Bill tasking agencies with publishing budget requests passes House

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  • A bill making agencies’ annual budget requests more accessible passed the House. The Congressional Budget Justification Act requires agencies to post budget request documents to a single website each year. The bill tasks the Office of Management and Budget with keeping the site updated with links to the documents, and the dates agencies submitted them. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill last year, and now heads to the Senate for a floor vote.
  • The inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security isn’t taking immediate action after the Government Accountability Office weighed in on the acting appointments of top DHS leadership. GAO said Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli were appointed to their positions as acting secretary and acting deputy secretary through an invalid order of succession. It referred the topic to the DHS IG. But the IG disagreed with GAO. It said the federal courts are best suited to weigh in on the legality of Wolf and Cuccinelli’s appointments. The IG concluded it’s “pointless” to add its voice to what it described as a bitter inter-branch disagreement.
  • Michael Rigas may just lose that acting title that he received last March. President Donald Trump plans to nominate Rigas to be the permanent deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget. Currently Rigas is acting DDM and acting OPM director. Should the Senate confirm Rigas, he would replace Margaret Weichert, who left in February for a private sector job.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced six key nominations for top defense positions. They include John Whitley to be the director of Cost, Analysis and Program Evaluation and Shon Monasco as the undersecretary of the Air Force. Other nominations making it through include Michele Pearce as the general counsel of the Army and Bradley Hansell as the deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and security. The Defense Department as a whole has worked with an unprecedented amount of vacancies during the Trump administration.
  • For the second time this year, the Defense Department’s inspector general said DoD needs a better response to cases of military children sexually assaulting each other. The IG said leaders have downplayed incidents, not cooperated with civilian law enforcement, and until recently, failed to provide support services to victims. Between 2015 and 2017, the IG identified 600 misconduct cases that it deemed serious incidents, and found campus administrators failed to submit reports on 522 of them to headquarters. (Federal News Network)
  • It’s going to be some time before the public knows why the Pentagon decided not to take corrective action on its multi-billion dollar JEDI Cloud contract. The Defense Department was required to explain the results of its JEDI reconsideration process to a federal judge, but on Tuesday, government attorneys filed those documents under seal. Lawyers say that’s because the filings contain sensitive information. DoD ended the reconsideration process by re-awarding the JEDI contract to Microsoft — without making any changes — but hasn’t given a public explanation as to why. Amazon has vowed to continue fighting the award in court.
  • The military’s newest branch will have some serious problems in the case of a long-term continuing resolution. The Space Force had a budget of $40 million last year. This coming year it’s supposed to get more than $15 billion. That may not happen at the appropriate time without Congress passing a budget by the end of the month. Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond said a continuing resolution will affect how the Space Force can take care of the satellites it’s already launched into orbit. Raymond said a CR could also affect how the Space Force handles the GPS III program, which is currently in the works.
  • An extension of statutory deadlines for the 2020 Census gained bipartisan support in the Senate. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), and Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) introduced a bill that would require the Census Bureau to continue field operations through the end of October. The 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act would also give the Census a four-month extension to submit apportionment and redistricting data. The House passed a similar provision in one of its pandemic spending bills, but the Senate hasn’t taken action on it.
  • Finally, 360-degree acquisition reviews may be getting off the ground. Two years after issuing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council released its proposed rule giving agencies direction to create a new feedback mechanism. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy first proposed the concept of 360 degree reviews in a 2015 memo as a way to help agencies make internal improvements on the planning and awarding of contracts. The proposed rule says feedback will be anonymous and the process should be flexible enough to target specific types of requirements or aspects of the acquisition process. Comments on the proposed rule are due by Nov. 16.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has plans to hand out more iPads to veterans to continue its telehealth program. VA signed an exclusive deal with Apple to standardize its Connected Tablet program. The program allows veterans to connect to their VA health providers virtually. VA said the new partnership will let the department tap into Apple’s expertise and enhance the Connected Care platform. VA has distributed some 50,000 tablets to veterans since 2016.
  • A former VA employee pled guilty to embezzling nearly 70,000 dollars in agency funds by using a fake mobile payment company. The Justice Department said Michael Donaher admitted to purchasing various equipment for the VA facility in Brockton, Massachusetts. However, the items were not real and he had used a fake company Donaher created through a mobile payment company.
  • The Commerce Department moved to boost the diversity of entrepreneurs, especially young people. Secretary Wilbur Ross will chair a new group called the National Council for Expanding American Innovation. It will guide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in developing what Ross calls a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem of people participating in patents. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu will be vice chair. The council will also include people from industry and academia. A congressionally mandated study that found the little data available shows women, minorities and veterans tend to be under-represented in the patent system.