Treasury clarifies, PRAC is allowed to oversee all CARES Act spending

In today's Federal Newscast, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Oversight and Reform Committee the law allows inspectors general on the committee ...

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  • The Treasury Department says the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee has oversight into all spending under the CARES Act. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Oversight and Reform Committee the law allows inspectors general on the committee to review spending under the Paycheck Protection Program, and other funds previously in question. Treasury’s legal counsel and the Office of Management and Budget determined in May that the PRAC only had authority over certain sections of spending in the CARES Act. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency voiced concerns about that legal opinion in a letter to Congress last month.
  • The Small Business Administration and Treasury Department accede to a demand from Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The agencies said they’re releasing detailed data on recipients of business loans made under the Payroll Protection Program. The information will cover loans made to some 4.9 million entities. SBA said it will limit info on recipients of loans less than $150,000 to names and addresses. Members of Congress have been pressing SBA to deliver loan-level data as required by the stimulus law passed in April.
  • A bipartisan bill in the Senate takes another shot at financial relief for the Postal Service. The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would give the agency up to $25 billion to cover losses from the coronavirus pandemic. But USPS would have to demonstrate through quarterly and annual reports that the money offset pandemic-related losses or operational costs. Sens. Susan Collins and Dianne Feinstein introduced the bill, which would also clarify the terms USPS has to agree to for a $10 billion loan guaranteed under the CARES Act.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said it cut the backlog of legacy appeals in half in about a year. VA said the backlog of non-remand legacy appeals is at less than 200,000. It was at more than 400,000 appeals before Congress passed the VA Appeals Modernization Act. The Veterans Benefits Administration is also renaming and reorganizing some of its functions. The newly renamed Office of Administrative Review will be in charge of overseeing the legacy appeals backlog and VBA’s higher level review program. The goal is to resolve all legacy appeals by 2022.
  • Seventy-five Department of Homeland Security employees will take part in a new pilot program focused on transitioning security technology from federal research and development to operational use. The Science and Technology Directorate awarded George Washington University in Washington, D.C., a $5.8 million contract to test out a new Master’s of Business Administration program. DHS personnel will take classes and receive practical experience in the legal, technical and business aspects of research, development, and transition to public and private-sector security agencies. This will include developing and administering courses on topics such as navigating established federal acquisition programs and utilizing more flexible alternative approaches to get technologies into operational use.
  • The General Services Administration released the solicitation for the next generation of its widely popular 8(a) governmentwide acquisition contract. 8(a) STARS III will feature six functional areas ranging from data management to software development to IT security. The governmentwide acquisition contract has a $50 billion ceiling and will require bidders to meet some of the strictest supply chain risk management requirements ever seen in a broad procurement vehicle. GSA released the final request for proposals yesterday. The RFP details what 8(a) firms will need to do to win a spot on the follow-on contract including preparing to meet the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification or CMMC program standards. Bids are due Aug. 5.
  • A group of victims is suing the American Federation of Government Employees over the conduct of its former national president. Two people who describe themselves as former drivers for J. David Cox say he sexually assaulted, harassed and discriminated against them on the job. They have now filed suit in federal district court. The plaintiffs say they’re also suing current AFGE national leaders for failing to take action after receiving numerous complaints about Cox. They’re demanding a trial by jury and compensatory and other damages. Cox resigned earlier this year amid an ongoing sexual harassment scandal involving other former AFGE employees. (Federal News Network)
  • A new Pentagon audit finds the military services may be wasting a lot of money on security details for senior DoD officials. As of now, whether or not an official gets a security detail — and how large it is — is based completely on how senior their position is. But the DoD inspector general said it would make more sense — and be more cost effective — if the services based those decisions on whether or not the official faced a genuine security threat. The new report identifies several other examples of potentially wasteful spending. One example: Each military service sends its own security personnel to protect its senior officials when they travel, even if a sister service might have perfectly qualified personnel already on the ground at the destination.
  • Lt. Gen. Richard Clark was nominated as the next superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy. If confirmed by the Senate, Clark will replace Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria who has lead the school since 2017 and will retire this year. Clark currently works as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. He also served as the vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. (Department of Defense)
  • The Defense Department had a record month of coronavirus cases, but it’s still opening bases where possible. The Defense Department saw its coronavirus cases more than double over the last month. However, the Pentagon is still going ahead with its plan to reopen bases and lift service member travel restrictions where it can. To date, 70 of the military’s 230 bases have reopened. DoD is using an area-based protocol to open its installations. Bases must show a downward trend of cases in their area and show they have the health infrastructure available for a spike in cases before restrictions can be lifted. (Federal News Network)
  • The majority of regional offices at the Environmental Protection Agency are in the initial stages of reopening. All but two EPA regional offices are under phase one of the agency’s reopening plan. Just region six in Dallas and region nine in San Francisco are the exceptions. EPA and the American Federation of Government Employees are preparing to bargain over those reopening plans next Monday. EPA said it’s putting together its national bargaining team ahead of negotiations next week. EPA employees say they’re concerned about coming back to the office too quickly. They’re also looking for more detail on the agency’s reopening plans in later stages. (Federal News Network)

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