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One company is paying the price for deceiving the Pentagon on the price of vehicles. Navistar Defense and Navistar International have agreed to pay the government $50 million for inflating prices of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles from 2007 to 2012. The U.S. alleged that the company knowingly created fraudulent commercial sales invoices and submitted them to justify the prices. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service said the settlement sends an important message to defense contractors who hide costs and profit margins from the government to unjustly enrich themselves.
The Senate confirmed the first-ever female Army secretary. Christine Wormuth garnered a unanimous vote yesterday. She’s the second woman to ascend to the top ranks of the Pentagon’s leadership during the Biden administration, along with Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of Defense. Wormuth has deep experience in DoD and national security issues. Among other past jobs, she served as undersecretary of Defense for policy during part of the Obama administration, and most recently as director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department is making career and education resources more easily available for military spouses. The department launched a new website called MySECO, that will connect spouses to benefits available to them to enhance their professional lives. MySECO offers easy access to scholarships, a search tool for jobs and companies, as well as resume reviews. Spouses can access the site at https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil/portal/
The Department of Veterans Affairs is surveying its employees for their thoughts on returning to the office. At least 30,000 VA employees have responded so far. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said he will use that feedback to inform his decisions on when and how employees return to the office. “I want very much to learn lessons from their experience of this last year and to apply those lessons going forward, to maximize their productivity, their job satisfaction, their opportunities for growth. So that’s how we’ll do that. If that means additional telework options I’m extraordinarily comfortable with that,” McDonough said.
The Office of Personnel Management is moving around senior staff and reorganizing a few of its offices. It is elevating the diversity and inclusion program to its own standalone office that reports to the director. It is also reestablishing the OPM ombudsman. The ombudsman is a neutral and independent party who will accept concerns and feedback from OPM customers. The agency also named a new chief management officer. Current chief financial officer Dennis Coleman will be the new chief management officer. (Federal News Network)
The Department of Veterans Affairs will automatically review disability claims for veterans suffering from three presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. The department will also start the rulemaking process to consider other respiratory illnesses associated with toxic exposure. VA said it is moving in this direction after an initial internal review of scientific evidence. It said the evidence supports starting the rulemaking process for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War or after Sept. 19, 2001.
FEMA is looking for more expertise in data and analytics. For FEMA, responding to disasters is a big data problem. And this problem requires more firepower to understand and drive decisions. To that end, FEMA released a request for information seeking industry feedback for how to increase its staff providing data analysis, statistical modeling and computer programming to build decision support tools. These efforts support FEMA’s deployment requests, assessment of workforce readiness and its ability to set agency force structure. The RFI asks industry to answer seven questions including what are the skill sets of the personnel and what are the project parameters to integrate contractor and federal staff. Responses to the RFI are due June 8.
Public sector employees are ready to return to the rubber chicken circuit. A new survey of public sector employees found a strong majority would attend in-person events this year. GovEvents.com received responses from 275 public sector employees and found that about a quarter would be willing to go to events today, another quarter would be willing to attend in-person events by this summer and another quarter would be willing to show up in person this fall. At the same time though , 61% of the respondents said if the event was offered both in person and virtually, they would attend virtually.
The Defense Department is taking a big step in fielding unattended bots. The Defense Logistics Agency has already fielded nearly 100 unattended bots and the Defense Department’s comptroller office is in the process of standing up unattended automation. The DoD comptroller’s office has a center of excellence that provides a cloud-based RPA infrastructure platform that is available across the department. The comptroller’s office also has a small team of developers to identify new ideas for future automations. (Federal News Network)
Agencies often save money in the long run by purchasing buildings for federal office space, rather than leasing them. But that purchase can be a big ask from Congress. A bill introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) would help Congress and agencies buy property by setting up a $10 billion Federal Capital Revolving Fund. Congress would withdraw funds to help pay for projects that cost over $250 million and agencies would repay the fund over the course of 15 years.