Contractors will need to start keeping track of fake parts they come across

In today's Federal Newscast, acquisition authorities have made a proposed rule final, to keep phony parts out of systems the government buys.

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  • Acquisition authorities made a proposed rule final — to keep phony parts out of systems the government buys. It’s been a long time coming. Congress in 2012 mandated that Defense contractors and subcontractors report counterfeit or suspected fakes into a central database. The Federal Acquisition Regulation council proposed a rule in 2014. Now the rule is final, effective Dec. 23. The council pointed out the rule requires reporting fakes, an activity that until now has been voluntary. It applies beyond the Defense Department because agencies like NASA can also be harmed by counterfeit parts. (Federal Register)
  • Four House subcommittee chairmen want more details from the Social Security Administration about its plans to end telework for 11,000 employees. They wrote to SSA Administrator Andrew Saul, asking about the agency’s decision to end telework for operations employees, as well as SSA’s plans to track and measure its impact. (Rep. John Larson)
  • Telehealth is quickly growing at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Telehealth appointments were up 17% in 2019. Over 99,000 veterans used VA’s secure Video Connect conferencing app at home in 2019, an increase of 235%. Two-thirds of VA Video Connect appointments were for tele-mental health visits. VA said all of its primary and mental health care providers will be able to meet with patients via a mobile or web-based device by the end of fiscal 2020. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The two senators leading the charge to prevent federal retirement assets from being invested in China-based companies aren’t giving up. Sens. Marco Rubio (D-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)are urging the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to take up their legislation. The Taxpayers and Savers Protection Act would prevent the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board from moving the international fund to a new benchmark. The new benchmark includes several emerging markets and China. The board finalized its decision to move ahead with I fund changes earlier this month. (Sen. Marco Rubio)
  • The Air Force cut the number of jobs eligible for re-enlistment bonuses in 2020. The Air Force Personnel Center said 72 jobs will be able to receive selective retention bonus program bumps, down from the 107 jobs that were eligible in 2019. The branch’s manning levels have been improving so there’s less need for incentives like bonuses. The Air Force is currently trying to grow its ranks, but recently its manning levels have been improving, leaving less of a need for bonuses to incentivize airmen to stay. (Air Force Personnel Center)
  • Richard Spencer is out as the secretary of the Navy. It’s part of the controversy involving a Navy SEAL pardoned by the president in a war crimes case. The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanded Spencer’s resignation after he learned Spencer had privately been negotiating with the White House to let Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher retire at his current rank. Esper called that a lack of candor, and said it caused him to lose confidence. Spencer told a different story in his resignation letter last night. He said he could no longer serve under a commander in chief who doesn’t share his views on good order and discipline. President Donald Trump said he plans to nominate Kenneth Braithwaite, the ambassador to Norway, as the new Navy secretary. In the meantime, Thomas Modly, the undersecretary of the Navy, is serving as the acting secretary. (Federal News Network)
  • Military commissaries are getting high ranks from their patrons. More than 20,000 shoppers rated the Defense Commissary Agency 4.51/5 points, with 5 being the highest score. That’s a nearly 5% increase from last year, and the highest the agency has seen since 2012. The Defense Commissary Agency conducted the survey over 10 straight days. Commissaries got their highest ranks in having courteous employees and convenient hours. (Defense Commissary Agency)
  • The Office of Management and Budget will soon launch a reskilling pilot with the hope of bringing the federal workforce up to speed on data science skills. Federal Deputy Chief Information Officer Margie Graves said the program will train not just front-line employees but also bring agency executives up to speed on data literacy skills. The pilot is a spin-off from OMB’s Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy, which has already trained two cohorts of employees for cyber jobs. (Federal News Network)
  • A final draft of the Federal Data Strategy got a release date from OMB. Margaret Weichert, OMB’s deputy director for management, said the agency expects to release the strategy in mid-December. A draft version of the plan released in June outlined 10 principles, such as ethical governance of data, and 40 agency best practices on managing and protecting data. (Federal News Network)

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