Senator calls for investigation into White House reprimanding NWS forecasters

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  • After reports of federal weather experts being reprimanded for contradicting President Trump’s claims about Hurricane Dorian’s projections, one Senator is calling for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s inspector general to open an investigation. In a letter to the IG, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said the public must have confidence that weather forecasts are based on scientific, not political, models.
  • There has not been a lot of push back on the decision to ban products and services from Kaspersky Lab. The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council received just three comments after publishing the interim final rule last October. The FAR Council has now issued the final rule implementing the prohibition of the company’s hardware, software and services in the federal supply chain. The regulation applies to all contracts, including those below the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000 and for commercial items. (Federal Register)
  • DoD’s “other” major cloud computing contract hit its first road bump in the procurement process. The Defense Department’s $7.8 billion contract for email and collaboration in the cloud is under protest. Perspecta Enterprise Solutions filed a complaint September 9 with the Government Accountability Office over the award to CSRA/General Dynamics IT for the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions, or DEOS contract. This is the first major challenge the DEOS procurement has faced since it began in October. GAO has until December 18th to make a decision on the complaint. Through DEOS, the Pentagon will implement Microsoft Office 365 and associated capabilities including word processing and spreadsheets, email, collaboration, file sharing and storage. (Federal News Network)
  • The Senate version of the 2020 defense appropriations bill jumped its first hurdle by passing the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The bill gives DoD nearly $700 billion next year. The defense appropriations legislation increases research spending by $9 billion compared to last year. It also gives more money to funding 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. That does not include military construction funds, which are handled in a separate bill. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal agencies are on track to nearly double their spending on artificial intelligence research and development, according to a budget supplement to the president’s 2020 budget request. The supplement shows non-defense agency spending on AI will reach nearly $1 billion, about the total all agencies spent on it three years ago. That’s about how much all agencies, including DOD, spent on AI research three years ago. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said the supplement shows the first agency-by-agency snapshot of AI spending. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Management and Budget and General Services Administration have greenlit a pilot to recruit candidates with autism for hard-to-fill cyber jobs. That’s just one of the top three ideas that won $300,000 as part of the Trump administration’s GEAR Center Challenge. OMB and GSA also awarded prizes to teams to reshape an evidence-based decision-making course for federal employees, and to leverage administrative records to better measure the effectiveness of agency programs. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy Department has hired its first chief learning officer. John Kroger comes to the Navy from Harvard University, where he served as a professor at the Kennedy School. Before that, he was Oregon’s attorney general. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer picked Kroger to head up a series of education reforms he first announced in February. Those include the development of a new online community college, run by the Department of the Navy, and new “research hubs” on the east and west coasts. (Navy)
  • Airmen can now download two Air Force handbooks on their iPhone or Android. The handbooks are also known as the little brown book and the little blue book. The brown book establishes expectations and standards for enlisted airmen and the blue book focuses on the profession of arms. The Air Force released the literature on the Apple App Store and Google Play to help airmen study for promotions. The apps also include a study guide and flash cards. (Air Force)
  • Employees at the Bureau of Land Management will have a better idea next week of what positions will relocate to Colorado and other western states, and which ones will stay in D.C. Just 3% of the BLM workforce works in Washington. The remaining 97% already work in the field. The Interior Department says it wants all BLM employees to go along with the relocation, or find other jobs within the department. BLM says Interior has implemented a temporary hiring freeze to keep other positions open for those employees who decline to relocate. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal agencies took steps to protect animals used in federal programs. The State Department inspector general reported problems in the way Jordan treats the nearly 100 explosive detection dogs it received under a foreign assistance plan. Ten died, others live in filthy conditions and are overworked. The IG recommends State stop sending dogs there. Counterterror officials disagree. And EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler directed $4 million in grants to five colleges. They’ll develop ways to improve or eliminate animal testing in environmental research.
  • The House Veterans Affairs Committee will investigate credentialing, privileging and reporting at the Department of Veterans Affairs at a hearing later this fall. The announcement came after VA’s inspector general said it’s investigating allegations that a VA doctor in Arkansas may have misdiagnosed up to 3,000 veterans for over a decade. House VA Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) says the Arkansas allegations, and suspicious deaths at a West Virginia facility, call VA’s responsibilities for credentialing and monitoring its employees, into question. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • Two former FEMA officials and the former president of a major disaster relief contractor have been arrested for bribery and fraud . The Justice Department says the contractor gave Ahsha Tribble, who was then FEMA’s deputy regional director, gifts and a personal credit card, in exchange for steering contracts his way during the agency’s efforts to restore electricity to Puerto Rico. (Associated Press)

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