After hearing complaints, GSA moves to make information easier to find

In today's Federal Newscast, the General Services Administration is trying to make it easier to learn and ask questions about its relatively new co...

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  • Faced with growing frustrations over the contract opportunities portal, GSA is trying to make it easy to learn and ask questions about the site. GSA said it has consolidated all articles, how-to videos and industry day information in one place. The goal is to help vendors and contracting officers find information on how to best use the site. (General Services Administration)
  • Federal employees who lose income or other expenses due to a natural disaster may soon have an easier time borrowing from their Thrift Savings Plan. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board wants to let TSP participants take hardship withdrawals in the event of a natural disaster. The IRS recently added natural disasters to its safe harbor list of possible financial hardship expenses. The TSP is proposing regulations that mirror IRS policy. (Federal Register)
  • A longtime cyber and IT watchdog at the Government Accountability Office will retire at the end of March. Greg Wilshusen, director of GAO’s IT and cybersecurity team, will leave the agency after more than 20 years of experience. Prior to joining GAO, Wilshusen served as the controller for the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources. He also held senior auditing positions with the U.S. Army Audit Agency.
  • The former HHS chief technology officer has landed a new role in industry. Kidney X, Lime Innovation Initiative, and the Ignite Accelerator are a few of the initiatives Ed Simcox spearheaded as the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services over the last three years. Simcox, who left his position earlier this month, has moved on to the private sector. He is the new chief strategy officer at LifeOmic, a developer of mobile apps and a precision health cloud platform provider. Simcox said these and other initiatives helped bring a culture to HHS where data, innovation and cutting-edge technology drives policy and priorities. (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • The National Guard Association is calling on President Donald Trump to restore the more than $1 billion in National Guard Equipment the Pentagon cut in its 2020 budget. That money was part of the $3.8 billion that the Defense Department reprogrammed to build a wall on the southern border. The cuts include two C-130 cargo planes and nearly $800 million in the National Guard and Reserve equipment account.
  • The Navy is going on a fiscal diet. The service’s acting secretary is in search of $40 billion to cut out of old legacy systems and duplicative services. The Stem-to-Stern Review will be run by the deputy undersecretary of the Navy and the chief management officer. Every program will be considered for cuts, however IT duplications, bloated headquarters and service support contracts will be paid extra attention. The Navy says it is unlikely to get more money to build a bigger fleet in the coming years, so it needs to find funds internally. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon is rolling out a plan to downsize dozens of its military hospitals and clinics. A move that would affect about 200,000 military family members and retirees. The Defense Department said the changes are primarily meant to focus its own doctors and nurses on the same active duty populations they’d need to take care of in a wartime environment. As a result, more than three dozen clinics would close their doors to retirees and family members, and treat uniformed servicemembers only. DoD said no changes will happen until officials are confident that private providers have enough capacity to care for those tens of thousands of retirees and family members. (Federal News Network)
  • New numbers show the Army has more recruits compared to this time last year. Army Recruiting Command leader Maj. Gen. Frank Muth attributed the numbers to virtual recruiting centers and the Army’s push to be part of the E-Sports world. The branch is also focusing efforts on major cities. It will be growing by about 1,000 active duty soldiers in the coming year.
  • The Pentagon expects it’ll meet a major milestone next year in modernizing the security clearance system. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency said it plans deploy its end-to-end security clearance case management system sometime in 2021. DCSA will start using the National Background Investigation Service for tier one clearances first. Legacy systems will handle the rest until NBIS is ready for more customers. (Department of Defense)
  • A high level national security executive is headed out of the Trump administration. This time it’s John Rood, the undersecretary of Defense for Policy, who was on the job a little more than two years. James Anderson, Rood’s deputy, will act in his place. Published accounts say Trump wanted Rood out, even though Trump sent a well-wishes tweet. But Rood last spring recommended sending military aide to Ukraine, money the White House subsequently withheld, temporarily. In his resignation letter, Rood stated he understood the president requested the departure. (Associated Press)
  • A new Cyber Foundry for the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group is officially open for business. It will serve as a physical space to train cyber personnel, study techniques from industry, as well as develop offensive cyber capabilities. (Navy)
  • There will be more to come from the National Institute of Standards and Technology regarding privacy standards. NIST Director Walter Copan said the agency’s recently released privacy framework marked the beginning of a larger policy rollout. He said up next will be standards around differential privacy. That technique, in use by the Census Bureau for the 2020 population count, injects mathematical “noise” into data, to protect individuals’ privacy, while still producing statistically valuable information. (Federal News Network)

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