PRAC details how it plans to monitor coronavirus stimulus funds

In today's Federal Newscast, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee outlines its roadmap for oversight over the next five years.

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  • The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee has outlined its roadmap for oversight over the next five years. The PRAC released its strategic plan required under the CARES Act. The plan details four goals for the inspectors general on the committee. They include providing the public with timely data on coronavirus spending, making efficient use of data and analytics, and mitigating risks that cut across multiple agencies or programs.
  • Some 13,000 employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are safe from furloughs for now. USCIS pushed the potential furlough start date back to Aug. 31. The agency told the American Federation of Government Employees its financial situation has improved but USCIS is still looking for a more permanent funding situation after August. The agency was originally supposed to furlough 13,000 USCIS employees on Aug. 3 unless Congress stepped in with more funding. AFGE said it hopes the furlough delay will give Congress more time to pass emergency funding legislation.
  • Women-owned small businesses take note: The Small Business Administration is changing the certification process for doing business with the federal government. Following a 2015 mandate from Congress, SBA will end its self-certification process for women-owned small businesses on Oct. 15. This comes after the agency’s inspector general found contract awards were going to vendors that didn’t meet the criteria for the program. After the self-certification option expires, business owners must submit their applications through an online platform for SBA approval. (Federal News Network)
  • It may not have a new headquarters building, but the FBI has quite the new warehouse. The 250,000 square foot automated storage-and-retrieval building recently opened in Winchester, Virginia. Designed to hold 2 billion files on closed cases, it’ll take two years worth of semi-trailer deliveries to get all of the files in from FBI field offices. File access is by touchscreen, and robots do the rest. For distant offices, the files are scanned and copies e-mailed. The warehouse sits on 60 acres, so maybe there’s hope for headquarters? (General Services Administration)
  • The Army’s senior leaders are acknowledging some deep-seated problems with sexual harassment. Their comments come in the aftermath of the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood, Texas. Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, said the Army “didn’t take care of her” after she reported being sexually harassed. As an interim step, the Army said its promotion boards will add new questions about how prospective leaders will deal with allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hear testimony this week from the next prospective leader of U.S. Space Command. Lt. Gen. James Dickinson will go before the committee Tuesday. If he’s confirmed, he will replace Gen. John Raymond, who’s led the new command since its official inception last August.
  • Defense Department employees have a new item to check off on their list of computer-based training for this year. All military service members, civilians and contractor employees will have to finish four new courses on operational security by mid-September. Def. Sec. Mark Esper ordered the new online training last week. Esper said recent “leaks” of unclassified information have harmed national security, but it’s still unclear what specific leaks, or types of leaks, have prompted the new OPSEC campaign. It’s part of a broader effort he described in Congressional testimony earlier this month, when he said the department would also take a more aggressive stance toward investigating the sources of leaks.
  • The Air Force Academy is going ahead with in-person classes despite the threat of coronavirus. The Air Force Academy says it will bring back all 4,000 of its students for in-person classes this fall semester. Cadets will start returning this week. The academy says it will test cadets four times over their first two weeks back. The school is creating areas to make social distancing possible during training and courses. Classes will start up again in mid-August. The academy will also house 400 students off campus to allow for more distancing.
  • The Defense Department awarded $77 million in Defense Production Act funds to help sustain and strengthen the industrial base. The awards come in the form of three contracts. The first is a $33.6 million agreement with the eMagin Corporation to replace and update electrical equipment. Another contract is for $15 million with Megitt-Rockmart to increase domestic production of military-grade fuel bladders for aircraft. The final contract is for nearly $30 million to Urban Mining Company to assist in developing a domestic source for some rare earth minerals.

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