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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t have a total border wall, and it doesn’t have great contract oversight either. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general found that when it comes to detention facilities contractors, ICE doesn’t adequately hold them accountable for written performance standards. ICE has a system called the Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan, but the agency almost never uses it to impose penalties on underperforming contractors. The IG noted thousands of instances of compliance failures. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
Today’s federal workforce is over-worked, over-stressed, understaffed and ill-prepared to handle the next major emergency response event. A new report from the Senior Executives Association painted a dire picture of the existing federal workforce and its ability to be resilient. Agencies are spending five times more than they did back in 1960, but with the same amount of employees to manage those budgets. The size of the workforce meant to manage and oversee that budget has held steady at about 2 million federal employees. (Federal News Network)
Some employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still missing back pay after the partial government shutdown. A FEMA spokeswoman told Federal News Network the agency estimated less than 2 percent of workers are missing back pay still. FEMA said any employee who is missing it should contact the agency’s chief human capital officer.
President Donald Trump tapped David Bernhardt to be the next secretary of the Interior Department. He’s been serving as acting secretary since former Secretary Ryan Zinke’s departure. Bernhardt is a former oil and gas lobbyist whose background is drawing criticism from environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers. (Associated Press)
An easier way to compare and learn about federal health plans is coming. The Office of Personnel Management plans to take the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to the cloud. At least, a central portal for employees to use would be in the cloud. OPM issued a request for information seeking industry input on what it would take to create a cloud-based enrollment program that is a one-stop-shop for FEHBP information. OPM said enrollees would be able to use the portal to compare and learn about plan options, select a plan and complete the enrollment process. Responses to the RFI are due March 11. (Federal News Network)
The White House is now targeting mid-March to send Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request to Congress. A senior Office of Management and Budget official confirmed the new timeline. This will be the third straight year the president missed the deadline to send his budget to the Hill, after OMB sent the president’s 2018 request in May 2017 and the 2019 request in mid-February 2018. Current federal law requires the president to submit his budget to Congress on or before the first Monday in February.
The departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce and six other federal entities have undertaken hundreds of operations to stop the theft of intellectual property over the last year. In a new report to Congress, the White House laid out the government’s efforts to stop IP theft and promote international policy. The FBI alone conducted 54 new investigations, making 22 arrests, winning 12 convictions and getting more than 64 million dollars for victims. DHS helped train public and private sector procurement workers about counterfeit products and how to mitigate those risks. (White House)
A bipartisan group of 26 senators are calling on the Defense Department to keep the pedal to the metal when it comes to auditing the Pentagon’s finances. In a recent letter, the senators asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to complete the next audit by the end of fiscal 2019. DoD finished and failed its first-ever audit last year. (Sen. David Perdue)
The Pentagon is out with a new cloud computing strategy. The document said DoD will embrace a multi-cloud approach as it moves its legacy IT systems to more modern technologies. But for the most part, the Pentagon still wants most of its applications to reside in the single-vendor cloud platform it’s planning to buy under the controversial JEDI contract. According to the strategy, DoD components will need the chief information officer’s permission to pursue their own cloud solutions. The CIO also plans to scrub existing cloud contracts in an effort to merge them into the JEDI cloud. (Federal News Network)
DoD is ramping up enforcement on contractors that do not meet many of the 110 cybersecurity requirements detailed in a new policy. DoD wants its contractors to reach a baseline standard for cybersecurity, so it’s making requirements a differentiator for performance and awards. Companies that do not meet it may miss business opportunities with DoD or end up in a breach of contract. (Federal News Network)
Northrop Grumman agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle claims it violated the False Claims Act through its work with the Postal Service. The Justice Department had alleged Northrop Grumman overcharged the U.S. Postal Service, under its Enterprise Technology Services Contract. USPS spends more than $13 billion each year on contracted supplies and services. (Department of Justice)
The head of the Senate Budget Committee requested an update from the Census Bureau on preparations for the 2020 population count. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has asked Census Director Steven Dillingham to shed light on how many new hires the agency has made to oversee its biggest IT contractor. Enzi has also asked the Census Bureau to share its IT resiliency plans, in the event of a natural disaster or cyber attack during the decennial count. (Senate Budget Committee)
The State Department swore in Carol Perez to serve as its new head of the Foreign Service and human resources. Perez has been a career member of the Foreign Service for more than 30 years, and was U.S. ambassador to Chile. She also served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for both the Bureau of Human Resources, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law. (Department of State)
NASA’s newest associate legislative affairs administrator is a former staff member of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). Suzanne Gillen worked on Thune’s professional staff for NASA, civil space, and aviation policy when he was chair of the Senate Commerce, Space and Transportation Committee. She also worked for Maxar Technologies since March of 2018. (NASA)