To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe on PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
Fourth quarter grades for IT reform efforts came out for agencies. 11 agencies improved their grades and for the first time no agency received an F on the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA scorecard. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the bi-annual grades yesterday ahead of Wednesday’s hearing with the Department of Health and Human Services. In all, 11 agencies earned a B. up from three in May, and 7 earned a C — which is down from 12 six months ago. The Small Business Administration made the biggest improvement going from a D-plus to a B-plus over the last grading period. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
Employee satisfaction suffered at the agencies who lacked permanent or stable leadership in 2018. The Partnership for Public Service’s 2018 Best Places to Work rankings said employee engagement fell at more agencies this year — at least 60 percent —than during the previous three years. Engagement scores went up at the remaining 40 percent of federal organizations in 2018. (Federal News Network)
Justice Department attorneys said employee unions filed their legal challenge against the Trump administration’s May executive orders, in the wrong court. Trump administration attorneys will appeal the federal district court’s August ruling on the president’s three executive orders. They said the Federal Labor Relations Authority is best-suited to hear the unions’ disputes with the president’s EOs. Federal unions will file their oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals, at a later date. (Federal News Network)
Mandatory spending has nearly doubled over the past two decades. That’s funding Congress does not approve as part of its annual spending packages. The Government Accountability Office said three agencies made up the vast majority of mandatory spending: Departments of Health and Human Services, Social Security and the Treasury. The Congressional Budget Office found mandatory spending was more than double congressional appropriations for fiscal 2017. (Federal News Network)
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) will be the ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee next year. He’ll take the place of former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. She lost her Senate seat in the November midterm elections. Peters has been ranking member on the committee’s federal spending oversight and emergency management subcommittee. He said he’ll use the Senate committee’s oversight role to cut waste, fraud and streamline government performance.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ emerging-tech pilot-program received the go-ahead to use current acquisition data sets. The agency’s BuySmarter initiative, which develops blockchain, artificial intelligence and automation use cases, gets the authority to operate. HHS will host a live demonstration of its Accelerate blockchain program for industry on Dec 12. (FedBizOpps)
The Army wants industry to show off its artificial intelligence goods next spring. The Army Research Laboratory and the Algorithmic Warfare Cross Functional Team will sponsor two technology demonstrations in April and May. The demos will let industry show off technology capable of processing video, images and satellite photos. The opportunity is part of a larger effort to convert volumes of raw data into usable intelligence. (FedBizOpps)
The Government Accountability Office has dismissed IBM’s protest of the Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud contract. GAO’s move comes four days after another JEDI bidder, Oracle, filed a lawsuit challenging the JEDI solicitation at the Court of Federal Claims. GAO said the issues the two vendors are raising are similar, and it’s unwilling to decide a bid protest on its own if a court ruling down the road is likely to turn the GAO decision into an academic exercise. Oracle’s lawsuit alleged seven different breaches of federal procurement law in the JEDI contract, and asks the court to order DoD to make significant changes to the solicitation. (Government Accountability Office)
In the government’s desire to move agencies toward shared services, the biggest missing ingredient over the last 30 years has been not including the voice of the customer. A new report on shared services from three good government groups found — through interviews and discussions over the last year — that without listening to and incorporating user’s needs into the consolidation effort, shared services are unlikely to be successful. The Senior Executives Association will release the report on Dec. 13 at its annual conference in Washington D.C. (Federal News Network)
Border Patrol officers are not properly getting rid of data they download from travelers devices. A Homeland Security Inspector General report said a lack of supervision led to officers not consistently disconnecting electronic devices from the network before searching them. CBP searched over 47,000 electronic devices in fiscal 2016 and 2017. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)