Defense OIG to investigate Pentagon’s use of PFAS chemicals

In today's Federal Newscast, at the request of two members of Congress, the Defense Department's inspector general has agreed to review the department's use of ...

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  • The Defense Department’s Inspector General will be reviewing the department’s use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals at military sites. A letter from Congressmen Dan Kildee (D-Mich) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) earlier this year asked for the investigation. They say because of DoD’s use of the chemicals, many service members and their families are put at risk of exposure and the subsequent health effects. (Rep. Dan Kildee)
  • There will be a new six-month diversity and inclusion certification for managers in the Coast Guard. The goal is to create practitioners who can coach unit leaders on ways to develop a positive work environment. These practitioners will also teach how to understand Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data, and then create plans to improve. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army is publishing its first-ever “people strategy.” The service wants to bring private sector talent management principles into its ranks. The strategy aims to bring the Army’s active, guard, reserve and civilian employees into a structure it can manage more deliberately, with a better understanding about each of their talents and which jobs might suit them best. Leaders hope to back it up with data, including more measurements that will help the service do a better job of selecting senior commanders. No major policy changes are planned just yet – those will come after the service draws up more detailed implementation plans in the coming months. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is looking for agencies’ best practices in recruiting Hispanics and people with disabilities to government. It’s part of OPM’s annual data call for the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program report that gets submitted to Congress. OPM this year wants agencies to send data on Hispanic employment within their organizations, and information on employees with disabilities, as one submission to Congress. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • OPM has launched a data gathering effort to get the real state of its legacy IT systems. The Trump administration has been saying the Office of Personnel Management’s technology infrastructure is old and crumbling, and it was one reason the agency needed to merge with GSA. Now OPM is collecting information to prove or disprove that theory. OPM hired McKinsey and Company under a contract that will last no more than nine months and be worth no more than $2.3 million. McKinsey will produce a report baselining OPM’s overall legacy IT infrastructure. It will describe what is needed immediately to stabilize, secure and modernize the IT environment. Additionally, the contractor will provide OPM with a roadmap for the development of an end-to-end paperless retirement services user experience. (FedBizOpps)
  • The ability of agencies to buy commercial items has gotten a little broader. The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council finalized a rule letting agencies classify products developed exclusively at private sector expenses and sold in substantial quantities as commercial items. The final regulation reduces the burden on vendors, needing to follow only 138 contract clauses as opposed to nearly 500 for noncommercial items. The 2018 National Defense Authorization bill required the council to update the definition to include these products. The FAR Council received three comments on the draft rule and made no significant changes to the final version. (Federal Register)
  • Civilian agencies aren’t alone in pursuing technologically-based procurement reforms. The Army contracting command is working its own version of category management. Major General Paul Pardew says his contracting command has chosen a few select categories of commodities to focus on, including information technology, construction and medical supplies. Staff is using data analytics to get a handle on spending, and vehicles through with the dollars are flowing. The goal is to trim redundant and inefficient contracts while preserving competition. And finding commonalities across domains.
  • Agencies are facing a huge backlog of documents to declassify, but Senators Ron Wyden (R-Wis.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) plan to introduce a bill to streamline the process. The upcoming bill would order the Director of National Intelligence to work with agencies to set new policies, and seek out new technology, to help reduce the backlog. The Information Security Oversight Office estimates agencies spend more than $18 billion a year classifying documents, and face an overwhelming volume of documents to declassify. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
  • The Government Publishing Office has gotten one step closer to getting a permanent director. President Trump expects to nominate Hugh Halpern, a senior Congressional official, for the position. Halpern previously worked as the director of floor operations for the Office of the Speaker of the House, and also held staff jobs on several House committees. GPO’s acting deputy director, Herb Jackson Jr., stepped down earlier this year after critical reports from the agency’s inspector general. (White House)

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