Certain agencies miss getting a clean audit bill of health for differing reasons

In today's Federal Newscast, the departments of Defense and Labor and the Small Business Administration stopped the federal government from fully understanding ...

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  • The departments of Defense and Labor and the Small Business Administration stopped the federal government from fully understanding the state of their finances. The Government Accountability Office says these were the only three CFO Act agencies not to receive a clean audit opinion last year. DoD and SBA earned disclaimers because auditors were unable to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to make an audit opinion. Labor received a qualified opinion because auditors were missing data from specific areas of review that could end up as a material weakness. The 21 CFO Act agencies receiving clean audit opinions is up from six in 1996 when the CFO Act first required agencies to meet this goal.
  • The Census Bureau is looking to build out a survey tracking business trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bureau seeks permission from the Office of Management and Budget to run a Business Trends and Outlook Survey for the next three years. This new survey will increase the scope of the Small Business Pulse Survey it launched at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will include large businesses with more than 500 employees. The bureau says the survey will provide more real-time data about the health of the economy, and will help measure the impact of major emergencies as they occur. The bureau says it’s gotten positive feedback from federal agency officials about the data gathered from its Small Business Pulse Survey.
  • New tools, fewer fund reviews and an evolving retirement landscape await the Thrift Savings Plan in 2022. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board which oversees the TSP, says the fund’s participation rates are at all-time highs but net cash flow has decreased in the last decade. FRTIB says it’s still on track to launch new digital tools to help TSP participants manage their accounts later this year. New TSP fund managers also predict shorter fund target dates will gain popularity as it gets harder to predict when workers will retire. (Federal News Network)
  • One agency whose employees are returning to the office needs to do a better job of communicating and setting guidelines to keep employees safe. As the Department of Housing and Urban Development moved away from mandatory telework to maximum telework in June 2020, it struggled to address some basic rules for reentry. The HUD inspector general found in a new report that of the seven offices it reviewed, the agency couldn’t confirm that the cities its offices were located in met all the prerequisite criteria for returning to the office. The gating criteria included a downward trend in the number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents and how the office met the reentry checklist requirements such as ensuring social distancing and sufficient cleaning. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Virg.) requested the IG audit as part of his governmentwide review of agency reentry plans.
  • The Justice Department’s inspector general says poor planning caused the Bureau of Prisons to violate the Federal Acquisition Regulation with a contract for medical services. The bureau awarded a three-year blanket purchase agreement in 2016 to care for inmates in home confinement and residential reentry programs. It had an initial ceiling value of less than $4-million, but officials used it for almost $52-million in health care services. Then, the bureau issued sole-source awards to extend the same contract for three more years – one year at a time. The IG says it’s still auditing the contract with NaphCare, but the issues are serious enough to warrant management attention now.
  • The Government Accountability Office is expected to make a decision this week on legal challenges to the Defense Department’s $6.2-billion household goods moving contract. Two losing bidders — American Roll-On-Roll-Off Carrier Group and Connected Global Solutions protested the award to Homesafe Alliance in November. GAO’s decision is due on Thursday. DoD plans to use the contract to completely restructure its military moving system. It’s the second time the contract’s been protested. (Federal News Network)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accepting bids for multiple-award contracts covering a range of commercial IT services. The new solicitation comes under the Scalable Ways to Implement Flexible Tasks program. ICE is looking for technologies including platform-as-a-service, hyper-automation, collaborative services, and data visualization. The combined award ceiling is projected to be $340 million. Offers are due March 10.
  • One intelligence agency is building a new buying guide for commercial satellite imagery. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is beta testing a new “commercial supplier matrix.” The new platform will one day be available to intelligence analysts, military units and other government users. NGA’s Dave Gauthier says the matrix will help users figure out what product or service is best for them. “In a sense, it will provide a cheat sheet to anyone who is seeking to purchase some capabilities and is really unsure of who’s out there in the market, and what their real capabilities are.” (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is interested in creating regional hubs of microelectronic innovation. The Pentagon posted a notice in the Federal Register requesting information from businesses, government labs and academia on creating broad access to prototyping hubs and facilitating microelectronics education. Microelectronics are a part of a critical supply chain that DoD is trying to expand.
  • The top Republican in the Senate Armed Services Committee is retiring two years into his latest term. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma says he is retiring from public service. The eighty-seven-year-old was reelected to a fifth term as senator in 2020. Inhofe is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and acted as a conservative voice on the panel. He opposed repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and pushed back on putting women in combat roles. He was also a strong advocate for military spending, often pushing for increased Defense Department budgets.
  • The Commerce Department names a new chief data officer. Oliver Wise, the director of recovery solutions for the software company Tyler Technologies, will serve as the agency’s permanent CDO starting in March. Wise previously worked for the City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability, where he helped launched its first performance management and data analytics office.

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