SBA ordered to release names of all recipients of COVID-19 related loans

In today's Federal Newscast: A multibillion dollar contract has been awarded to build nuclear-missile submarines, an IG report expresses concern with OPM's cybe...

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  • A federal court judge has ordered the Small Business Administration to release information on all recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. That includes the names of loan recipients and loan amounts. The Washington Post and other news organizations filed a lawsuit against SBA after it released only some of the data under a Freedom of Information Act request. A D.C. District Court judge has given the agency until November 19 to release the information. SBA already released data on PPP loans above $150,000, but 4.5 million of the more than 5 million loans through the program were that amount or less.
  • The Navy has awarded a multibillion dollar contract to build its first new class of nuclear-missile submarines since the 1970s. The $9.4 billion dollar award to General Dynamics Electric Boat triggers the start of major construction activities on the new Columbia class of subs. The Navy has said for years that the program is its biggest modernization priority. It is ultimately expected to cost $110 billion once all 12 submarines are built. The Columbia program is expected to send subcontracts to about 5,000 vendors across 48 states. The first boat will take to sea in 2031, if the program stays on track. (Federal News Network)
  • Five years after it suffered a massive breach, OPM’s cybersecurity remains suspect. The Office of Personnel Management is still struggling to manage the identity and access management of its vendors despite this being a main avenue for how hackers stole data of more than 21 million federal employees in 2015. A new inspector general report found OPM does not have sufficient processes in place to manage contractors on its network. Auditors say OPM only recently started to track contractor access from a central database. But the agency does not maintain a complete list of all vendors who have access to its network and cannot audit those accounts.
  • Military police and security forces have a new training course for how to deal with domestic abuse through technology platforms. The Defense Department’s Family Advocacy Program released a new online class to help first responders better understand how domestic abuse and harassment can be done through technology. The course covers how the misuse of technology can lead to the escalation of domestic abuse, and how military law enforcement can follow technological evidence in such cases. The Pentagon says domestic abuse — including through technology — has increased among the general population during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The federal government’s waiting list for security clearance approvals is up slightly because of the pandemic. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency ended the fiscal year with 220,000 background investigations in the inventory. That is up slightly from the start of 2020. But DCSA still considers the inventory as meeting its steady state target. DCSA says investigators are conducting interviews and collecting records virtually during the pandemic. But COVID-19 has posed some setbacks. Some investigations were delayed for safety reasons. Processing times for top secret clearances are up.
  • A Republican congressman wants to give all agencies direct-hire authority when they want it. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced new legislation that would expand direct-hire flexibilities to all agencies if they can prove a severe shortage of candidates. Only certain agencies have direct-hire authority for certain positions today. They usually have to request permission from the Office of Personnel Management to begin using the authority for specific positions. Steube says his legislation would cut red tape out of the federal hiring process.
  • A consolidated campus for the Department of Homeland Security is coming into focus. The National Capital Planning Commission is approving a 600,000 sq. ft. headquarters for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It will be located at the DHS St. Elizabeths West Campus. It is the first building to move forward under an updated master plan for the campus that DHS and the General Services Administration submitted this summer. Because of long-standing budget and schedule challenges, GSA said construction of CISA’s headquarters cannot exceed $350 per square foot. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department’s business transformation efforts have made some progress. But the Government Accountability Office says it is not off the high risk list quite yet. GAO found DoD’s reported savings were reflected in the budget, but not always well documented or consistent. GAO recommended that DoD standardize its documentation and analysis of reform efforts. That would include DoD’s economic assumptions, as well as opportunity costs.

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