Senators worried political pressure affecting Pentagon cloud contract

In today's Federal Newscast, Virginia’s two senators want to know why Defense Secretary Mark Esper is conducting his own examination of DoD’s upcoming JEDI ...

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  • Two Senators want to know why Defense Secretary Mark Esper is conducting his own examination of the Defense Department’s upcoming JEDI Cloud contract. In a letter to the secretary, Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jack Reed (D-RI) say they’re worried about political pressure affecting the integrity of the procurement system. They’re reacting to DoD’s announcement last week that it would not award the JEDI contract until Esper is finished reviewing it. The Senators want Esper to answer whether anyone in the administration told him to delay or cancel the program, and whether his office has any new information that wasn’t already reviewed during two separate bid protests. (Sen. Mark Warner)
  • The inspector general at the Agriculture Department finally weighed in on USDA’s planned relocation of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The IG says the department violated provisions of the 2018 omnibus spending bill requiring agencies to get congressional approval before reorganizing offices or agency functions. But USDA’s legal counsel says those 2018 provisions are unconstitutional, and the department didn’t need Congress to approve its relocation plans before announcing them to the workforce. (U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General)
  • After the Veterans Affairs Department’s IG identified between $230 million to $920 million in potentially improper or fraudulent spending with VA’s charge card program, a bipartisan group of House Veterans Affairs Committee members are looking for answers. House VA Oversight and Investigations Chairman Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Ranking Member Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich) are asking for more details from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. They want to know how VA plans to use data analytics to identity improper payments. (Rep. Chris Pappas)
  • Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella says the agency has turned the corner on a number of management priorities. Pizzella told Federal News Network in an exclusive interview that Labor closed data centers, moved money into IT modernization efforts and is pushing more employee performance recognition awards. Labor is about to enter into collective bargaining negotiations with its employee unions. Pizzella says he hopes to complete the new contract by the end of the calendar year. (Federal News Network)
  • More light has been shed on training tweaks the State Department has made for new hires. Director of the agency’s Foreign Service Institute Daniel Smith said the agency will pilot its new “One Team” training program at the end of August. The new course will train civil and Foreign Service hires together, along with new political appointees. Smith said agency officials are also looking at ways to include locally employee staff at overseas posts and contractors into the training. (Federal News Network)
  • After a recent Supreme Court decision, the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy is updating Freedom of Information Act guidance. The court ruled in June that companies have an “assurance of privacy” when submitting data to the federal government, and should not have that data subject to FOIA requests. The ruling stems from a South Dakota newspaper asking the Agriculture Department for data on where SNAP beneficiaries spent the most money. OIP officials expect to have the guidance ready in about a month. (Federal News Network)
  • Preliminary results are in on GSA’s plan to consolidate its schedule contracts. Federal contractors overwhelmingly agree that GSA’s plan to move to one schedule from 24 makes sense and will benefit vendors and agencies alike. GSA released initial data on the responses it received on two requests for information around terms and conditions and special item number changes. Out of more than 580 responses, 94% of the vendors said the proposed solicitation and terms and conditions are clear. Out of 480 responses on the SIN RFI, 84% said the mapping of the current schedules to the new large categories and subcategories make sense. (General Services Administration)
  • Slow networks, outdated equipment and facility improvements are sticky spots for the Air Force’s Materiel Command. The command’s We Need initiative brought in more than 4 thousand surveys and 7 thousand interviews. The data collection is aimed at identifying areas in where Material Command is excelling and where it needs improvements. The initiative will continue collecting data until mid-August. (Air Force)
  • The Defense Department is launching a new program to catch serial sexual assault offenders and empower victims. The Catch A Serial Offender program collects identifying information on offenders from victims to compare against other reports of assault. Victims will have a second chance to press charges when they’re told if their assailant is implicated in other sex crimes. The program tells service members if their assailant is implicated in other sexual crimes. They are then given a second chance to press charges against their assailant if they denied that option previously when making the report. (Federal News Network)
  • The IRS’s procurement office is testing out ways to try out emerging technology while minimizing risk. The agency has launched its Pilot IRS program, as a way to bankroll experimental technology solutions through incremental funding if they show potential. The agency will award up to $7 million for its first challenge, which is focused on developing robotic process automation tools to improve DATA Act reporting. (FedBizOpps)

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