Senators hope to eliminate federal retirement cuts from budget resolution

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  • A few Senate Democrats want to take federal retirement cuts off the table in the proposed 2020 budget resolution. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced a series of amendments which would get rid of the proposal to use federal retirement as a way to reconcile $15 billion in savings. They also introduced an amendment that would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to give federal contractors back pay from the recent government shutdown. The Senate Budget Committee will consider amendments to the budget resolution today. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
  • The Agriculture Department wants to quickly choose a new site for the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Another list of about 20 possible sites for USDA relocation will come out in the next couple days. Officials said they hope to make a final recommendation to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue by early May. The final site recommendation will include a cost-benefit analysis for the move. Not all employees will move out of the Washington D.C. area — about 75 ERS and 20 NIFA employees will stay put. (Federal News Network)
  • One congressman asked for an official study on whether certain federal agencies should move outside the Washington D.C. area. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) introduced the Federal Government Decentralization Act. It would establish a commission under the General Services Administration to study the relocation of certain agencies. The study would identify economically distressed areas or areas with expertise in a particular agency mission. (Rep. Tim Ryan)
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defends the Trump administration’s decision to cut its funding by 23 percent in its fiscal 2020 budget proposal. Despite skepticism from Democratic lawmakers, Pompeo told the House Appropriations Committee the $40 billion proposal would still be enough to achieve the agency’s foreign policy goals. The proposal for the department included $5.4 billion to improve security for U.S. diplomats, and $3.3 billion for foreign aid to Israel. (House Appropriations Committee)
  • Dan Elwell, acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration was on the Hill yesterday to defend how his agency handled the troubled 737 Max jets and its relationship with Boeing. Senators on the transportation subcommittee questioned whether the FAA had too cozy of a relationship with the companies its supposed to be regulating. Elwell said his agency would have to hire 10,000 more workers and spend another $1.8 billion per year to inspect all the planes currently being certified by aircraft makers. (Associated Press)
  • Commandant Karl Schultz said the Coast Guard has not yet fully recovered from the effects of the 35 day partial government shutdown. Schultz told the House appropriations homeland security subcommittee that the agency is only 75 percent reconstituted. Schultz said the Coast Guard will be ready for the next hurricane season starting June 1. (House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee)
  • The Air Force now said it needs nearly $5 billion to rebuild two of its military bases after major weather events. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said her service “desperately” needs the supplemental funding. Not necessarily all at once though: Rebuilding damaged facilities at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska will take at least three years. Offutt was inundated by recent Midwest floods and Tyndall was badly damaged in a direct hit from Hurricane Michael last year. Wilson said the Air Force needs at least some supplemental funding by this summer, or it will have to postpone other planned construction projects. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department might do a little better on its 2019 audit. Acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist told Congress seven of the Pentagon’s 21 agencies may come out clean in the DoD’s second ever audit. Only five received clean audit findings last year. Despite the improvement, lawmakers are still worried about how poor DoD’s audit results are and question if a $750 billion budget is worth handing over to the military for 2020. (Federal News Network)
  • Lt. General David Berger is nominated as the next commandant of the Marine Corps. He currently serves as the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for combat development and integration. Berger will replace current Commandant General Robert Neller who is retiring after 44 years of service. (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Karyn A. Temple lost the acting portion of her title and is now the permanent register of copyrights. She’s been in the acting role since October of 2016. Before that, Temple was associate register of copyrights and director of policy and international affairs at the U.S. Copyright Office. She also worked as an attorney and senior counsel in the Justice Department. (U.S. Copyright Office)
  • Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent said the Office of Management and Budget is “very close” to releasing a long-awaited draft of its federal data strategy. Speaking at an AFCEA D.C. conference, Kent said the strategy will focus on commercializing government data, and safeguarding privacy. The administration, she added, also has plans to expand its focus on geospatial data, calling it one of the most successful areas of open data in government. (Federal News Network)
  • More security gaps in the internal controls of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s information systems were found. The Government Accountability Office identified eight new deficiencies in systems tied to the bureau’s debt schedule, which keeps track of what the federal government owes its creditors. GAO said the gaps it found increase the risk of data breaches, or disruptions to critical operations. (Government Accountability Office)
  • June 13 is D-Day for the Wage Determination Online system. It’s the day when GSA plans to retire the legacy system, and make the Beta.SAM.gov site the authoritative source for contract wage determinations. This will be the third system GSA decommissions as part of its Integrated Acquisition Environment program. Under IAE, GSA plans to modernize and consolidate 10 legacy acquisition databases. (General Services Administration)
  • GSA is forced to take back awards to 81 small businesses. A year after GSA handed out spots on the $15 billion Alliant 2 small business vehicle, the governmentwide acquisition contract for the IT services is on hold. One of the unsuccessful bidders, Citizant, won its bid protest before the Court of Federal Claims forcing GSA to rescind all 81 awards. The judge ruled GSA mis-evaluated proposals around pricing and having a compliant cost accounting system. The judge told GSA to reopen the evaluation of all bids. The agency said proposal evaluation will continue and a new source selection decision is expected. (FedBizOpps)
  • A new competition from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services looks to give innovators a chance to show how artificial intelligence can be used to predict unplanned hospital visits. The multi-stage, year long challenge has prizes totaling $1.65 million. Applications are due by June 18. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

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