Senator warns Army about recruiting on TikTok

In today's Federal Newscast, relocation notices went out to 159 employees at the Bureau of Land Management yesterday.

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  • As part of its newest recruiting campaign, the Army is making more and more use of social media. But one particular social app is raising concerns for the Senate’s top Democrat. In a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he’s urging the Army to revisit its use of the Chinese-owned platform TikTok. He said Chinese law makes the user data collected by the app a potential intelligence risk. Schumer wants to know whether the Army consulted with the intelligence community before it decided to use TikTok, and if it’s at least considered alternative platforms. (Federal News Network)
  • Relocation notices went out to 159 employees at the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday. It’s a key step in BLM’s planned relocation to Grand Junction, Colorado, and other western states. The bureau said employees have 30 days to decide whether they’ll accept the reassignment. They’ll get another 90 days to move to their duty stations. BLM said it’s gotten approval to offer relocation incentives to employees who decide to move. The incentives will be worth 25% of an employee’s basic pay at the new duty station. (Federal News Network)
  • House and Senate appropriators have agreed to pass another continuing resolution to stave off a government shutdown. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Congress will approve another CR to keep the government running until Dec. 20. Lawmakers hope to use that time to reach final agreement on appropriations bills that would fund agencies for the rest of 2020. (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration is looking for industry help to modernize two key IT systems the Office of Personnel Management uses to process employee retirement claims. GSA issued two requests for information under its Centers of Excellence initiative. It wants to help OPM replace the Federal Annuity Claims Expert System desktop app and the calculator claims specialists use to make annuitant benefits. GSA said the current system is reliable and accurate. But it was built with tools the manufacturer no longer supports. The RFI went out to contractors on GSA’s ALLIANT 2 governmentwide acquisition contract.
  • A former GSA executive has found a new home in industry. Alan Thomas, who recently left after more than two years as the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at the General Services Administration, has a new job. Thomas is the new executive vice president of special projects at Trowbridge, an IT services provider with defense, intelligence, and civilian agency clients. In that new role, Thomas will focus on strategic planning and analysis, mergers and acquisitions and best practices for organizational efficiency and effectiveness. He also signed on as an operating adviser with Enlightenment Capital, which bought Trowbridge earlier this year. Julie Dunne replaced Thomas as FAS commissioner on an acting basis in October. (Federal News Network)
  • IBM is shuffling its executive leadership chairs. Sam Gordy was recently named the new general manager for U.S. defense and intelligence. Gordy led IBM’s U.S. federal business for the last three-plus years. To replace Gordy, the company tapped Jay Bellissimo, who was global general manager for cognitive process transformation in IBM’s Global Business Services. Bellissimo has worked for IBM for more than 17 years, holding an assortment of positions including general manager and chief revenue officer for Watson and Cloud Platform.
  • A bill that would train federal employees on supply chain cyber threats has passed the Senate. The Supply Chain Counterintelligence Training Act would require agency procurement and contracting officials to learn how to detect counterintelligence threats, in the systems and software that they buy. The training would be developed by the heads of the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Homeland Security, the General Services Administration, and the director of national intelligence. The bill now heads to the House. (Sen. Gary Peters)
  • Some major corporations will get access to the Energy Department’s supercomputers. DOE awarded $3.6 million to five companies doing research on energy and manufacturing technologies. Three grants went to United Technologies Research Center for projects to improve gas turbine engines, urban pollution and additive manufacturing. General Motors will investigate advanced welding techniques. Dow Chemical will research plastics at the molecular level. These companies and other will partner with supercomputer centers at Argonne, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. (Department of Energy)
  • A new approach to recruiting cyber talent. The Energy Department’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, or CESER, has invited teams from more than 100 universities to participate in a red-team blue-team cyber exercise at its national labs this weekend. Officials expect to extend job offers to some of the participants. Through the department’s direct hire authority, officials expect to extend job offers to some of the cyber challenge participants. (Federal News Network)
  • Ten Fort Meade families are suing Corvias housing company for neglect, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The families say they are living in unsanitary conditions and the company is not repairing the houses in a timely manner. The lawsuit comes nearly nine months after the company CEO, along with other military housing leaders, pledged to be better stewards of military properties. In February, rampant reports of mice, mold, lead paint and other substandard living conditions arose from privatized military housing residents. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is working on getting its weapons systems to talk to each other more. Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper said the service will conduct a connect-a-thon every four months to get its machines more interconnected for a fully integrated force. In December, it will test a product that will allow F-22 and F-35 software to interact. Eventually, a drone will fly along with the planes running a program called Babel Fish that will translate code between the two aircraft.

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