Less than half of BLM employees ordered to move out west will be doing so

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  • Less than half of the employees who were tapped for the upcoming Bureau of Land Management relocation will make the move. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says BLM issued 173 relocation notices to employees. About 80 accepted the move to Colorado. The rest have retired or taken other jobs. Bernhardt says he’s not concerned about the BLM’s ability to fill vacancies, or continue mission work during the relocation. He says Interior is pleased with the number and caliber of talent who are applying to BLM jobs in Grand Junction, Colorado. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • A bill to highlight when foreign entities lease office space to agencies with sensitive data passes the Senate. The Secure Federal LEASEs Act would require the General Services Administration to set up a system that notifies property owners if a tenant agency stores sensitive information in their leased office space. The bill from Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) stems from a 2017 Government Accountability Office report that found foreign actors could gain access to classified operations and sensitive data in these leased facilities.
  • GSA comes under fire from lawmakers about the progress of several of its key initiatives. The General Services Administration faced a series of tough questions about its e-commerce platform initiative, the transition to the new telecommunications contract and the financial stability of its 18F organization. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee members asked agency leaders what can be done to get agencies to move faster to modernize their networks. GAO says many medium and large agencies are at risk of missing key deadlines to move to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS contract. Legislators also wanted more information about how GSA is ensuring the products bought through the e-commerce platform don’t bring additional risk to agencies. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department plans to add the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification into its acquisition rules by this October. The Pentagon’s procurement chief says the first public hearing on the rule changes will happen in late April or early May. The CMMC specifies five levels of cybersecurity ranging from basic hygiene to lists of security controls that companies must follow to work with the military. DoD says it will take until 2026 for the system makes it all the way to new procurements.
  • Foreign militaries owe the Defense Department about a billion dollars in unpaid bills. A new report from the Government Accountability Office estimates 6,000 orders for items like ammunition and fuel are still awaiting payment. DoD has acquisition and cross-servicing agreements with more than 100 other countries, but GAO says it’s not doing enough to track whether those nations are paying for their orders.
  • A defense contractor faces espionage charges for allegedly passing classified information to a man with ties to Hezbollah. The Justice Department says 61-year-old Mariam Taha Thompson was working as a contract linguist in Iraq earlier this year when she started to access secret records on foreign nationals who were helping the U.S. government. Court filings claim she passed along their identities, along with a recommendation that their phones be monitored. Prosecutors also say she attempted to warn some of the people being secretly targeted by U.S. military operations. (Federal News Network)
  • The government’s leading research grant agency names an executive responsible for the security of research. The National Science Foundation names Rebecca Keiser as chief of research security, a new position. She’ll advise the NSF director on strategies to protect research, while maintaining openness and transparency. NSF officials are concerned about misuse or theft of research by certain governments including China. Keiser had been leading NSF’s Office of International Science and Engineering. Her new job comes following a study of research security last year by the Mitre Corporation.
  • The Army is working with the Defense Department to determine how big its medical facilities should be, and how some medical assets will move to the Defense Health Agency. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy says they’re focusing on bases in rural areas where changes could oversaturate civilian doctors and leave the population vulnerable. McCarthy is also concerned about how the DHA takeover of Army medical research facilities will affect the recruitment of talent. (Federal News Network)
  • Some Air Force employees at the Pentagon will work from home tomorrow as a part of a regular telework capacity test. The Air Force says it regularly conducts these exercises. They’re usually scheduled for snow days. But the Washington-area didn’t get much snow this year. So the Air Force chose Friday as the day for a telework practice run. The Office of Personnel Management urged agencies to ensure as many employees as possible are telework ready amid growing concerns over the coronavirus. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Treasury Employees Union is asking 30 agencies for their pandemic plans amid growing concerns over the coronavirus. NTEU says they’ll collect agency emergency plans and post them online for members. NTEU is has meetings scheduled next week with a few agencies about their coronavirus plans. The union has meetings scheduled next week with the IRS, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security about their coronavirus plans. NTEU says it’s concerned the IRS doesn’t a have a plan to protect employees from the virus during the upcoming tax filing season. (Federal News Network)
  • There’s now officially a new permanent leader at the American Federation of Government Employees. The union swore in Everett Kelley as AFGE national president earlier this week. Kelley was AFGE’s national secretary treasurer. He served as the acting national president during J. David Cox’s recent leave of absence. Cox retired last Friday amid a months-long sexual harassment investigation. Kelley joined AFGE back in 1981. (American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The Social Security Administration’s inspector general warns the public about a new wave of scams. The IG says fraudsters impersonating agency officials have sent text messages to people, threatening to call them about an unspecified Social Security problem to avoid legal action. The IG says the scammers attempt to get people to send money or provide personal information. SSA only sends texts when people have opted into the service. (Social Security Administration)