Air Force may be better off trying to keep pilots than hiring more

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  • Retaining pilots in the Air Force is more cost efficient than hiring and training new ones, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation. The report found that increasing incentive pay and bonuses to retain pilots could save the military money compared to expanding the training pipeline. RAND said the cost of training a fighter pilot ranges from $5.6 million to nearly $11 million. The Air Force is currently facing a pilot shortage and is looking for a better way to retain mid-career pilots. (RAND Corporation)
  • Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the IRS expects to receive an unprecedented 14.6 million requests for filing extensions before the April 15 tax deadline. Speaking at a town hall for IRS employees, Wyden said the agency has also received a higher volume of tax help questions. The surge in filing extensions cited by Wyden, follows a similar warning National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson had made last month. (Federal News Network)
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said while the IRS fares well under President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, the budget also contains cuts to federal employee pay, as well as retirement and health benefits — both of which Cardin opposes. The budget would give the IRS nearly $11.5 billion, a more than 2.5% increase from 2019. Over the past 10 years, the agency has seen its budget reduced by nearly $1 billion, resulting in a 23% reduction of its workforce. (Federal News Network)
  • House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Calif.) introduces legislation once again to repeal sequestration under the 2011 Budget Control Act. It would stop automatic budget cuts if Congress goes above the predetermined caps. Congress must pass the bill or come to a deal if it wants to avoid sequestration cuts for the next two years. The law is set to expire in 2021. (Rep. Adam Smith)
  • In letters to 3 agencies, the Government Accountability Office reminded them about the recommendations they have not addressed, but definitely need to. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said agencies addressed or implemented 77% of GAO recommendations last year. But he said Congress is concerned agencies aren’t doing enough to resolve those suggestions. GAO sent letters this week to the secretaries of Defense, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs. DoD has 91 priority recommendations, HHS has 54 and VA has 30. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Government Accountability Office said there are early warning signs about one of the Navy’s biggest modernization priorities. The Navy plans to spend $115 billion on the new Columbia Class submarine, but GAO said even that estimate is based on overly optimistic assumptions. A new report reveealed the estimate isn’t reliable, partly because officials are likely under-counting the number of labor hours contractors will need to build the 12 new boats. The Navy said it will cut acquisition costs by buying some key components ahead of time and in bulk, but GAO said similar programs haven’t managed to achieve those savings. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Marine Corps will get a small piece of the money it needs to rebuild Camp Lejeune in North Carolina after more than 100 buildings were damaged by Hurricane Florence last September. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller said Congress will move $400 million from existing accounts to invest in repairs. It will cost $3.6 billion to fully repair the base. (Twitter)
  • The Department of Veteran Affairs wants to spend more money with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small firms. VA increased its contracting goals for both categories by 5%. Its 2019 goal for service-disabled veteran-owned small firms is 15%, while for veteran-owned small businesses, the goal is 17%. In 2017, VA awarded more than $5 billion worth of contracts to small businesses in each category. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • NASA is the first agency out of the gate under the new telecommunications contract. The agency awarded CenturyLink a nine-and-a-half year contract worth $10.5 million for network infrastructure and connectivity. The space agency made the award under GSA’s $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS contract. It’s the first major task order since three vendors received the authority to operate for their business systems, meaning they can start performing work under the vehicle. Through the deal, CenturyLink will provide core backbone network services with speeds of up to 100 gigabytes per second. NASA made a similar award to CenturyLink in 2009 under the Networx contract, which is the predecessor to EIS. (CenturyLink)
  • The Department of Homeland Security wants to build three more buildings at the Saint Elizabeth’s campus. One of them would consolidate the newly renamed Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. DHS said CISA is currently in over eight separate locations now. Another would bring its intelligence and analysis office to the campus from the existing Nebraska Avenue location. DHS said it hopes to finish the entire consolidation project by 2026. (Federal News Network)
  • Who should lead the DHS after the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen, has become a matter of dispute between the White House and Congress. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Trump was wrong to appoint Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan as acting secretary. In a letter, Thompson said law requires the undersecretary for management to succeed the secretary. He urges Trump to name Claire Grady, currently performing the duties of undersecretary for management. (House Homeland Security Committee)
  • Associate Deputy Labor Secretary Michael Avakian resigned a month after he was found to still be representing an iron company in a lawsuit against a union, while working at the agency. Bloomberg Law reported Avakian’s resignation came after House Democrats began asking about his work on the lawsuit for more than three months after joining the DOL last year. (Bloomberg Law)

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