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.
The Justice Department has gathered several components into a special fraud strike force. The task force is aimed at foreign-based schemes that target U.S. senior citizens. The Transnational Elder Fraud Task Force will encompass DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch, six U.S. attorneys’ offices, the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service. It will also work with the Federal Trade Commission. Officials say they’ll use data analytics to target frauds ranging from door-to-door cheats to phony online lotteries. World Elder Abuse Awareness day is tomorrow. (Department of Justice)
The Senate wants a clean-sheet review of the Defense Department’s IT workforce. A provision in the annual Defense bill the Senate Armed Services Committee released this week would order a top-to-bottom review of the contractor, civilian and military IT positions in each military service and DoD agency. Senators want data on whether cyber and IT missions have too many or not enough people assigned to them, along with a new analysis of whether position descriptions fit the work that needs to be done. DoD would have to deliver a final, comprehensive report to Congress two years from now.
Federal contractors may get backpay from the government shutdown which lasted from late last year and into early 2019. House lawmakers folded a bill to pay low-wage contractors for their work during the shutdown into an omnibus appropriations bill this week. If passed, contractors who make $965 a week or less will be paid for their work while they were furloughed or had their hours reduced. (Federal News Network)
Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) want to make it easier to read the Federal Register. The Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act would require agencies to write a 100-word, plain-language summary for each new proposed regulation. Lankford says it would help small businesses better understand regulations. (Sen. James Lankford)
A bipartisan group of senators re-introduced a bill to standardize federal grant reporting. The Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act would require the Office of Management and Budget to maintain a comprehensive database on federal grant and award recipients. It was passed last year but never got a vote in the Senate. Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) re-introduced the GREAT Act in January. The bill passed the House last September, but never got a floor vote in the Senate. (Sen. James Lankford)
New legislative proposals from the Office of Personnel Management look to help agencies reshape their workforces. One proposal would lift a statutory cap on the number of interns agencies can hire using an expedited authority. Another would give agencies the option to implement two-year probationary periods instead of the current one-year. The third proposal would allow term and temporary employees to convert to permanent employment under certain circumstances. A coalition of federal managers organizations is urging House members to include these proposals in next year’s defense authorization bill. (Federal News Network)
A provision in the House defense authorization bill would give parents in the military more flexibility after having a child. The bill lets military parents take their parental leave nonconsecutively. It also gives new parents better options for scheduling work and daycare. The military services offer up to 21 days of parental leave. (Federal News Network)
DoD kicked off the process to hold vendors to one cybersecurity standard. The Pentagon is taking a page out of the ISO 9000 or Capability Maturity Model Integration initiative playbook to create a new cybersecurity standard for all of its suppliers. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification or CMMC would create five levels of effort and require third parties to verify contractors’ progress. DoD plans to release the draft standard in July, collect industry feedback in a series of national listening sessions and begin incorporating the new requirements in solicitations in September 2020.
The General Services Administration will release a request for information in the coming weeks looking for help in reconfiguring special item numbers as part of its scheduled modernization initiative. The goal is to reduce the number of SINs from about 900 to 300 and make them easier to understand. GSA wants input on how to make the SIN structure more like the NAICS code.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched an app to help people deal with coastal flooding. It produces water level forecasts up to 48 hours in advance. Dubbed the Coastal Inundation Dashboard, it draws information from 200 water level sensors. NOAA officials say the dashboard will aid businesses and residents of the so-called blue economy. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
The Agriculture Department is moving most of its employees at the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City region. USDA says all ERS and NIFA employees can keep their jobs, if they move. The first 100 employees are expected to move by August. The department says the relocation to Kansas City will save government $300-million in rent and staffing costs over 15 years. (Federal News Network)
USDA’s decision to move employees to the Kansas City region is earning a wide variety of reactions. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Kansas City area praised the announcement. Members in the national capital region want to block the relocation. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) says he’ll introduce an amendment to the defense authorization bill blocking the move. Some employees in the new Economic Research Service bargaining unit turned their backs to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue during an all-hands meeting yesterday. (Federal News Network)