Negotiations between Social Security and administrative law judges’ union break down

In today's Federal Newscast, there's been another setback in negotiations between Social Security Administration management and its cadre of administrative law ...

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  • There was another setback in negotiations between Social Security Administration management and its cadre of administrative law judges. The union says it’s been notified by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s commissioner, Randall Mayhew, that talks have in fact reached an impasse. And that both sides are released from mediation. The judges wanted a pause in negotiations until SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul addressed their request to change their chain of command, such that judges report to an appointed, not career, official.
  • It’s going to take nearly two more years for the Veterans Affairs Department to finish its work on 22 leased medical facilities. VA’s Inspector General says the agency could have reduced the overall acquisition time by two years if it ensured there was enough staff and funding up front. Doing so would’ve saved more than $150 million. Congress gave the go ahead for the buildings back in 2014. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Contract changes have a big effect on federal construction projects and agencies are not keeping track of them. The Government Accountability Office analyzed the Army Corps of Engineers and the General Services Administration’s construction contract changes. GAO found neither of them tracked how long it takes to process contract changes. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The next generation telecommunications program is still struggling to get off the ground. The Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, or EIS initiative, is not only behind schedule, but now the program is battling problems to fulfill customer agency task orders, according to the GSA’s inspector general. The IG found an assortment of challenges ranging from ineffective administration of task orders resulting in higher rates of spending to deficiencies in planning and management. GSA says it has made some changes to address these problems, but the IG says more can be done. (General Services Administration Office of Inspector General)
  • GSA revealed its initial thinking of what the e-marketplace platform will look like. More than a year after holding an industry day and collecting hundreds of comments, the General Services Administration is seeking feedback on its initial plan to test out the e-marketplace concept. GSA released a draft solicitation yesterday outlining its strategy to award multiple contracts to e-marketplace providers. The agency says the pilot will focus on open market products that fall under the micro-purchase threshold of 10 thousand dollars. GSA expects to launch the e-marketplace platform toward the end of 2019. Comments on the draft RFP are due August 1. (Federal News Network)
  • Chief Information Officers at agencies who showed improvement on their Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecards took to the hill to outline their cloud projects to the House Oversight and Reform Committee. One was the Treasury Department’s CIO Eric Olson, who says his agency is creating a cloud based talent management system. Agriculture Department CIO Gary Washington said USDA is implementing a cloud portal within his office’s Digital Infrastructure Services Center, giving the agency real-time metrics on agency adoption statistics and workflow automation. (Federal News Network)
  • House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has expanded the scope of the committee’s investigation into White House officials using personal email for official business. Cummings has asked the White House to turn over copies of all staff communications which members violated the requirement to only use official email for work purposes. Cummings said the White House has yet to turn any records from a request six months ago, asking to expound on reports that adviser to the president Ivanka Trump relied on her personal email account for White House business. (House Oversight and Reform Committee)
  • Vendors will get a chance to show off their artificial intelligence or machine learning technologies to the Defense Department later this summer. DoD’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office is hosting a solutions meeting for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. DoD is looking for presentations in areas such as dark web analysis and autonomous cyber defense. (FedBizOpps)
  • After the Supreme Court ruled against the Census Bureau’s proposed “citizenship question” on the 2020 population count, the Commerce Department says it will go ahead and start printing questionnaires without the question. Secretary Wilbur Ross says the agency will now focus on getting a complete and accurate census. Even though the Census Bureau is relying on most respondents to answer the questionnaire by Internet next year, hundreds of millions of printed postcards and letters will be sent out next March reminding residents about the census, and those who don’t respond digitally will be mailed paper questionnaires. (Federal News Network)

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