GSA takes aim at those submitting fake comments on proposed regulations

In today's Federal Newscast, the General Services Administration launched a bid to ensure fairness in an important part of federal rule-making.

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  • The General Services Administration launched a bid to ensure fairness in an important part of federal rule-making. GSA rulemaking experts will take on fake comments submitted, either to support or oppose proposed federal rules. Officials say commenting under false names, using the e-rulemaking site, can muddy up the rule-making process. Together with White House, Small Business Administration, Mitre Corporation and industry representatives, GSA will convene a public meeting on Thursday. They’ll discuss ways to limit fake identities and bulk submissions.
  • The Thrift Savings Plan wants to make it easier for participants to make additional catch-up contributions. Participants can make catch-up contributions that exceed the statutory limit that any one person can typically make to the TSP. They had to fill out two separate forms to make these extra contributions in the past though. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said its record keeping system will be able to automatically determine whether participants are eligible to make catch-up contributions in the future, eliminating the need for extra paperwork. (Federal Register)
  • Federal employees have until Thursday, Jan. 30, to submit an innovative idea to the General Services Administration’s 10x group for funding. 10x is an incremental investment fund for internal projects that can scale across the government. Ideas accepted into phase 1 are eligible to receive up to $20,000. The program is looking for ideas that positively impact the government or public, that improve the public’s experience with agencies through technology and/or improves how the government builds and shares technology to better serve the public. (General Services Administration)
  • Five Senate Democrats joined House leadership in opposing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s plans to change official time procedures for union representatives. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.)Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) expressed their concerns in a letter to EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon. They said the commission’s proposed policy limits federal employees and their choice of representation. (Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee)
  • GSA is exploring the “pay by the drink” model for cloud services. The General Services Administration is asking industry to comment on a major change to how agencies can buy cloud computing services from the schedule contracts. Federal News Network obtained a copy of a draft memo where GSA is proposing agencies use a contract structure more closely tied to real-time demand and includes greater flexibility. The draft memo requires agencies to use multi-year or no-year funding. At the same time, the draft says agencies must establish a ceiling based on projected use. (Federal News Network)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration, Energy Department and Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons spent $50 million on warehouses in fiscal 2018, without knowing if they still need the space, according to the Government Accountability Office. GAO recommends the General Services Administration provide further guidance to agencies to help them assess their need for warehouse space. (Government Accountability Office)
  • An audit from the National Security Agency’s inspector general has found the agency’s chief information officer still lacks clearly defined authorities and responsibilities. The IG’s semiannual report to Congress found the NSA made progress meeting the CIO standards outlined in the Clinger-Cohen Act and a 2011 memo from the Office of Management and Budget. But the IG also found the agency still lacks documented responsibilities for its CIO, and failed to include the CIO in agency org charts. (National Security Agency Office of Inspector General)
  • One lawmaker is looking for more answers about head trauma suffered by U.S. service members in the Iranian attack in Iraq earlier this month. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ.), co-chair and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, wants information on how service members’ heads were protected during the attack and wants renewed commitment from the Pentagon that it will continue research on the long-term impacts of head trauma. The Defense Department said 34 service members suffered from concussions or traumatic brain injuries during the attack. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon is ordering a new review of how it tracks and reports battlefield injuries. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has tasked DoD’s acting personnel chief, Matthew Donovan, to work together with the Joint Staff on the reassessment. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman announced the review while saying 34 servicemembers have now been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury from this month’s Iranian missile strikes in Iraq. The administration initially reported no casualties from the strikes, but has medevaced at least 11 servicemembers from the country since then. (Federal News Network)
  • Just over three months after he retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford will be joining the nation’s largest defense contractor. Lockheed Martin announced on Friday that Dunford will become a member of its board of directors. He’ll start two weeks from now. Among other duties, the company says he’ll sit on a subcommittee that handles classified business.

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