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In another congressional effort to eliminate some federal agencies, Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced the Federal Agency Sunset Act. The bill would set up a temporary federal commission to propose recommendations for eliminating certain agencies. The commission would also study inefficiencies in government and determine what government functions could be relegated to the private sector. The bill would allow the commission to fast-track recommendations in Congress. Commissioners must introduce resolutions within 60 days of making proposals in Congress. And Congress must bring resolutions to the House and Senate floor for consideration within 90 days of introduction.
Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has removed his hold on two Trump administration nominations after the White House shed more light on the firings of two inspectors general. Grassley earlier this month held up President Donald Trump’s picks for the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security. But Grassley said the White House provided more details into the president’s firing of IGs for the State Department and the intelligence community. Meanwhile Grassley has joined Sen. Gary Peters in introducing the Securing Inspector General Independence Act. The bill would require any president to give Congress a detailed reason for removing any IG from office.
Agencies are awarding contracts to vendors who have been suspended and debarred because of a simple data exchange shortcoming. A new report from the General Services Administration’s inspector general found the agency fails to update tools like GSA Advantage or e-Buy in a timely manner when a contractor is excluded from federal work. Auditors say the data input problems ranged from agencies selecting the wrong classification type to simple mistakes like entering incorrect addresses. The IG made two recommendations, which GSA agreed with.
The Green Building Advisory Committee drafted a letter to the General Services Administration recommending the federal landlord pilot renewable energy outleasing. Renewable Energy Outleasing means GSA would lease out unused space such as rooftops and parking lots to solar energy providers. Profits from the lease would go into the Federal Buildings Fund. The draft letter recommends three historic federal courthouses in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as good candidates for a pilot. (Federal News Network)
Not every bill costs taxpayers a trillion dollars. This bill would help the Treasury deal with small change. Like two sides of a coin, this U.S. Mint bill has a republican and democratic sponsor in Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). It would let the Mint, for the duration of the pandemic, tweak the metal content in coins. In theory, it would let the Mint churn out more coins to cope with a national shortage from less commerce. It would also save the Treasury up to $17 million.
A leading Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee introduces a bill to make disinformation a top concern for the Department of Homeland Security. The Protecting Against Public Safety Disinformation Act, would require DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis to study the impact of disinformation on homeland security threats. The bill from Congresswoman Lauren Underwood would also require DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate to develop and recommend ways to counter disinformation threats. The agency would also have to brief Congress on its findings.
A new survey is gauging just how ready industry is to help government get to a zero trust environment. GSA and ACT-IAC are assessing the products and services to help agencies improve cybersecurity through a zero trust framework. The agency and the industry association released a request for information to gauge contractors’ maturity around zero trust. The seven questions focus on how products and services align with specific Zero Trust policies or requirements as well as asking vendors to share current and future use cases as examples of implementation. This is the second phase of a joint effort to assess the current and future market for zero trust.
The Government Accountability Office is wondering how accurate those annual cost-of-living adjustments for federal retirees really are. GAO says the Bureau of Labor Statistics can’t be sure it has adequate data to produce consumer price indices. It’s unclear whether those CPIs truly reflect what retirees pay, where they shop and what they buy. BLS says budget challenges have prevented it from collecting more accurate data. But GAO says there are more cost-efficient ways to collect and then set more accurate consumer price indices.
Two senators want to give TRICARE recipients some relief during national emergencies. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced a proposal to waive prescription drug co-pays for TRICARE beneficiaries during a national or public health crises. The lawmakers say to proposal will help those who are unable to get to a military treatment facility to fill prescriptions. There is no co-pay at military facilities. TRICARE drug co-pays increased this year to try to offset some healthcare costs. The increases ranged from three dollars to 10 dollars depending on the drug and delivery method.
Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne Bass will be the first woman to lead as the top enlisted airman in the Air Force. Bass currently serves as the command chief master sergeant for the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base. Bass will serve under Gen. Charles Brown, who is expected to take over as chief as staff of the Air Force this summer. Bass will assume the top enlisted position from Kaleth Wright.
Thousands of workers at one of the Navy’s largest private shipyards went on strike this morning. Employees at Bath Iron Works voted overwhelmingly this weekend to reject the company’s final contract offer and start picketing. It’s the first strike in 20 years for Machinists Union Local S6 in Bath, Maine. The shipyard – one of two that produces destroyers for the Navy – was already about six months behind on its production schedules, partly because the coronavirus pandemic halted its hiring efforts. The company has been trying to use non-union subcontractors to fill those gaps – one of the issues that led to the strike. (Federal News Network)
There’s a plan to help restore annual leave for some federal employees working through the pandemic. Certain employees will be able to reclaim the annual leave they had to cancel because their services were needed to respond to pandemic. The Office of Personnel Management says these employees will be able to hold onto the annual leave they’d otherwise have to forfeit under the usual use-or-lose carryover rules. OPM says it’ll write new regulations that explain this in more detail. The policy won’t apply to federal employees who called off their vacation and canceled their leave due to pandemic travel restrictions. OPM says these employees are expected to use their leave before it expires at the end of the year. (Federal News Network)