Handful of agencies can’t stop spending money they don’t have

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  • Nine agencies violated the Anti-Deficiency Act in fiscal 2018. The Government Accountability Office says the Defense Department, including the Army, had three violations worth more than $13 million, and the Commerce Department had two violations worth more than $35 million. The departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture also reported breaches of the law. The Anti-Deficiency Act says agencies can’t spend money or commit to spending money that they don’t have or have been prohibited from spending by Congress. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Negotiations between the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers have gone into mediation after both parties failed to approve a collective bargaining agreement. USPS and union officials will continue talks, and must agree on a third-party arbitrator if the impasse continues after 60 days. NALC said negotiations have focused on compensation, non-career employees, and protections against layoffs. (National Association of Letter Carriers)
  • Three senators have introduced legislation to stop the Defense Department from restricting some service members’ ability to transfer their GI Bill benefits. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) want to roll back a DoD policy that stops service members who served 16 years or more from giving their education benefits to dependents. The policy was supposed to go into effect in July, but the Pentagon pushed the deadline to January 2020 after blowback from Congress. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • The operator of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet got another $650-million worth of work because of ongoing delays in the contracting process. The Navy is extending its existing agreement with Perspecta until at least mid-June of next year, and potentially until December of 2020. The company first won the NGEN contract in June of 2013 – it’s served as the main operator of Navy IT networks since then under a deal that was supposed to only last five years. The Navy had originally planned to divide the management of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet into separate contracts, dubbed “NGEN-R,” by the end of 2018, but the service still has not made a decision on the new awards. (Department of Defense)
  • DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center held a three day hackathon over the weekend and on Monday aimed at using AI tools to evaluate maintenance data for aircraft. The event brought more than 50 hackers to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to recognize, classify and quantify maintainer actions in intuitive ways. The three winners received up to $15,000 each to advance their concepts. (Department of Defense)
  • The Patent and Trademark Office is on the hunt for a senior artificial intelligence expert. USPTO’s new hire will help the chief information officer find gaps in the agency’s current AI strategy, and work with the agency’s software engineers to develop use cases. The expert will also collaborate with USPTO program offices to create a long-term AI roadmap. USPTO will accept applications through October 25. (USAJobs)
  • The Office of the Federal CIO is shuffling its personnel. They welcomed two new executives while saying goodbye to another one. Nicholas Andersen joined as the new federal cybersecurity lead in OMB. He comes to the role after serving as the head of cybersecurity for the State of Vermont. Shila Cooch also filled a key position at OMB as a senior policy advisor. She comes to the Federal CIO’s Office from the Homeland Security Department, where she was the chief of staff for the CIO for the last four years. Finally, Bill Hunt, who led OMB’s cloud policy efforts, left for Small Business Administration after two years. (Federal News Network)
  • There are over 49,000 vacancies at the Veterans Affairs Department, but the overall size of the VA workforce is larger than it’s ever been. VA says it’s still struggling to accurately describe exactly how many vacancies it has across its 140 medical facilities. The agency says a VA specific staffing model is under development and should help those efforts. VA acknowledged it could be more strategic in deploying successful recruitment and retention incentives to the occupations, facilities and locations that need staffing help the most. (Federal News Network)
  • The Trump administration tariff battle with China has an improvisational quality as one U.S. based manufacturer found out. Apple says it will build its new Mac Pro, its most expensive computer, in the United States. This after the company received a waiver from tariffs on critical components. Those parts come from China. As a result, Apple says it will keep production of the computer in Texas instead of moving it to China, and that the new machine has twice the U.S. sourced content as the old model.

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