Agencies spending more on governmentwide contracts than ever before

In today's Federal Newscast, NASA and GSA both saw increases in their technology services and products sales.

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  • NASA’s governmentwide acquisition contract known as SEWP has seen its fourth straight year with 25% or more growth. Agencies bought more than $6.5 billion in IT products and services from NASA SEWP in 2019. GSA’s Alliant 2 IT services contract saw sales of $9.1 billion over the last 17 months and may have to increase the contract’s $50 billion ceiling. Across all of GSA in 2019, agencies spent $26 billion on technology services and products, of that more than 36% went to small businesses.
  • 156 Bureau of Land Management employees who were tapped for relocation are eligible for an early retirement or buyout. BLM says employees have until January 17 to apply for a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment. BLM will offer the maximum payment of $25,000. The agency says it doesn’t yet have a clear count of how many employees have accepted relocation to Colorado or other western states. Employees had until December 12 to decide.
  • The Government Accountability Office will review BLM’s relocation. The House Natural Resources Committee says GAO has agreed to look at how it handled the planned move to Grand Junction, Colorado. The committee asked BLM five separate times for its cost-benefit analysis of the move but received no reply. Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-N.M.) says he may consider a subpoena if BLM doesn’t turn over more information about its rationale for the relocation. (House Natural Resources Committee)
  • Agency chief financial officers and their staff say their mission in recent years has grown beyond just financial management. A survey of 200 federal financial officials conducted by Grant Thornton and the Association of Government Accountants, found some CFOs have been tasked with data management projects mandated under the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. CFOs who took part in the survey also identified recruiting and hiring, budget uncertainty, and adopting new technology as their top challenges. (Grant Thornton)
  • Forget about paying back the principal, these agencies can’t even pay back the fees for their technology loans. The General Services Administration has doled out $38 million from the Congressionally-approved Technology Modernization Fund so far. It should have recovered administrative fees of one-point-two million dollars from Agriculture, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Labor and GSA itself. But The Government Accountability Office finds GSA has so far received next to nothing. Auditors estimate fees, due last August 31, won’t get paid until the end of fiscal 2025. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Jimmy Stewart, who was performing the duties of defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, resigned on Friday. Stewart was also confirmed as the assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of the Air Force, will take over the personnel and readiness position in an acting role. The job has only been filled once under the Trump administration when current Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie held the position from November 2017 to July 2018.
  • The Air Force is looking to online schoolhouses to keep its ranks up-to-date on cyber skills. The plan is to employ a service to deliver cyber training to airmen. It will also give them a chance to take their training past the basics and try their hand at building code. (Federal News Network)
  • Airmen may find the apps they use for work will be getting faster soon. The Air Force is doing a review of what it takes to access and complete actions on its apps. Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer Bill Marion says there is redundant cybersecurity in apps and portals that are frustrating airmen as they try to do their jobs. The service is also looking at how many clicks it takes to complete an action in an app. (Federal News Network)
  • Nationwide, average military housing allowances will go up in 2020, but there’s huge variation from place-to-place. A Federal News News Network analysis of DoD data says some locations will see their basic allowances for housing go up by as much as 45% for certain ranks. In others, they’ll fall by more than 10%. Austin, Texas will see the largest gains in 2020, followed by Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, Coos Bay, Oregon, and Atlanta, Georgia. DoD says the rates are set based on surveys of local rent and utility costs. Servicemembers living in areas where BAH rates are dropping will still be paid the previous, higher rates. (Federal News Network)
  • Multiple agencies were targeted in a harvesting campaign designed to steal login details from their government procurement services. The cybersecurity company Anamoli says attackers spoofed sites for multiple international government departments, email services and two courier services. The Energy, Commerce and Veterans Affairs Departments were all included in the attack. (Anomali)
  • The National Institutes of Health is seeking feedback from its employees on cybersecurity challenges. The agency has launched a Cyber Safety Awareness Campaign as part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ ReImagine HHS effort. More than 100 NIH employees have volunteered to help brainstorm effective cyber practices. Stacie Alboum, the deputy director of NIH’s Center for IT, said the campaign looks to break down communication barriers between the agency’s front-line employees and its IT- shop.
  • Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants to give the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency more power to hold internet service providers accountable. He introduced a bill to give CISA legal tools to notify private and public sector entities about cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the networks and systems that control critical assets in the U.S. Under the legislation, CISA would be able to subpoena ISPs to get them to provide the federal or non-federal organization at risk of a cyber attack.

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