Democratic lawmakers want answers from GSA administrator on Biden transition

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  • Four Democratic House lawmakers and 41 Democratic senators are demanding Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, brief them by November 23 on her rationale for not ascertaining the election results. House Oversight and Reform Committee leaders say her delay in providing transition funding is having grave effects on the nation, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming administration’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and endangering national security. At the same time, the 41 Democratic senators say the transition is a bedrock principle of the nation’s democracy and one of GSA’s most important duties.
  • The Office of Management and Budget says federal agencies have a little over a month to submit detailed reports on their contractors’ hiring practices. A memo OMB issued Thursday gives more guidance on the sorts of data the administration is looking for. It’s in response to an executive order President Trump signed in August, looking to reduce temporary foreign labor and “offshoring” by federal contractors. Agencies will need to deliver detailed reports on how their contractors are using migrant employees — and whether they’ve tried to hire U.S. workers instead — by the end of December.
  • The government’s main security clearance provider is growing bigger. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency recently acquired the legacy security clearance IT system from the Office of Personnel Management. It also absorbed the program office in charge of designing and building the new IT system known as the National Background Investigations Service. DCSA says it recently revised the schedule and requirements for NBIS. They now factor in the administration’s personnel vetting goals and acknowledge a new timeline for the project. (Federal News Network)
  • 2.3 million security clearance holders are enrolled in the Pentagon’s continuous evaluation program. The Defense Department is gradually adding more people to its automatic records and suitability checks. It wants to enroll all security clearance holders by the end of the year. Continuous evaluation is a key part of the Trump administration’s efforts to modernize the security clearance process. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says agencies will soon get a new doctrine that will detail some of these anticipated vetting changes. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force has whittled down its choice for the headquarters of U.S. Space Command to six locations. The service announced that Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, Port San Antonio in Texas and Redstone Army Airfield in Alabama are the finalists. The service will select one of the bases in early 2021. Currently Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado is acting as the temporary headquarters for SPACECOM.
  • As the country continues to reel from coronavirus, the military is seeing record numbers of new cases. In two days, nearly two thousand service members were infected with COVID-19. That leaves 25,000 active duty, Guard and reservists actively suffering from the deadly disease. To date, almost 70,000 service members have contracted the disease since the start of the pandemic. Adding military dependents and Defense Department civilians, the number of Pentagon-related cases now balloons to more than 100,000. Despite the high numbers, about 60 percent of military bases have eased travel restrictions. Training also continues to mostly go on as planned, even with international partners. (Federal News Network)
  • Small veteran-owned firms in the 8(a) program can get acquisition policy updates from DoD, Veterans Affairs, GSA and the Labor and Treasury departments next week. Agency representatives will highlight changes to GSA’s website and other news for veteran-owned businesses at two virtual public meetings hosted by the Small Business Administration. The meetings are on Wednesday, Dec. 2 and Thursday, Dec. 3. SBA recommends submitting public comments by email or phone before Monday, Nov. 30.
  • The Justice Department’s $4.5 billion IT services contract is no closer to getting off the ground. The Government Accountability Office sustained three protests of the ITSS 5 vehicle, finding DoJ failed to conduct a proper best-value trade off. GAO agreed with Northrop Grumman, Perspecta and QBase’s claims that Justice relied exclusively on ratings which excluded technically acceptable proposals without any consideration of the price and did not meaningfully consider price as an evaluation factor. Justice first released the ITSS-5 solicitation in 2017 and made awards in 2019 only to have to pull them back in face of multiple protests.
  • The Office of Management and Budget sets another new deadline for agencies to move to the next generation network protocol.  OMB hopes the third time is the charm to get agencies to move to internet protocol version 6 or IPv6. OMB released the final version of its third memo since 2005 with new deadlines for agencies to develop plans, run pilots and make networks IPv6 operational over the next four years. NIST, DHS, GSA and the CIO Council also have additional responsibilities to help agencies meet these deadlines. OMB released the draft of the memo in March and accepted agency and industry comments.
  • We all have parts of our jobs we wish we could automate away — and that’s what the Veterans Affairs Department had in mind when it deployed artificial intelligence tools. VA is using AI to cut down its backlog of benefits claims. VA’s deputy CTO for Benefits, Zach Goldfine, said successful AI deployments depend on listening to staff concerns and building a multidisciplinary team. The same can be found on the contracting side of federal AI, said the head of AI ethics policy for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center at DoD. (Federal News Network)

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