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The Pentagon is determining what it should do with billions intended for the Afghan armed forces. Congress appropriated over $3 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund in fiscal year 2021. But with the rapid collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said any remaining funds are on hold. The Defense Department is now working closely with Congress to determine what to do with the money. Lawmakers will also have to consider what to do with $3.3 billion DoD had requested for the fund in fiscal year 2022.
DoD is relying on a new tool to continue to dig out of its mound of technical debt. The Defense Department is revamping its approach to IT portfolio management. Danielle Metz, the deputy chief information officer for information enterprise, said the new framework will integrate with DoD business processes to enforce recommendations for optimization and modernization. “Our goal is to implement an analytical framework to ensure our funding decisions are properly aligned to strategic funding initiatives.” Metz said the success of closing data centers and moving to the cloud is driving this new approach to IT portfolio management. (Federal News Network)
Those annual budget justifications should get a little clearer thanks to a new bill the House passed yesterday. The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act requires that agencies publish easily understandable versions of their annual budget justification to a single government website. Agencies will also have to post a plain language version to their own sites. The bill cleared the Senate back in June and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. It had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
After COVID-19 shut down businesses across the country last year, new legislation would give defense contractors a back stop in the event of a new crisis. A bill introduced in the House this week would allow the Defense Department to keep paying contractors when a disaster prevents them from accessing work sites. The proposal from Reps. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) is similar to a provision in the 2020 CARES Act. It let agencies reimburse contractors providing paid leave to employees who couldn’t go to work because of pandemic restrictions. But that authority expired earlier this year. The lawmakers said making it permanent will help contractors keep their workforces intact during the next crisis.
The Department of Homeland Security is telling contractors they must be vaccinated or have a negative test within the last three days to work onsite. A new notice by DHS Chief Procurement Officer Paul Courtney, tells contract employees who are entering DHS facilities controlled by the Federal Protective Service they must confirm that they conform to the COVID-19 testing and vaccination policy. DHS said the guard may request to view a copy of the employee’s written attestation on the approved OMB form.
Federal employee groups are counting their wins and losses in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. A group representing managers at the IRS has its concerns about the Senate-passed bill. The legislation cancels some COVID relief programs for taxpayers and small businesses by the end of September. And IRS managers are worried about implementing a mid-year tax change, on top of the upcoming filing season. The House advanced the infrastructure bill yesterday and is planning a final vote before the end of September. (Federal News Network)
Federal appeals court judges are letting the Postal Service proceed with plans to raise prices next week. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a request from mailers to block USPS from raising rates on first-class mail and periodicals until their ongoing lawsuit is settled. Starting Sunday, the price of a first-class stamp will increase from 55 to 58 cents. These new prices would effectively max out new rate-setting authority approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The court will hear oral arguments Sept. 13. (Federal News Network)
Facial recognition technology is becoming commonplace at most large agencies. The Government Accountability Office found 18 of 24 CFO Act agencies were using facial recognition technology for digital access or cybersecurity purposes, law enforcement or for physical security. The General Services Administration and Social Security Administration told GAO they were running pilots that would allow employees to access government websites like Login.gov via facial recognition technology. GAO found 14 agencies authorized employees to unlock their agency-issued smartphones using facial recognition technology. (Federal News Network)