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.
Eight federal agencies have failed to comply with cybersecurity standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee says several agencies are not properly protecting personally identifiable information, leaving them at risk for a major data breach, like the Office of Personnel Management hack of 2015. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
The House passed another package of appropriations bills for 2020. The minibus includes Commerce, Justice and Science, Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration, Interior and Environment, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The package includes a measure that would prevent the Agriculture Department from relocating employees at the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, outside of the national capital region. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says the House should clear a total of 10 appropriations bills by the end of this week.
Members of Congress are making last-ditch efforts to change course on the reorganization of the Office of Personnel Management. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) introduced two amendments to the financial services and general government appropriations bill. One would cut funding for the Office of Personnel Management. Another would allow the administration to move forward with its proposed OPM merger with the General Services Administration. But Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced an amendment that would prevent OPM from furloughing or laying off any employees due to the merger.
It’s IT modernization report card day and agencies continue to show progress. Four agencies earned higher grades and four saw their scores drop on the eighth version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA scorecard. Federal News Network has learned the departments of Labor and U.S. Agency for International Development received “Bs” instead of “As” because their CIOs do not report to the head of the agency. NASA and the Department of Health and Human Services saw their scores drop to “C-pluses” over the last report card because changes that downgraded their CIO reporting. Overall, agency progress remained steady with 16 departments receiving the same scores as last time. (Federal News Network)
One out of every four dollars spent on federal contracts now go to small businesses. The latest scorecard from the Small Business Administration found agencies spent a record of more than $120 billion on small business contracts in fiscal 2018, $15 billion more than the previous record in fiscal 2017. This marks the sixth straight year that agencies met or exceeded a governmentwide goal of spending 23% of contracting dollars on small businesses. (Federal News Network)
SBA expects to finalize a rule next year, to close a loophole which allowed for companies to self-certify their eligibility for the agency’s Women-Owned Small Business program. The Government Accountability Office recently found that 40 percent of a sample of companies in the program, did not meet the standards for eligibility. A provision in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act mandated SBA to put an end to the self-certifications. (Federal News Network)
While it revises rules on air and water pollution, the EPA is also taking on the media. Agency officials chide two publications devoted to politics. On Monday an EPA press release said Politico misleads when reporting on EPA efforts to work down the list of Superfund sites, and says Politico’s readers would have been confused. A release Tuesday took on The Hill, saying that newspaper gets it wrong on EPA compliance with recent changes in the Freedom of Information law, listing what the public affairs operation calls false headlines and quotes.
Greg Crabb, the Postal Service’s Chief Information Security Officer, says the agency is looking to hire nearly 60 cybersecurity professionals at posts across the country. The hires will work in North Carolina, Virginia and agency headquarters in DC, to help stay on top of new cyber threats. (U.S. Postal Service)
The award for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure or JEDI has been delayed until late August, according to Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy. The award was originally expected in July. In the meantime, Deasy wants some DoD agencies to figure out which of their apps will be migrated to the new general purpose cloud. (Federal News Network)
Members on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are looking for more details from the Trump administration about how it’ll manage the upcoming transfer of the security clearance portfolio to the Defense Department. Committee Democrats have written to acting Office of Personnel Management Director Margaret Weichert and acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, wondering if both agencies can transfer authorities, personnel, contracts and resources from the National Background Investigations Bureau to DOD in three months. They also want to know about DOD’s plan to use continuous vetting in place of periodic reinvestigations.
The Air Force’s next pitch day will take place in San Francisco and will focus on space products. Pitch days allow nontraditional companies to show off their technologies to the Air Force “shark tank” style and receive a contract the same day. This one will take place on November 6. The service will hear proposals from 20 to 30 companies to meet specific space capability needs. (Air Force)
Navy spouses have a new perk if they follow their sailor during a move for work. The Navy became the final service to offer up to $500 in reimbursement rates for military spouses when following their service member on a permanent change of station. The funds will be awarded to spouses so they can pay fees for occupational licenses and certifications. The other military services have already implemented similar reimbursement systems. The Defense Department is making a push to improve the lifestyles of service members and their families. Part of that includes decreasing the high military spouse unemployment rate. The services hope the reimbursement will help spouses transition to new locations easier. (Navy)
Veterans Affairs is seeing progress with its suicide prevention crisis line. VA says response times are down by a second over the past year. Calls routed to VA contingency crisis call centers are down from about 44,000 in 2017 to a little over one-thousand in 2018. VA handles nearly one-third of calls that go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Veterans Crisis Line is the largest call center in the world. (Department of Veterans Affairs)