Skills gaps in the federal workforce starting to have consequences

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  • Skills gaps across the federal workforce played a role in nearly half of government’s high-risk areas. The Government Accountability Office said they specifically contributed to 49% of all governmentwide high risks. The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general cited them as one of the agency’s ongoing management challenges for fiscal 2020. The IG said OPM made some progress over the last year. But OPM needs to continue to facilitate more conversations and advertise best practices with agencies to close these gaps. (Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General)
  • Less than three weeks out from the deadline to avert a government shutdown, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said a year-long continuing resolution remains an unpopular, but likely option for Congress to pursue. Lankford told reporters he would oppose a year-long CR, because of the disruption it would bring to agencies’ budget planning. Lankford cited frequent shutdowns as a top item on his ‘Federal Fumbles’ list of wasteful government spending, and co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) that would trigger automatic CR’s in the event of a shutdown. (Federal News Network)
  • Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are taking their concerns for the Thrift Savings Plan and the international fund right to the president. They want President Donald Trump to appoint new members to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board after its decision to move the I fund to a new emerging markets benchmark that includes Chinese companies. Rubio and Scott said Trump should pay special attention to replacing board members whose terms have expired. (Federal News Network)
  • Paul Ray, the president’s permanent pick to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. But Democrats on the committee claim the Office of Management and Budget has withheld documents needed to vet Ray. The Democrats, led by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), have urged OMB’s Office of Legal Counsel to turn over those records, so the committee can assess how Ray has led the agency in an acting capacity since June 2018. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • The Senate confirmed a new head of the Energy Department. Several Democrats voted with the majority of Republicans to confirm Dan Brouillette as the next Energy Secretary, to succeed Rick Perry. Brouillette has been deputy secretary for the past two years. Before that he was head of public policy for USAA, a financial services company serving military members and veterans. Earlier he worked at Ford Motor Company. Brouillette was chief of staff for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce before joining Energy for two years during the Bush administration. (Associated Press)
  • A new round of re-enlistment bonuses for Navy sailors with hard-to-find skills is in store. The incentive payments go as high as $100,000, depending on how long service members agree to stay and their career specialty. Officials said they’re also expanding a pay-for-performance pilot program to boost those bonuses for the Navy’s highest performers. (Navy)
  • DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is looking for a hybrid cloud to host its applications. The Defense Information Systems Agency is soliciting businesses to form the Joint Common Foundation, which will be used by JAIC to build, test and hold its software. DISA will hold an industry day in early January, which will be followed by a request for proposals in the second quarter of 2020. DISA wants to award the contract by the end of 2020.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy found issues with private military housing remediation and the homes themselves after touring Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Kaine told reporters after the tour that some maintenance jobs were sloppily done, and families are still waiting for their homes to be cleared of mold and pest infestation. The revelations come 10 months after Congress first took notice of nationwide problems with the management of privatized military homes.
  • The Defense Department is moving forward with a pair of experiments with 5G technology on military bases. The Pentagon released draft versions of two requests for prototype proposals yesterday. Vendors have two weeks to respond with comments before DoD issues the final solicitations. One project would attempt to build a 5G “smart warehouse” at the Marine Corps’ Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia. The other would study ways to minimize interference between 5G signals and radar systems at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. DoD said it plans to release draft solicitations for two more 5G prototypes in the coming weeks.
  • The Defense Contract Management Agency is bringing together its civilian and uniformed human resources offices. DCMA created a new Total Force Directorate and named Michael Beaupre as its new director. Previously, DCMA had two separate human resources offices focused on civilian personnel and on military personnel. Now, both offices led by senior officials will report to Beaupre. Over the next few months, Beaupre will go on a listening tour and then come up with a strategy to move the directorate forward. (Defense Contract Management Agency)
  • Nearly three years in the making, the Small Business Administration finalized major rule changes to its government contracting programs. Among these are more public contract bundling notifications, procurement center representatives will get expanded oversight, and agencies can earn double credit for disaster contracts. SBA issued a final rule last week detailing a host of changes. Among the most significant is the new requirement for agencies to publish within seven days the details of a substantial bundling of contract requirements. Another update authorizes agencies to receive double credit for small business goaling achievements on SBA’s scorecard when they award contracts to local area small businesses in connection with a disaster. A third change lets procurement center representatives review any acquisition regardless of whether it is set aside, partially set aside, or reserved for small business. (Federal Register)

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