State Department looks to stop corruption thriving because of the pandemic

In today's Federal Newscast, the State Department offers grant funding for organizations with ideas on stopping corruption connected to the pandemic.

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  • The State Department offers grant funding for organizations with ideas on stopping corruption connected to the pandemic. Stating corruption thrives in times of crisis, State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor launched a million dollar competitive grant program. It’s looking for companies, non-profits or schools that can work across national boundaries, with projects that, in State’s words, demonstrate substantial experience with anti-corruption programming. That might include advocating for transparency in public procurement, mobilizing local civil society groups, and working with investigative media to shed light on corruption.
  • There’s a lot for federal employees to like in the $3 trillion coronavirus relief package from House Democrats. The Heroes Act includes a requirement that eligible federal employees continue teleworking through the end of the year. It also includes pandemic premium payments, worth up to $10,000 for federal employees working on the front lines of the coronavirus response. The House is expected vote Friday on the Heroes Act. But the Senate Republicans say the bill won’t go much further. (Federal News Network)
  • $1 billion. That’s how much House Democrats want to give agencies to modernize their technology. In the latest version of the stimulus bill, House lawmakers are proposing a huge increase for the Technology Modernization Fund. In the previous stimulus bill, the House Appropriations Committee allocated $3 billion for TMF only to receive no new funding in the final law.
  • FEMA is thinking beyond just disaster relief for a big-picture look at its financial data. The agency has launched a data modernization initiative to replace its current analytics platform. This project will help FEMA’s partners get a better look at data on its portfolio of non-disaster work, such as preparedness grants and pre-disaster mitigation funding. FEMA is also trying to build trust in data sharing with other entities after an inspector general report found it overshared sensitive data on more than two million disaster survivors enrolled in transition shelter programs. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army’s largest training event will look a little different this year due to the coronavirus. Cadet Summer Training, which brings together active duty Army, reserve, National Guard members and more than 10,000 cadets will not take place at Fort Knox over the summer. Instead, it will be distributed to campuses during the fall semester, conducted online and some field tests will be done at local military installations. The change is an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. Senior cadets who have completed all other training will not be required to take the deferred summer training and will commission on time.
  • The Navy is opening six more “tech bridge” locations to connect local innovators with government research dollars. Three of the sites are in California – the other three will serve the National Capital Region, southern Maryland and the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. They’re the latest additions to what the Navy hopes will be a nationwide innovation network. The goals are to cut down on duplication while also connecting businesses with good ideas on one side of the country with local commands on the other side who need their work. In the shorter term, the Navy also hopes to use the tech bridges to speed funding to small businesses who are teetering because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Federal News Network)
  • The Government Accountability Office is telling the Defense Department where it needs to shape up the most. The government’s watchdog organization says there are 91 improvements that the Pentagon can make that should take priority over all of the others. The improvements are recommendations from previous reports made by GAO to the Defense Department and they range from acquisition to readiness to business reform. Two of the recommendations address stopping sexual harassment by developing a strategy for holding leadership accountable and developing oversight mechanisms to guide DoD’s enforcement efforts.
  • DoD and Health and Human Services awarded a $138 million contract to expand the production capability for injection devices starting October 2020. The project will build up the supply chain for pre-filled syringes in response to coronavirus, by manufacturing more than 100 million of them for distribution. (Department of Defense)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has accepted a donation of 500,000 protective masks from South Korea. VA medical facilities across the country will accept the masks. VA is helping at least 38 states respond to the pandemic as part of the department’s fourth mission. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says the donation is a sign of the respect the United States and South Korea formed nearly 70 years during the Korean War.
  • For the first time since the Trump administration began, the Department of Homeland Security has a Senate confirmed chief financial officer. The Senate approved Troy Edgar to that role yesterday by a vote of 62 to 31. Edgar had been serving as the associate deputy Under Secretary of Management at DHS since January. Before coming to DHS, Edgar worked in the private sector for 30 years, including as the CFO for Boeing and as a practice leader at Price Waterhouse.
  • President Trump’s pick to oversee $500 billion in pandemic spending will now move to a full Senate vote. The Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee approved Brian Miller’s nomination to serve as the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to oversee how the Treasury Department handles pandemic relief spending. Miller previously served as the IG for the General Services Administration and is a member of the White House Counsel’s Office.
  • One of the longest serving CIOs is moving to a new, higher profile role in government. It may have taken a bit longer than expected, but Maria Roat is heading over to the Office of Management and Budget to be the deputy federal chief information officer. Roat has been the CIO at the Small Business Administration since 2016. She was rumored to take over the role in January, but OMB had to open up the position and received a large number of candidates who applied for the position. Roat replaces Margie Graves, who retired in December. Along with SBA, Roat worked at the Transportation Department and ran the cloud security program known at FedRAMP. (Federal News Network)
  • The White House is officially involved in the drama with the Thrift Savings Plan. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia brought a directive straight from the president to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The White House wants the board to immediately stop its plans to move the international fund to a new benchmark. The benchmark includes Chinese securities. The FRTIB was expected to implement the I fund transition in the coming weeks or months. The TSP board is meeting today to discuss the directive. (Federal News Network)

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