Senate Dems concerned with EPA’s handling of contract negotiations with AFGE

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  • The ranking members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Environment and Public Works Committees said they have serious concerns about the EPA’s decision to end collective bargaining negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) led a group of 39 Senate Democrats in expressing their opposition against the EPA decision. The senators said the EPA is imposing a seven year contract on the agency’s workforce. The EPA-written contract cuts telework and official time, and restricts union access to agency office space. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • A bill to streamline how agencies report more than $600 billion in grants every year is headed to the president’s desk. The Senate passed the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act, after the House passed it in January. It requires the Office of Management and Budget act as a central hub for data on agency grant awards. (Sen. James Lankford)
  • The Office of Management and Budget, the CIO Council and the Government Accountability Office reported they are on the cusp of updating the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA scorecard. Margie Graves, the deputy federal CIO, said the redesign likely will bring in new metrics. She said the new categories may include how agencies are driving citizen services, how they are meeting customer needs and how they are delivering on their mission. Graves says the goal is to put the citizen at the center of the IT modernization equation.The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and ACT-IAC have partnered to create a periodic table to help contracting officers and program managers find and share ways to make federal acquisition easier. Each entry includes a description of the innovation, how the problem is solved, the benefits of this particular approach, and use cases or documentation.
  • President Donald Trump has rebooted an advisory council to brief him on science and technology issues. Through an executive order, Trump reauthorized the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Members include private-sector executives from Bank of America, IBM and other business sectors. Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will serve as the director of the council. (White House)
  • The co-chairmen of the new task force on the Future of Defense say they will invite new, creative thinkers to give Congress an idea of how it should handle the defense environment over the next 30 years. Representatives Seth Moulton and Jim Banks say the task force will hold hearings for the next six months and come out with a set of recommendations at the end. The first hearing is set for next Tuesday with former DoD Policy undersecretary Michele Flournoy and former Senator Jim Talent. (Federal News Network)
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has recused himself from any decisions on the Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud contract. In a statement, the Defense Department said Esper has decided to stay out of JEDI because his son works for IBM, one of the companies that initially bid on the contract. DoD said Esper has delegated any decisions that need to be made on the procurement to David Norquist, the deputy Defense secretary. Esper had been leading a review of the contract since he became secretary this summer. It’s unclear whether that review is still ongoing. It’s also unclear what sorts of contract-related decisions the department thinks Norquist might need to make. (Federal News Network)
  • Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department have partnered on a new traumatic brain injury research initiative. Both departments have pledged up to $25 million each over five years to fund new concussion and TBI research. Funding from the departments will support a consortium of researchers from DOD, VA, the National Institutes of Health, and universities and non-profit organizations. The Long-Term Impact of Military-related Brain Injury Consortium is led by a team at the Richmond, Virginia VA Medical Center and Virginia Commonwealth University. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Starting in January members of the National Guard will be able to join the Credentialing Assistance Program. The program is an Army-wide initiative allowing soldiers to obtain civilian- and industry-specific credentials and certifications. Some of the 1,600 certifications available are Lean Six Sigma, certified logistics technician and even a commercial driver license. (Army)
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that, for the first time, it has authorized the marketing of products through what the agency calls a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) pathway. The authorizations are for eight Swedish Match USA, Inc. smokeless tobacco products sold under the brand name “General.”  That means Swedish Match will be allowed to claim a lower risk of mouth cancer and other diseases relative to cigarettes. But it’s still prohibited from marketing to those under 21, and it still has to retain tobacco warning statements on its packages. (Food and Drug Administration)

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