House appropriators say no to another agency’s reorganization plans

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  • Another agency reorganization proposal has been rejected by House lawmakers. Funding to support the Interior Department’s plan to reorganize its bureaus and management functions into 12 unified regions across the country is absent from the House 2020 appropriations bill. Several business lines in Interior had requested reorganization funding next year. The House Appropriations Committee cleared the Interior and Environment funding bill late last month. The measure is part of the minibus of appropriations bills that is supposed to get a vote in the full House in the coming days.
  • House appropriators want to keep a close eye on how the Defense Department uses middle-tier acquisition. The House version of the 2020 defense authorization bill allows dollar thresholds for some middle tier acquisition programs and gives top DoD officials access to technical data to evaluate the maturity of programs.
  • Big changes are coming to the federal contractor landscape. Raytheon and United Technologies have agreed to merge, creating a $74 billion aerospace and defense sector behemoth. Raytheon received more than $18 billion while United Technologies got more than $6 billion dollars in fiscal 2018 from federal contracts. At the same time, Salesforce agreed to buy business intelligence software provider Tableau for almost $16 billion. Salesforce says Tableau’s data analytics platform will become a key asset to expand its artificial intelligence customer relationship management application.
  • A major data breach has hit U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The agency says malicious hackers got photographs of travelers and license plates moving through various ports of entry. Officials blame a subcontractor, who they say violated cybersecurity protocols in their contract. A Congressional staffer says the breach affected fewer than 100,000 people. CBP says it learned about the exfiltration on May 31, but that none of the data has surfaced on the internet or Dark Web so far. (Federal News Network)
  • News of that data breach has gotten the attention of Congress. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has expressed concerns over the reports. Thompson says he expects to hold hearings on the Department of Homeland Security’s use of biometric data next month. (Federal News Network)
  • Over 125 House members have expressed concern over a series of new bargaining proposals the Veterans Affairs Department has presented to the American Federation of Government Employees. They say VA’s proposals are similar to the President’s May 2018 workforce executive orders that a federal district court invalidated. VA’s proposals further limit official time and ban AFGE from using government-owned office space. Lawmakers are urging VA to return to good faith negotiations. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Archives and Records Administration is looking at whether blockchain could help authenticate digital copies of its images and videos. Verifying tamper-free versions of records could prove useful to guard against fakes. NARA tested the technology last year when it released nearly 20,000 documents on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Federal News Network)
  • The Patent and Trademark Office completed a major IT upgrade. The Patent Application Locating and Monitoring or PALM application is 1,000 times faster, 20 times more efficient, and far more stable and less prone to failure now that the bureau has updated the system. The upgrade comes after USPTO suffered a database corruption in a portion of the PALM application last August, which also caused the parts of the electronic filing system to be offline for several days. New CIO Jamie Holcombe writes in a blog post that the agency has committed personnel and resources to increasing the stability and availability of its IT infrastructure while also deploying state-of-the-art technology. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • The lack of available services on Army bases could be hurting the branch’s retention and recruitment efforts. Army Installations Services Director Carla Coulson says bases need to find a way to let companies like Lyft, Amazon and others deliver goods and services on base by adopting more modern security measures. (Federal News Network)
  • The administration named a former Virginia state official as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general, and one-time candidate for governor, is a supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. But he’s also been a critic of Republican Senate leadership. Several Republican senators have called for a debate and vote on his confirmation. They’re unsure whether the White House will simply retain Cuccinelli as acting, giving him nearly a year. (Federal News Network)

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