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The General Services Administration extended the deadline for proposals for the Agriculture Department to lease space in the Kansas City region. The space is supposed to house the new headquarters of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. GSA’s new deadline for proposals is now August 7. USDA announced last month plans relocate employees outside of the Washington metropolitan area to Kansas City.. The original deadline was one month prior. The department wants to move employees by the end of September. (FedBizOpps)
Two Senate ranking members want the Trump administration to share alternative options to address the Office of Personnel Management’s budget challenges in 2020. They asked for more details about the administration’s proposed OPM merger with the General Services Administration, and why the administration didn’t fully explain OPM’s budget shortfalls sooner, and with more urgency. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) wrote to acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert. (Federal News Network)
House Democrats are still looking to block the merger of OPM and GSA. Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced an amendment to the 2020 defense policy bill. The amendment prevents the administration from merging or transferring any OPM authorities, resources or personnel to GSA or the Office of Management and Budget. The House is expected to begin on the defense authorization bill this week. (House Rules Commitee)
Agencies have until September 2020 to come up with a draft plan, for how they’ll use data to drive decision-making going forward. The Office of Management and Budget set the deadline as part of its guidance for the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. Agencies must set up learning agendas that ask big-picture questions about their programs. Agency chief data and chief evaluation officers seek to then leverage their data to answer those questions. (White House)
OMB is seeking more high-quality data to test out artificial intelligence tools. OMB has put out a request for information, asking members of the public, to “flag” agency data sets that could use a little work. OMB wants to know, for example, whether some public-facing data sets are too big to download, or not formatted in a way that helps AI researchers. OMB also wants the public to highlight potential gaps in the data that can be filled. The RFI stems from an executive order President Donald Trump signed earlier this year aimed at boosting AI research in and out of government. (Federal Register)
The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command is hosting a challenge to find technologies which apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to cybersecurity. The challenge is offering $100,000 to first place and $50,000 for second place. The Navy hopes to attract nontraditional defense companies through the competition. Results are expected in December. (Challenge.gov)
The Air Force is bringing its Pitch Day idea down to the base level. Pitch days allow businesses to present their ideas to the service and walk away with a contract the same day. Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey held its own Pitch Day for solutions to readiness and lethality issues. Five companies were awarded contracts from it. Ten small businesses pitched ideas and five walked away with contracts and payments. (Air Force)
The fate of DoD’s controversial $10-billion cloud computing contract is now in the hands of a federal judge. Attorneys for Oracle made their final arguments in a D.C. courtroom yesterday for why the Pentagon’s JEDI solicitation should be thrown out and rewritten, with the government and Amazon Web Services on the other side. The content of those arguments is still a mystery, because the proceedings were sealed to the public. But the Court of Federal Claims has previously indicated it plans to make a final decision on the case by mid-July. If DoD prevails, it plans to make a contract award to either AWS or Microsoft by next month.
Bipartisan legislation looks to give back money to veterans who were wrongfully charged fees for their Veterans Affairs home loans. Even though Congress exempted veterans who receive VA disability from paying fees for administering a VA home loan, VA’s office of inspector general recently found the agency charged more than 70,000 disabled veterans nearly $300 million between 2012 and 2017. This new bill requires VA to come up with a plan to identify all exempt veterans who were charged funding fees and a timeline for refunding all fees. (Sen. John Boozman)
The EPA revived an awards program to honor top-notch employees. The agency held its national honor awards ceremonies yesterday, complete with color guard, at which it conferred presidential rank awards to five senior executives, along with recognition for exceptional service in various categories to individuals and teams. In all, more than 700 staff received recognition. Administrator Andrew Wheeler said it was the first such ceremony the agency has held in ten years. The event took place at the Ronald Reagan Building. (Environmental Protection Agency)