Senator concerned USDA move is starting to affect research operations

In today's Federal Newscast, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says the USDA relocation is delaying implementation of the Farm ...

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  • At least one senator says workforce gaps at the Agriculture bureaus moving to Kansas City are delaying research. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) says the USDA relocation is delaying implementation of the Farm Bill. She says the National Institute of Food and Agriculture hasn’t finished handing out all appropriated grant money. Reports due from the Economic Research Service are behind as well. USDA says it predicted and planned for some attrition due to the Kansas City relocation but said it wouldn’t compromise research and mission activities. (Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee)
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee is unhappy with the way the Army handled its night court process. Night court was a method the service used throughout all of its programs to cut out legacy systems it didn’t need. That money was then reprogrammed into modernization. The committee says it wants more notice of what programs will be cut, and more communication with the Army about the process to hedge against waste. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army is doubling down to ensure its making the most of its troves of data. As part of the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, or PEO-EIS, reorganization. The Army also named a new project manager for data. Chérie Smith, the program executive officer for PEO-EIS, said last week that Colonel R.J. Mikesh will be the Project Manager for Army Data and Analytic Platforms. He will focus on improving Army information readiness and data agility to facilitate fact-based and informed decision making. The new organization is still in the planning phase, but the goal is to align the PM AR-DAP under the assistant PEO for Business Mission Area within the next year. Colonel Mikesh becomes the new PM for data after serving as the PM for Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program.
  • Ryan McCarthy was unanimously confirmed as the next Army Secretary. McCarthy served in an acting role as head of the Army after former Army Secretary Mark Esper took over as defense secretary in June. He previously worked for Lockheed Martin focusing on the integration of the F-35 and working the company’s global security policy. McCarthy served as undersecretary of the Army from November 2017 until Esper’s departure. (Department of Defense)
  • The Navy has confirmed Federal News Network’s report of a new IT leader for the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy announced Aaron Weis as its new chief information officer. Weis will be responsible for the service’s chief technology officer, chief data officer, chief digital information officer and chief information security officer. Weis’ mission is to integrate key Navy and Marine Corps IT initiatives to support troops and to increase IT talent across the naval services. Weis was a former senior advisor to the Defense Department CIO. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Villanova University and Bachelor of arts from the University of Illinois. (Navy)
  • Veterans Affairs says it’ll implement a new appointment scheduling solution at its medical facilities by 2025, two years later than VA initially told Congress. VA says it makes sense to deploy a scheduling system from Cerner, the same contractor it’s using to implement a new electronic health record. The department says it’s already purchased the Cerner licenses for the scheduling system. VA says the new solution is similar to the commercial product it piloted successfully at a medical facility in Ohio back in 2015. (Federal News Network)
  • There’s good news on the IRS cyber front. Though the agency faces more than a million cyber intrusion attempts every day, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has found it’s also thwarted recent cases of ransomware. James Jackson, deputy IG for investigations, said the IRS has managed to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats and has run tabletop exercises to prepare for cyber incidents. The agency has also teamed up with the IG’s office to protect against insider threats. (Federal News Network)
  • The Federal CIO Council is making it easier to find and understand federal technology policies. The council launched a redesigned website on Friday with a new policy and priorities catalog detailing 19 items such as A-130, data center optimization and several others. Federal CIO Suzette Kent wrote in a blog post that the council took a customer focused approach to the content and information architecture as part of the redesign. She says by interviewing stakeholders, conducting user testing and looking at visitor data, the council determined what information users were looking for and how to approach design so that they could find it quickly and easily.
  • The General Services Administration would be able to purchase public buildings through public-private partnerships under a bill introduced by Congressmen Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Greg Pence (R-Ind.). If passed, the bill would direct GSA to identify five-to-ten projects where it could pilot the public-private partnership concept. Meadows and Pence said the bill would help the agency go through a backlog of construction and renovation projects. (Rep. Greg Pence)
  • There will be new training for federal employees who handle Freedom of Information Act requests. The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy has launched new training courses for FOIA personnel at every level of experience. The series of courses will begin in October, and wrap up in July 2020. (Department of Justice)
  • Federal employees can now donate unused annual leave to their colleagues impacted by Hurricane Dorian. The Office of Personnel Management is setting up an emergency leave transfer program to help over 3,100 federal employees in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and four states. OPM Director Dale Cabaniss says the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs all requested an emergency leave program be established. Impacted employees must first request donated leave. Agencies will then transfer it to affected and qualified employees. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)

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