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The Justice Department won guilty pleas from the former director of procurement for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the president and CEO of a government contracting firm for bribery. Jeffrey Donahue of Herndon, Virginia admitted to soliciting and receiving cash payments and other things of value, including the promise of a job valued at $1 million in exchange for steering PBGC contracts to ForceWave. Nadeem Ansari, the president and CEO of the HUBZone firm, also pled guilty. Donahue provided sample bid proposals; helped draft, review, and edit the company’s bid proposal; and disclosed labor pricing estimates. When the company did not win the contract, Donahue also helped draft the company’s bid protest.
These are the ten areas that encompass ten new recommendations for the Office of Management and Budget from the Government Accountability Office. GAO says OMB should take specific steps to increase spending transparency, to improve acquisition management and reduce costs, to lower governmentwide improper payments, to strengthen cybersecurity and to establish controls for disaster relief. OMB now has 35 open recommendations, including 15 that would require agencies to implement a federal program inventory, improve program management and address other similar areas. GAO also says OMB should bring back cyberstat and techstat sessions to oversee problematic programs.
The President is moving Russ Vought one step closer to becoming the permanent head of the Office of Management and Budget. President Donald Trump sent Vought’s nomination to the Senate yesterday after deciding in March to nominate him as the replacement for Mick Mulvaney. Vought has been acting OMB director since January 2019.
President Trump is planning to replace some of the members on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Trump nominated John Barger, Christopher Burnham and Frank Dunlevy to replace the existing chairman and two other members on the board. The terms for all five current FRTIB members are technically expired. TSP board members can serve past their congressional terms unlike other agency boards. (White House)
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board voted last fall to move ahead with plans to move the I fund to a new benchmark. Now a new bill in the House would prevent the move. A coalition of federal employee unions are urging supporters to drop the bill. This benchmark tracks emerging markets, including securities from China. But a bipartisan group of lawmakers were highly critical of the plans. Now Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) has a new bill that would explicitly prevent the TSP from moving to the I fund to the new benchmark. A coalition of federal employee unions wrote to Waltz and his cosponsors urging him to drop the bill.
The president sent names of several new Pentagon nominees to the Senate. The White House had already announced its intention to nominate Shon Manasco as the next undersecretary of the Air Force. Yesterday, the administration made it official. Also, the president is nominating John Whitley as DoD’s director of cost assessment and program evaluation. That position has been vacant for a year, since Robert Daigle left the department. Meanwhile, Michele Pearce is the president’s pick to be the Army’s general counsel. She would replace James McPherson, who’s currently the acting secretary of the Navy.
Defense Sec. Mark Esper says he will be sending a letter later this week to the Pentagon’s acquisition chief to see what more the Defense Department can do to help the industrial base during the COVID-19 crisis. Esper says he’s concerned about companies further down the supply chain because there the ones more susceptible to fluctuations in the market. The defense secretary says the Pentagon will likely ask for more money in the next stimulus package to inject into defense businesses. DoD has changed some of its policies during the pandemic to keep defense businesses more liquid and is trying to award contracts faster to keep work steady.
Marines who will be attending military schooling this summer will need to arrive earlier than usual. New Marine Corps guidance states that marines planning on attending the School of Infantry or taking the Combat Instructor Course will need to arrive 14 days early to accommodate coronavirus quarantine regulations. The quarantine is work around of the stop move order restricting service members from going to new orders until June 30. Marines will stay isolated to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms before taking the course.
The Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIHCD, inked an agreement with GSA’s Centers of Excellence group, part of its Technology Transformation Office. A team of experts in data analysis, cloud computing and change management from GSA, plus contractors, will work first with the institute on a plan for accelerated adoption of up-to-date technology.
A bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee is asking how agencies are meeting Freedom of Information Act requests during the pandemic. The 4 senators ask the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy how many agencies are limited in responding to FOIA requests, and whether it’s issued guidance on the issue. The FBI’s FOIA portal warns of delays for requests submitted online or through the mail. Meanwhile the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports getting nearly the same number of FOIA requests in the first half of fiscal 2020 than all of last year. (Sen. Patrick Leahy)
A group of House Democrats are pushing for a special period for part-time transportation security officers to enroll in the federal health insurance program. Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee have a new bill that would give part-time TSOs a chance to change their health plans during this pandemic or other national emergencies. The bill would also require the government’s biweekly contribution to be same for both part-time and full time participants in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Part-time TSOs currently contribute a higher share toward their health premiums compared to full time employees.
The Social Security Administration says it’s still working with its payroll provider to make the changes needed to implement new emergency paid sick leave benefits for its employees. The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act allowed for federal employees who meet certain requirements to receive up to 80-hours of extra paid or partially paid sick leave. But employee unions say SSA is taking longer than others to make the new leave available to its workforce. The Interior Business Center says all of its customer employees can use the new sick leave, even though it’s still working with agencies to program necessary changes in time and attendance systems.
The Census Bureau didn’t finish processing background investigations on more than 10,000 employees over the past few years. The Commerce Department inspector general found the Office of Personnel Management flagged more than 700 of those cases for major issues. Nearly 300 of those employees worked the bureau last year, and about 70 worked on address canvassing operations for the 2020 census. About a dozen employees flagged by OPM for lower-level concerns hold IT jobs or positions deemed high-risk or critical. The IG says these findings cast doubt on the suitability of the decennial workforce.
The Census Bureau is taking a phased approach to reopening 2020 field operations. Starting this week, bureau officials will resume dropping off decennial census packets in parts of the country where households don’t receive mail at their home. This includes areas such as Anchorage, Alaska and Burlington, Vermont. The bureau also expects to complete hiring for nonresponse follow-up in those areas soon. Commerce Department and White House officials last month recommended putting 2020 census field operations on hold nationwide through June 1.