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A new bill is trying to put more rigor around award and incentive fees for contractors. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the Bogus Bonus Ban Act to try to rein in excessive spending on unwarranted bonuses to contractors who fail to meet certain standards on federal projects. If passed, the legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget to develop criteria to link award fees to outcomes like cost, schedule and performance. OMB also would have to describe when a performance bonus is paid for worked deemed to be excellent or satisfactory.
A bill which would require the Treasury Department to keep tabs on tax-delinquent federal employees has been introduced in the Senate. The Federal Employees and Retirees with Delinquent Tax Debt Initiative, or FERDI Act, would notify Congress about workers with unpaid tax debts, or an unfiled tax return for the most recent fiscal year. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently found more than a thousand IRS employees were delinquent on their taxes in 2017. (Department of the Treasury)
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) say they’re extremely concerned by a recent proposal from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to change official time procedures for union representatives. EEOC wants to exclude union representatives from using official time to prepare equal employment opportunity complaints on behalf their coworkers. Maloney and Scott say they want to know how the new policy would impact employees who previously relied on the union for free legal representation. (Federal News Network)
Over 2,500 appeals are sitting before the Merit Systems Protection Board. The board has lacked a quorum for three years now. MSPB says attorneys continue to review and prepare decisions on those appeals as if a board were present. But the board needs the Senate to confirm at least two out of three of the president’s nominees to restore a quorum. The delays have sparked a debate among employee unions and associations, over who’s to blame for the historic absences. (Federal News Network)
NASA named a long serving executive to the top position at one of its major centers. Dennis Andrucyk has become the director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He was deputy associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate. There he oversaw several satellite observing system projects, including use of tiny, low cost CubeSats. Andrucyk joined NASA in 1988 after working in several companies and federal agencies. A Senior Executive Service member, Andrucyk is a two-time Presidential Rank Award winner. (NASA)
The Postal Service runs one of the world’s largest IT networks, but its inspector general has found connectivity issues have led to higher operating costs. One processing center in Sacramento reported more than 50 connectivity problems since December 2017, which cost that site more than $1 million in labor costs in the same period of time. The processing center also lacked basic system controls, like backup generators. The IG recommends the Postal Service’s vice presidents of IT and engineering systems develop enterprise-wide metrics and improvement targets. (U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General)
NIST is giving agency executives a way to make sure their cybersecurity monitoring is happening continuously. A new draft special publication from the National Institute of Standards and Technology details an approach to measure the effectiveness of agency cyber continuous monitoring programs. The document describes what a good continuous monitoring program looks like, possible criteria for measuring program impacts and defines a way to conduct these assessments. NIST says an effective assessment program can help reduce cyber risks and identify gaps in continuous monitoring efforts. Comments on SP-800-137A are due February 28. (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
Defense Secretary Mark Esper is promising much stricter monitoring of foreign military students following last month’s mass shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station. In a visit to the base yesterday, he said new screening processes will look at “every aspect” of foreign students’ backgrounds, including their social media activity. He says they’ll also be subject to “continuous monitoring” even after being approved for access to U.S. bases. (Department of Defense)
There’s a new process for evaluating Army battalion commanders that may extend to other leadership assessments. The new test is trying to take a holistic look at candidates by evaluating cognitive ability, physical fitness and written and verbal skills. Candidates’ subordinates are also surveyed and the officers are screened by a panel of Army leaders. The service says the test will help elevate the right leaders for the future of the Army. The new process is currently selecting commanders for 2021. (Federal News Network)
The average cost of general and flag officers ranges from $600,000 to $3 million a year, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation. The study finds the cost of general and flag officers increases with rank and the cost primarily reflects staff increases in roles that support the positions. The most expensive officers can cost as much as $10 million a year if they receive continuous protection and are required to use government aircraft for official travel.
The Trump Administration faces more legal challenges in its attempt to divert military construction funding for the president’s border wall. Attorneys for Washington State are arguing that not only does the administration’s move infringe on Congress’s power of the purse — it would harm Washington residents by delaying construction projects on at least one local Navy base. The Seattle judge hearing the case plans to make a ruling in the next several weeks. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an emergency injunction to block the funding transfer. A decision in that case could come as soon as today. (Federal News Network)