT, procurement and security programs do not have sufficient ways to track employee misconduct. The DHS inspector general said there is no single DHS office responsible for overseeing and managing conduct issues. DHS support components don’t consistently report misconduct allegations to the IG, and no one component tracks an employee allegation in the same way. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
The Homeland Security Department is setting up a special virtual room for the 2018 elections. On Nov. 6, DHS will be on high alert monitoring the security of the mid-term elections. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the agency plans to do two things. First, it will pre-deploy incident response teams across the country just in case there are cyber attacks. And second it will set up a situational awareness room in the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. Nielsen said information sharing with the intelligence community and state and local governments is much quicker and more tailored today than ever before.