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Defense Secretary Mark Esper is promising more open communication from the Pentagon. He said the Defense Department will restart the practice of regular press briefings with representatives from his office and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Esper took questions from reporters in the Pentagon briefing room Wednesday for the first time in a year that a Defense Secretary had held an on-camera briefing. (Department of Defense)
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs will resign at the end of the year. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said he’s leaving his Senate term three years early due to a series of growing health issues. Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2013. He’s still recovering from a fall earlier this summer and had kidney surgery earlier this week. Isakson helped write and pass a long list of key veterans legislation in recent year, including the MISSION Act, the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. (Sen. Johnny Isakson)
With an extra billion dollars in emergency spending, the Air Force laid out how it plans to rebuild bases damaged by weather events last year. Offutt Air Force Base’s non-kinetics operations campus, and its MilStar Satellite Communications Station will be reconstructed. The money will also help with building munitions storage facilities at Tyndall Air Force Base, as well as maintenance hangars and a child development center.
Democrats on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said there’s a few things missing on VA’s website. Lawmakers said they couldn’t find the links for three government websites: Freedom of Information Act, USA.gov and the department’s Office of Inspector General. Agencies are required to link to these resources on their websites. Law, and Office of Management and Budget policy all require agencies to link to these resources on their websites. VA.gov went through a major redesign late last year. (Rep. Max Rose)
An IG investigation found the admiral who’d been tapped to lead the Navy showed poor judgment, but didn’t commit official misconduct. Adm. Bill Moran declined his appointment to become chief of naval operations after revealing he’d maintained a professional relationship with a former subordinate who’d been accused of sexual misconduct. The inspector general said that relationship didn’t violate any regulations, but showed poor judgement because senior Navy officials had been telling Congress they’d severed all ties with the officer. The IG said Moran also violated DoD policies that ban the use of personal email for government business. (Federal News Network)
A who’s who of federal technology is leading a new task of reviewing the Social Security Administration’s IT modernization effort. The Social Security Advisory Board named 11 new members to an independent panel led by Alan Balutis, the former Commerce Department chief information officer and current distinguished fellow at Cisco Systems. The board also includes Mark Forman and Dan Chenok, former OMB leaders, Dave McClure, who worked at the General Services Administration, and the Government Accountability Office, and Renny DiPentima, former Social Security Administration CIO. The panel will review the success of the systems modernization effort from the end user’s perspective and provide its findings to the board by early fiscal 2021. (Social Security Advisory Board)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to hear from industry and other experts about how best to secure the IT supply chain. The agency’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence is developing a demonstration project to identify the issues and challenges in supply chain assurance. The center is hosting an industry day Sept. 10 to present its preliminary plans for this project, which has a goal of identifying best practices and enabling technologies to verify the security of IT components in hardware and software. (National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence)
Auditors came down hard on GSA’s procurement data pilot. The inspector general at the General Services Administration had some harsh words for the agency’s Transactional Data Reporting or TDR pilot. In comments submitted in response to GSA’s decision to extend the TDR pilot until the end of 2020, the IG questioned why the agency is continuing the program at all. Auditors said the pilot has not met its goal of replacing the commercial service pricing and price reduction clause for schedule contracts. The IG also pointed out that GSA even has acknowledged that “data usability remains questionable, and no improved order-level buying strategies have resulted.” (General Services Administration Office of Inspector General)