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Five years after the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued guidance on reverse auctions, the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council is finally implementing it. The council issued a proposed rule earlier this week detailing a new subpart that includes a provision, two new clauses, and makes seven amendments to the FAR. Among the things included in the subpart are identifying when reverse auctions shall not be used and providing guidance when only one offer is received in response to a reverse auction. Comments on the proposal are due in early February.
The House easily passed a one-week continuing resolution that will keep the government open through Dec. 18. The bill passed with a 343 to 67 vote. The Senate is expected to take up the CR before the week ends. The measure buys members of Congress more time to negotiate the terms of an omnibus spending package for the rest of 2021. House appropriators said they’re confident Congress will return next week with a catch-all deal. But another short-term continuing resolution is also possible. (Federal News Network)
A bipartisan bill that would make federal court records free to the public gains momentum in the Senate. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Open Courts Act a day after the House passed its version of the bill. The bill would require the federal court system to overhaul its online record system called PACER, and eliminate its paywall. PACER collects $146 million a year in user fees, but Wyden and Portman said that far exceeds the cost of operating the site.
New legislation on green buildings and sustainability could be on the way. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said there’s bipartisan support for proposals to reduce building carbon emissions and incentivize green jobs. They said both can stimulate the economy, but public-private partnerships will be key to making it happen. And they said it’s on the federal government to make weatherization guidelines and building codes more consistent so that more communities can take advantage of sustainability incentives.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is ready for the first COVID-19 vaccine. Thirty-seven VA facilities are equipped to handle the Pfizer vaccine today. But the department is hopeful another 36 facilities will soon have the equipment they need to store it. VA said it ordered 73,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Richard Stone is in charge of the Veterans Health Administration. “It is not an adequate amount. And this will be a long process for us to reach all 7 million veterans who we believe will want vaccination from us, as well as all 400,000 employees at the agency,” he said. (Federal News Network)
COVID-19 vaccine approval is likely to come this week and the Defense Department is preparing a pilot program to test its distribution. As soon as emergency authorization is granted, the military plans to start giving 44,000 people the coronavirus vaccine within 24 to 48 hours. The military will distribute the vaccine to 16 locations around the world. Most of those getting the shot will be healthcare workers, though some nuclear operators, cyber workers and senior leaders may also get the vaccine. The 44,000 people will only get the first dosage of the two-shot vaccine. Only about 8% of DoD healthcare population will be getting the shot during the limited first round. (Federal News Network)
Next year the Air Force’s innovation hub will announce three open topics for small businesses to work on throughout the year. Those topics will be challenges that address areas of importance for the Air Force or Space Force. The first open call will go from mid-January to mid-February. The others will open in May and September and close after 30 days. The open topic periods allow companies to protect their intellectual property while establishing themselves within the government realm.
The Navy is moving back to a centralized approach for its spending on cloud computing. Under a new memo leaders issued this week, all spending on cloud services will be overseen by PEO Digital. The program executive office has set up an internal web portal, called the Naval Digital Marketplace, that the Navy Department will use to provision and monitor all of its cloud consumption. It’s part of a broader cloud policy the department issued this week, and it’s a change from just two years ago, when leaders said they wanted to decentralize their cloud acquisitions.
The Pentagon is offering up yet another winner-take-all IT contract worth billions of dollars. The Defense Information Systems Agency has just released its final solicitation for Defense Enclave Services. DISA plans to use the contract to consolidate the IT networks of Defense organizations outside the military services. The single-award contract is estimated to be worth $11.2 billion over ten years, but DISA wants 25% of that amount to be subcontracted to small businesses.
The Census Bureau is giving agencies the tools they need to launch data sprints on their own. The Census Opportunity Project for the past five years has led 12-week data sprints between agencies and industry. But now Census is giving other agencies a shot at leading this work through an open-source toolkit it’s calling TOPx. The project’s director, Drew Zachary, said the toolkit is inspired by some agencies already launching their own data projects. “The idea with this new TOPx toolkit is that agencies will be able to be more in the driver’s seat and require less facilitation from the Census Bureau team.” (Federal News Network)
Two unions representing employees at the Social Security Administration said they have no confidence in SSA’s top two leaders. The American Federation of Government Employees and the Association of Administrative Law Judges held no confidence votes. 57% of the AFGE bargaining unit representing SSA customer service representatives said they’re not happy with how the agency reinstated telework in the early days of the pandemic. 84% said SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul isn’t setting clear expectations for the return to the office. The Association of Administrative Law Judges conducted a similar survey of its employees.
The new federal chief information officer moved into their office. Basil Parker assumed his new role as the federal CIO on Monday. President Donald Trump signed off on Parker’s appointment on Friday after announcing his selection in mid-November. Parker comes over to the Office of Management and Budget from the Office of Personnel Management where he was chief of staff. He worked at OPM since 2018. Parker replaces Suzette Kent, who left the role in July after more than two years. Parker likely will be in the federal CIO role only until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.