Warner presses DoD to take action on substandard military housing

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  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has asked the Defense Department for information on how it will fix derelict homes on several bases in his home state. The inquiry follows a report from Reuters that detailed serious hazards in military housing across the country including mold, leaks, mice and other issues. The report goes on to describe the difficulties that military families face in having their concerns addressed by private real estate companies. Warner asked DoD for a briefing on its plans to mitigate the issue and provide guidance on legislation to make private companies more accountable. (Sen. Mark Warner)
  • A former recruiter for military language interpreters has been indicted in an alleged scheme that sent unqualified personnel to the battlefield in Afghanistan. The Justice Department said Abdul Aman recruited candidates that he knew weren’t proficient translators, but got them through the screening process by having a friend take language tests for them. The Fairfax, Virginia, man worked for a subcontractor in charge of hiring interpreters to serve alongside troops in 2011 and 2012. The case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which says Aman earned bonuses for every candidate he recruited. He faces fraud and conspiracy charges. (Department of Justice)
  • The Army and the Navy have reported they are spending more money with small businesses than ever before. While fiscal 2018 small business contract spending is not yet finalized, initial data shows the Navy increased the amount of money it spent with small business contractors by more than $2 billion to $15.3 billion. The Army estimated it spent more than $21 billion with small firms last year. Meantime, DoD said it will release an updated policy early next year on middle tier acquisition.  Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said the policy will detail and expand the use of new acquisition authorities aimed at making the procurement process faster. The procurement method focuses on rapid prototyping and fielding capabilities in five years or less.  (Federal News Network advisory)
  • Agencies have more guidance now on how to implement the president’s executive orders on collective bargaining and official time. The Office of Personnel Management said there are still provisions of the Executive Order that an August court order didn’t strike down. OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert said agencies should prioritize efficiency and find ways to shorten the collective bargaining process.  (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department has eliminated official time for Title 38 medical professionals. The announcement means some 104,000 medical professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, and others, will no longer able to use “taxpayer-funded union time.” The decision to eliminate official time is part of the VA’s effort to renegotiate its collective bargaining agreements with four different unions. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration said it is trying to close the communication gap with industry. In order to do that, GSA has kicked off a year-long pilot around enhanced debriefings. The goal is to tell successful and unsuccessful bidders what they did well and what they didn’t in order to avoid protests and improve the overall contracting process. GSA said it plans to expand the pilot after understanding what approaches worked best. Congress required DoD in its 2018 authorization bill to take on a similar initiative. GSA decided it was such a good idea that it is following suit. (Federal News Network advisory)
  • The Trump administration is looking to find a possible solution to bring change and modernization to the way the government does business. Under the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), interagency cooperation is key to its success, according to Lee Becker, the chief of staff at VA’s Veterans Experience Office. He said the agency, together with the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs are looking at ways to tweak the PMA in terms of how to improve the customer experience in dealing with government agencies. The PMA lays out a long-term vision for developing a future federal government by modernizing IT, acquiring top talent and developing a Federal Data Strategy to share government information. (Performance.gov) (Federal News Network)
  • How much money does the federal government collect each year and where does the money come from? How much do individuals contribute versus corporations? These are all questions the Data Lab team at the Treasury Department looks to answer with its new Federal Revenue Explorer. The tool tracks all the sources of federal revenue, and not all of it comes from the IRS. The online tool also tracks revenue trends over time and compares total US revenue to other countries. (Data Lab)
  • The Homeland Security Department has honored its best employees. DHS said 673 employees receive awards in 10 categories. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the presentations. The gold medal for exceptional service went to William Vogel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for guiding thousands of people working on hurricane recoveries. Coast Guard rescue swimmer Brendan Kiley received the top valor award for saving 112 lives during flooding of Houston, and Kevin Boshears of the DHS management directorate was singled out for work with small business. (DHS)