Congressional regulators voice concerns about Postal Service delivery standards

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  • More than 130 House members told the Postal Service they’re concerned with mail delivery standards ahead of the November election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) led a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy urging the agency to treat all election mail as first-class mail, even for state and local election offices that pay lower commercial mail rates. DeJoy said the Postal Service has the capacity to deliver election mail under current delivery standards.
  • Top House Oversight leader Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) is concerned about the delays to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The Office of Personnel Management delayed the survey twice so far this year — first in the early days of the pandemic, and then again in July for no reason. Connolly wants more information on why OPM delayed the annual survey a second time. OPM is expected to begin administering the 2020 survey Sept. 14. (Federal News Network)
  • Dealing with difficult deadlines is starting to impact nearly every agency. Four former Census Bureau directors appealed to Congress to extend the Dec. 1, 2020 count results deadline to April 1, the schedule having been squeezed by pandemic. But John Thompson said he’s heard no response. And there’s no extension to the confusing rule about contractors and their need to swear they don’t use banned Chinese telecom equipment, or no federal contracts. The so-called Section 889 rules goes into effect today, as the final 2020 buying season heats up.
  • Small businesses have a big stake in the federal marketplace that’s only getting bigger. Nearly $133 billion in prime contract awards went to small businesses last year, which is $12 billion above 2018 spending. Agencies also exceeded the Small Business Administration’s  goal of awarding 5% of prime contracts to women-owned small businesses. That’s only the second time agencies have achieved that goal, but they’ve come close in recent years. The government still fell short of its prime contracting goal for historically underutilized business zones, but agencies still spent more on HUBZone businesses than they have in seven years. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Archives and Records Administration has named 20 Freedom of Information Act experts to serve for the next two years on its FOIA Advisory Committee. The committee makes recommendations to improve the FOIA process, and is an even split between agency FOIA officials and non-government FOIA watchdogs. Members include officials from the departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Justice. The committee ended its last term with a report recommending greater access to online FOIA services and embracing new technologies for FOIA processing.
  • Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s chief information officer and G-6, retired after 35 years of service. Crawford has been the Army’s top technology executive since 2017 where he has led the service’s effort to move to the cloud and developed a data strategy. Crawford began his military service in 1986 and served in a number of leadership positions at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, including as a special assistant to the director of the Army Staff, as the 14th Commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and as CIO and J6 of the U.S. European Command. Greg Garcia, the Army’s deputy CIO, will serve as the acting CIO until a new leader is named.
  • The prohibition against using certain Chinese made telecommunications products starts today and DoD is figuring out how to deal with it. The Defense Department will soon ask for a waiver for thousands of green list or low-risk products and services under the newly effective acquisition regulation that bans certain Chinese telecommunications products. A government official told Federal News Network that DoD will make the request to the Office of Director of National Intelligence to approve the waiver for things like office suppliers, food services and similar items. The interim FAR rules goes into effect today requiring vendors to self-certify that they are not using certain Chinese products. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy is looking for creative ways to sustain its ships, submarines and underwater drones and it wants to form a group of companies to do it. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division released a solicitation to form a consortium of businesses to create prototypes that can increase flexibility and agility while reducing costs. Through the consortium, the Navy will award other transactions agreements for rapid acquisition of those technologies. The Navy wants responses to the request by the middle of September.
  • The Defense Department awarded a $106 million task order to design and build the Joint Common Foundation for Artificial Intelligence. The foundation will provide a developmental environment to test, validate and field AI capabilities at scale for the Pentagon. The award is for one year with an option for three, one-year add-on option periods at $31 million. Deloitte Consulting will operate as the lead system integrator to create, maintain, operate and secure the foundation. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is stripping background investigation authorities away from the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The broadcasting agency once had the authority to conduct its own background investigations of its own employees. But the agency mismanaged its personnel security program for years, despite multiple warnings from OPM. Now OPM is revoking USAGM’s investigative and adjudicative authority. OPM has only done that one other time in the last 20 years. (Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Special Counsel and Merit Systems Protection Board are at odds over a key federal employee whistleblower case. A pharmacist at the Department of Veterans Affairs said VA retaliated against her for making protected disclosures and for disclosing information to OSC, filing complaints with the VA’s whistleblower office and testifying in coworkers’ equal employment opportunity proceedings. MSPB dismissed her appeal. The VA pharmacist took her case to the federal appeals court, but OSC said the MSPB made the wrong call. OSC said the law protects federal employees for making whistleblower disclosures and from being retaliated against. OSC said failing to recognize those protections leave federal employees in doubt about their rights.