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House Democrats are again pushing a Department of Homeland Security reform bill that would centralize oversight of the agency’s multi-billion dollar acquisition portfolio. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and several others reintroduced the DHS Reform Act last week after it failed to advance during the 2020 session. The bill would designate the under secretary for management as DHS’s chief acquisition officer. The legislation would also put restrictions on officials who can serve in leadership positions in an ‘acting’ capacity.
House lawmakers tell the Postal Service to postpone a mail rate hike until next year. Two members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), are leading 11 other Republicans and eight other Democrats in calling on USPS to delay the price increase until January 2022. USPS planned to raise rates on most of its mail products by nearly 7% in August, and would raise the price of a first-class postage stamp to 58 cents. Lawmakers said raising rates during an economic recovery would hurt mailers and USPS’s long term financial health. (Federal News Network)
The Thrift Savings Plan finished transferring a small portion of its assets to a second fund manager. BlackRock still manages the vast majority of TSP assets. But State Street Global Advisors now manages 10% of the C fund and 20% each of the S and F funds. The TSP said the goal was to disperse asset management responsibilities across multiple vendors and diversify organizational risk within the plan.
The Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs launch a joint effort to find deported veterans. The two departments said they’ll work together to identify deported veterans and give them the VA benefits they’re entitled to. DHS subcomponents will review cases to make sure non-citizen veterans and their families can remain in or return to the United States. The two departments will also create a resource center for former service members and will eliminate barriers to naturalization for these veterans.
President Biden nominated Rachel Jacobson as the Army’s lead for overseeing the IT’s infrastructure and climate impact. If confirmed, Jacobson will take over the position of Army assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment from Jack Surash, who is currently performing the duties of the role. Jacobson served five years in the Obama administration as the principal deputy solicitor for the Interior Department and acting assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
It seems like almost everything is connected to the internet these days, but are tee-shirts and pants next? A future facing command within the Army is working to embed microchips into clothing. The goal is to use those chips to monitor everything from sound to explosions to heartbeats. The fabric is even being tested by astronauts on the space station to detect micrometeorites. The small chips are powered by soldiers’ movements, and can hold about half a megabyte of information. The Army said it hopes to have the technology on the battlefield by 2050, and that the fibers could have civilian implications as well. (Federal News Network)
The Defense Department is doing less milCloud 2.0 migrations than expected, but that may not be a problem for DoD. While the JEDI cloud contract is caught up in court, the Pentagon still has milCloud 2.0 in place. But only about 25% of fourth estate cloud migrations have gone to that program. The reason? DoD Chief Information Officer John Sherman told a House committee that agencies are also using other cloud-based capabilities. DoD has now converged on about a dozen fit-for-purpose clouds, with milCloud 2.0 being just one of those. And Sherman said DoD is committed to a multi-vendor, multi-cloud ecosystem.
The Education Department’s initiative to modernize its telecommunications, networking and IT infrastructure receives the go-ahead to proceed. The Government Accountability Office denied a protest by Lumen Technologies of Education’s award of a task order to AT&T under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program. Lumen submitted a complaint to GAO saying Education’s decision to hire AT&T was flawed specifically around the agency’s price evaluation and how it conducted discussions of the requirements. Education’s deal with AT&T is worth more than $105 million over 12 years.
NASA awards its massive IT services contract to modernize key services. Under its Advanced Enterprise Global Information Technology Solutions (AEGIS) program, NASA aims to create a seamless communications infrastructure. It will be for both wide-area and center local-area networks. It will support cybersecurity, collaboration tools, emergency and early warning systems, telecommunications, cabling, and radio systems. To make this happen, NASA hired Leidos under a $2.5 billion 10-year contract. AEGIS is the follow-on contract to the NASA Integrated Communications Services (NICS) contract awarded to SAIC in 2011.
The IRS is calling on vendors as part of its mission to digitalize documents and wean itself off paper. The agency’s Enterprise Digitalization and Case Management Office is seeking Scanning as a Service services to digitize paper files that in cases are hundreds of pages long. The IRS is accepting proposals until July 28, and will hold a virtual listening session for industry on July 13. The agency is carrying out this work through its Pilot IRS program, which awards incremental funding for experimental technology projects. The IRS expects to award about $1 million this fiscal year in phase one of this contract opportunity.
The National Institutes of Health wants to see what the power of computational analysis, artificial intelligence and data mining can tell researchers about pregnancy data. NIH launched a new competition where it’s putting up $400,000 for experts to analyze pregnancy data and identify risk factors. Under the Decoding Morbidity Data Challenge, NIH will award a total of $50,000 to each of the seven winners. An additional $10,000 will go to the top five winners whose methods detect risk factors in disadvantaged populations.