Time nears for federal contractors to dump Chinese companies

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  • Federal contractors have about six weeks to meet a provision in the 2019 Defense authorization bill that says they are not using any equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in their supply chains. And any hope that deadline may be moved decreased yesterday when the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau formally designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats. This means state and local governments, as well as schools and libraries, who receive money from the FCC’s $8.3 billion dollar Universal Service Fund may no longer purchase, obtain, maintain, improve, modify or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by these suppliers.
  • Two key IT modernization leaders are taking new jobs. Anil Cheriyan and Bob DeLuca have been at the forefront of the Trump administration’s Centers of Excellence IT modernization effort for much of the past 18 months. Now both are leaving. Cheriyan, the director of the Technology Transformation Service at GSA, is heading back to the private sector. His last day at GSA is July 17. Deluca, the executive director of the CoE program, will take over as the deputy CIO at the FDIC starting July 6. Under their leadership, the number of agencies using the CoEs increased to 12 from two since 2018. (Federal News Network)
  • The president is tapping the person behind the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial Colorado move to lead the agency permanently. President Trump appointed William Perry Pendley to be BLM director. Pendley is currently BLM’s acting leader and deputy director for policy and programs. He was behind the BLM headquarters relocation to Colorado and several other western states. BLM has been without a permanent leader for nearly a year.
  • A few months after bringing employees back under a phased approach, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says processing and call centers will return to full staffing by July 15. He told the Senate Finance Committee some employees returning to the office may have to work different schedules in order to meet social distancing requirements. Rettig said certain agency work can’t be done remotely, but more than 50,000 IRS employees have teleworked during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s about two-thirds of its workforce. (Federal News Network)
  • The Trump administration is claiming big economic savings through its regulatory reform effort. For fiscal 2019, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs says regulatory costs eliminated reached $15.5 billion, bringing the total to $51 billion since 2017. Last year agencies issued 150 deregulatory actions. For this year’s regulatory budget, OIRA estimates final rule making will result in savings of another $51 billion in regulatory costs, after Homeland Security adds $35 billion. The biggest cuts will occur in EPA and the Transportation Department.
  • Defense businesses shouldn’t expect any more help from Congress. The leader of the House Armed Services Committee says he doesn’t want to float any more funds to defense companies for coronavirus relief. Congress gave the Defense Department $10.5 billion in the March stimulus package. Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) says that money plus the $741 billion his panel is authorizing for the 2021 defense budget is enough for the Pentagon to work with. He offered using funds taken from DoD for the border wall as a means of finding extra money if it is needed.
  • The Navy is standing up a new task force to address racism and bias across the service. It’s called Task Force One Navy. The new organization will be led by Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey, a black one-star admiral who currently commands the Navy’s Carrier Strike Group One. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, says he wants the task force to look for causes of systemic racism across the force. “From recruiting and assignments, advancements and promotions to our military justice system, we must demand of each other that we treat everyone with digniity and respect,” Gilday said in a video message to the fleet. “If you won’t do that, then our Navy is not the best place for you.”
  • There may be a battle brewing over the Defense Department’s chief management officer position. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) says he wants to give the position more of a chance before ripping the rug out from beneath it. The 20-21 senate defense appropriations bill gets rid of the CMO role. The provision is based off of a Defense Business Board report that says the CMO has not met Congress’ intent of driving lasting and meaningful business reforms throughout the military services and Defense agencies
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs says veterans will soon be able to submit and track travel reimbursement claims more easily. The VA will roll out the Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System in phases across the country starting in this month. The system will give veterans a simpler process to submit mileage claims for their travel to-and-from a VA health care facility. The new travel reimbursement system should be in place nationwide by November.
  • A bill to prevent agencies from sending payments to dead people passes the Senate. The Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act would give more agencies access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The bill requires agencies to use this comprehensive death data to avoid sending improper payments. The bill also requires SSA to screen its data for individuals listed as living but extremely old. A 2015 inspector general report found the agency listed more than six million people as alive and older than 112 years.