NDAA amendment aims to find out if DoD experimented with weaponized bugs

In today's Federal Newscast, a proposal in the 2020 defense authorization bill would require the Defense Department Inspector General to tell Congress if the de...

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  • A proposal in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department inspector general to tell Congress if the department experimented with the idea of weaponizing disease carrying insects. Roll Call reported the amendment was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). It commands the IG to conduct a review of whether the Defense Department experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975. If it did, the IG must then find out if any of the insects were released out of any laboratory. (Roll Call)
  • House Democrats introduced a continuing resolution to keep the government open until Dec. 20. The CR also ensures military active duty service members get a 3.1% pay raise on Jan. 1. The CR still needs to be passed by both houses and signed by the president by the end of Thursday to avoid a shutdown. The CR provides full funding for a fair and accurate 2020 Census, and will pay for mobile questionnaire assistance centers. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Homeland Security inspector general takes a dig at the Trump administration. The IG lists managing operations amid executive vacancies and turnover as the top department challenge this year. In its annual exam, the inspector general lists as second, coordination of efforts to deal with the flood of migrants at the southern border. Cybersecurity comes in third. The report said the leadership question affects everything DHS does, including attracting and retaining needed talent, and championing the workforce generally. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
  • The Office of Management and Budget is reminding agencies that the determination of whether they have violated the Anti-Deficiency Act and spent money they don’t have, is up to them and the administration, and not the Government Accountability Office. OMB updated Circular A-11 in June, but sent out a reminder to agencies earlier this month after GAO issued several opinions that said agencies went afoul of the law. The memo said that since GAO is part of the legislative branch, executive branch agencies are not bound by GAO’s legal advice. (White House)
  • One agency is finding a successful path to shared services. The Labor Department will complete a major consolidation of back-office functions over the next year. Labor is bringing 13 human resources systems down to one, 26 IT application organizations down to one and three to four different procurement offices down to a single organization. These consolidations will culminate a three-year effort to standardize data and processes, and save money. Labor said it anticipates the cost of all these back-office services to come down in the out years thanks to economies of scale and reduced duplication of contracts and services. (Federal News Network)
  • Three agencies are teaming up to better educate inmates about potential job opportunities in the federal government. The Office of Personnel Management is working with the Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons. OPM developed a series of informational guides to dispel common myths about federal hiring process. The effort is part of the Second Chance Hiring Initiative and the First Step Act. OPM developed a series of informational guides to dispel common myths about the federal hiring process. It’s also hosting webinars to teach inmates about resume writing, USAJobs.gov and to answer other questions about the hiring process. (Federal News Network)
  • The Trump administration is urging agencies to pick up their efforts to hire more military spouses. Agencies already have special hiring authorities to recruit military spouses noncompetitively. Military spouses said the rigid General Schedule and existing personnel system has often forced them to take pay and grade cuts when moving with their family members. A 2018 executive order instructed agencies to better use those hiring authorities. The Board of Veterans Appeals said it used special hiring authorities to bring on 60 attorneys and administrative staff within the past five months or so. (Federal News Network)
  • U.S. Strategic Command has a new leader. Navy Adm. Charles Richard took command yesterday during a ceremony at STRATCOM’s headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, replacing Air Force Gen. John Hyten. Richard has previously served as STRATCOM’s deputy commander. More recently, he commanded the Navy’s submarine forces. (STRATCOM)
  • U.S. Space Command is strengthening its ties with private space companies. U.S. leaders are finding more innovation is coming from industry. Space Command is creating a Commercial Integration Cell that keeps satellite providers in close contact with space operators. (Federal News Network)
  • So far, the Navy has taken most of the blame for the deadly collision involving the USS Fitzgerald in 2017. But families of the seven sailors who died in the crash say the other vessel was at fault too. The purported owner of the container ship ACX Crystal faces two new lawsuits: One from sailors who survived the crash, and another from family members of those who didn’t. They’re claiming negligence on the part of NGK Line, saying the merchant ship was running on autopilot until the very last minute, failed to follow international rules of the road, and didn’t try to make contact with the Navy ship before the collision. The lawsuits were first reported by Navy Times. (Federal News Network)

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