Trump names pick for US chief technology officer

In today's Federal Newscast, former venture capitalist Michael Kratsios is tapped to become the next U.S. chief technology officer.

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  •  President Donald Trump plans to nominate Michael Kratsios to be the nation’s Chief Technology Officer. The position has been vacant for two years. Kratsios currently serves as deputy CTO according to Bloomberg News. Before that, he was chief of staff the investment management firm Thiel Capital. (White House)
  • Agencies are still sorting out issues with employee leave from the 35-day partial government shutdown. They want more guidance on how to handle leave donation applications that couldn’t be processed during the shutdown. The Office of Personnel Management said agencies should retroactively accept and apply use-or-lose-leave that was donated during the shutdown, if employees meet the right requirements. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association will sue OPM. FLEOA challenged a policy it claims cut benefits for divorced retirees. It said OPM isn’t properly compensating former law enforcement officers who are forced to retire before reaching Social Security eligibility age. (Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association)
  • More than a year in the making, the Office of Management and Budget released updated guidance around category management. The new memo replaced two others from 2011 and 2012 to refocus and simplify the government’s approach to addressing contract duplication and better controlling federal procurement spending. OMB told agencies to take several steps including an increased use of best-in-class contracts for common goods and services. OMB also wants to further implement demand management strategies and train the workforce in category management practices. (White House)
  • The Energy Department looks to make it easier to hire college students who excel at an agency cybersecurity competition. Adrienne Lotto, deputy assistant secretary for infrastructure security and energy restoration, said the agency has asked for more flexible hiring authority. Last December, Energy ran its CyberForce competition — and students from more than 60 colleges and universities participated to defend against cyber attacks launched by a “red team” of private industry experts. (Federal News Network)
  • A new sexual assault task force at the Pentagon will give Congress recommendations for stopping the crime. The original request came from Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who recently revealed she was assaulted during her time in the Air Force. The recommendations are for the 2020 defense authorization bill. In 2017, there were nearly 7,000 sexual assaults reported in the military. McSally said many more went unreported and the Defense Department needs to do more to stop them. (Sen. Martha McSally)
  • The Pentagon will also embrace a new set of recommendations to fix its software acquisition processes. Ellen Lord, DoD’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, explicitly endorsed several recommendations the Defense Innovation Board made after a year-long study. Lord said DoD is rewriting its regulations to set up a separate acquisition process for software. Lord also backed a board recommendation to overhaul the Pentagon’s budget and create a separate appropriation for software development. Some of the changes would need to be made by Congress, but DoD is hopeful lawmakers will take them up in the upcoming Defense authorization bill. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new public social media platform called Polyplexus. It will allow academics, researchers and even retirees to connect and share ideas. DARPA said it hopes the platform will increase the pace of U.S. technology development. Polyplexus features an initial offering of research topics for collaboration and potential funding. The social media platform was test launched last year and is now open to the broader research and development community. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • The Coast Guard’s motto might be “always ready,” but its commandant said it needs more money and hardware to stay that way. In a West Coast speech, Commandant Karl Schultz called for a 5 percent annual funding increase. He said the ongoing replacement of old ships and aircraft must be accompanied by money for maintenance, training and support for Coast Guard families. Its 2020 request is $11.3 billion, for what Schultz described as a modestly funded organization. (U.S. Coast Guard)
  •  The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs will host a joint conference on suicide within the military and veterans communities Aug. 26-29. Both departments want to hear from researchers, clinicians and non-profit organizations. Multiple executive actions over the past year are prompting VA and DoD to work more closely together on mental health and suicide prevention. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)  and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) want to know how the government monitors doctors who own stakes in companies which sell products to their own offices. At the center of the request is something called physician-owned distributorships. It’s an arrangement where a doctor buys ownership shares in one of their medical suppliers. While they are supposed to disclose that information to patients, the lawmakers want to know how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Health and Human Services inspector generals are enforcing that rule. (Sen. Chuck Grassley)

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