GAO says GSA is underreporting how much it spent on federal real estate

In today's Federal Newscast, the Government Accountability Office found the agencies excluded more than $271 million in building costs per year, between fiscal ...

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  • In tracking data to shrink the government’s real property footprint, the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget under-reported cost per square foot data for agency owned and leased buildings. The Government Accountability Office found the agencies excluded more than $271 million in building costs per year, between fiscal 2015 through 2018. GAO recommends GSA work with OMB to use actual cost information to calculate the average cost per square foot for GSA-managed space. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Federal employees would get access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave starting in October 2020 if Congress passes this year’s defense authorization bill. The paid parental leave is separate from the unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act time employees currently have. Paid parental leave can’t accumulate or carry over from year to year. And employees must agree to spend at least 12 additional weeks working at their agencies after taking leave. (Federal News Network)
  • Employee groups and lawmakers are calling the paid parental leave agreement “historic” and “life-changing” for the federal workforce. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) along with other House Democrats say the new benefit should set the stage for further family and medical leave benefits nationwide. (Federal News Network)
  • The final version of the 2020 defense authorization bill has more than 50 provisions addressing the military’s privatized housing issue. The bill creates a tenant bill of rights that protects service members from retaliation, promises them access to an electronic maintenance portal and gives them an option for dispute resolutions. The bill also gives the Defense Department more avenues to punish companies who are not keeping homes up to standard. Military service members nationwide reported lead paint, mice, mold and other substandard living conditions in their privatized homes. (Federal News Network)
  • Congress is putting more on the DoD CIO’s plate through the Defense authorization bill. DoD’s chief information officer will have a much busier 2020 as lawmakers added new and old responsibilities to its plate. In the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act passed on Monday Congress is giving back to the CIO’s office oversight of DoD’s business systems. Lawmakers took that responsibility away in 2018. Additionally, in the new legislation, Congress is requiring the chief data officer to report directly to the CIO. The NDAA also requires the DoD CIO to brief the House and Senate committees by February 3 on its plans to optimize its IT and cyber budget development processes.
  • Congress is intervening in the Defense Department’s plan to reform its system for moving military families. U.S. Transportation Command wants to award a single managed service contract to oversee all of the military’s household goods moves, rather than contracting with movers one-at-a-time. But after successful lobbying by the moving industry, Congress added a provision in this year’s Defense authorization bill that would at least delay the changes. It requires TRANSCOM to deliver a business case analysis for the Global Household Goods Contract (GHC) and delay the award until next April. Vendors submitted their bids last month.
  • Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) are demanding more accountability from the Pentagon after it recently finished its second audit. They want the Defense Department to focus less on the obvious problems and instead look at reducing the number of material weaknesses, which have a greater impact on DoD’s overall financial management. DoD found 25 material weaknesses in its most recent audit. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
  • The Pentagon has awarded Leidos a $6.5 billion, 10-year contract to help run the backbone of its communications networks. Leidos was one of three bidders for the next phase of the Global Solutions Management-Operations procurement. The contract was administered by the Defense Information Systems Agency. It’s also the incumbent vendor for the current GSM-O contract, administered by the Defense Information Systems Agency. (Department of Defense)
  • Virtual veterans appeals hearings are expected to be available nationwide next year. The Veterans Affairs Department says the capability is based on its popular VA Video Connect tele-health app. VA began testing virtual hearings over the summer. The Board of Veterans Appeals has held 155 successful virtual hearings so far. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says the new capability will allow veterans who otherwise would have had to cancel their hearing appointments to participate and get a decision. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Bipartisan leadership of the House Modernization Committee is looking to put nearly 30 of its recommendations into practice. The Moving Our Democracy and Congressional Operations Towards Modernization act, would re-reestablish the Office of Technology Assessment, and streamline House human resources functions. The bill would also improve orientation and continuous learning opportunities for members and their staffs. Following a House floor vote … the committee will work with the House Administration Committee to implement these recommendations. (House Modernization Committee)
  • GSA is starting to prepare contractor and other external systems for the move to a new unique identifier for contractors by December 2020. The agency released two new application programming interfaces or APIs to let systems more easily interface with and pull data from beta dot sam dot gov.Before the end of December, GSA also will release its testing plan and will issue the updated technical specifications for these external systems. (General Services Administration)
  • President Trump is expected to nominate a sixth member to serve on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors. Trump’s pick, William Zollars, serves on the board of directors at Cerner, and previously worked as the president and CEO of the transportation and logistics business YRC Freight. The board reached a quorum for the first time in nearly five years … when the Senate confirmed three new members this summer. The board will select a new postmaster general after the agency’s current head, Megan Brennan, retires in January. (White House)
  • Two agencies up in the air have appointed new people to crucial positions. At the Federal Communications Commission, Francisco Salguero is the new chief information officer. Salguero had been deputy CIO at the Agriculture Department. Earlier he worked at contractor SAIC. At NASA, Robert Pearce becomes the new associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, losing the acting before the title. A 30-year NASA employee, Pearce will oversee projects such as new air vehicle concepts and airspace operations research.

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