GSA tries to whip inflation now for contractors

In today's Federal Newscast: GSA attempts some creative inflation-slashing tricks for contractors. Internet crime was a growth industry in 2021. And the number ...

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  • The Defense Department is refilling positions for its top advisory board on women in the military. The Biden administration cleaned house for a review of all its Pentagon advisory committees a year ago. Now the administration is re-staffing the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. Shelley O’Neil Stoneman will serve as the new chair of the committee. She brings two decades of experience in the executive and legislative branches. Other newly appointed members include former Vice Adm. Robin Braun and retired Command Master Chief Octavia Harris.
  • The Defense Department officially established a Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee to review mental health issues and sexual assault in the military. The committee is based off the 2021 sexual assault committee’s in-depth examination into military culture. The new panel was mandated by Congress in the 2022 defense authorization act.
  • DoD’s first-ever chief software officer is moving back to private industry. Jason Weiss tells Federal News Network he has accepted a new job with a private cybersecurity firm. He has been serving in the newly-created DoD post since January 2021, and plans to stay until April 15. Weiss says he is proud of the groundwork he laid, but says Congress should strongly consider making the chief software officer a Senate-confirmed position to give the department leader more authority to initiate comprehensive change.
  • GSA is trying to help contractors take a bite out of inflation. The General Services Administration made changes in four areas to help companies on their schedule contract address rising prices. A new memo from GSA temporarily suspends certain requirements of the Economic Price Adjustment clause. One change lets vendors increase prices more than three times over a 12-month period. Another puts on hold the requirement for 30 days to pass before companies can raise their prices a second time. And a third change pushes down the decision authority at GSA for price adjustments. These changes remain in effect through Sept. 30, 2022.
  • As some agencies start to reenter the office, there are new concerns about return-to-office plans for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Currently, there are no open offices for the EEOC and no publicly available plans for getting employees back in person. Two ranking members from the House Education & Labor and Oversight & Reform committees expressed their concerns in a letter to Commissioner Charlotte Burrows. The authors asked for information from the EEOC on return-to-office timetables and the impact of closed workspaces.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is bringing employees back to the office, but envisions a hybrid workplace for staff.  The VA says it brought non-bargaining unit employees back to the office last week and expects bargaining unit employees to return to the office by May. A return to the office only impacts a portion of the total VA workforce. Nearly 80% of staff have been front-line workers since the start of the pandemic. Deputy VA Secretary Donald Remy said the agency is pivoting to a hybrid workplace that will keep telework in place for eligible employees. “The hybrid work environment will allow for people to use telework arrangements so that they only have to come into the office a set number of days during the week,” Remy said.
  • The number of federal contractors is shrinking. New analysis from Bloomberg Government found the number of unclassified prime contracts, over the last decade, fell by nearly 33% to 97,000 from a high of 142,000. BGov said the Defense Department in 2021, had about 44,000 contractors, the smallest number than at any time over 10 years. The civilian contractor base dropped by 31% since 2011, down to 67,000 vendors.
  • The National Park Service, Social Security Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among the highest ranking agencies that Americans trust. A national survey from the Partnership for Public Service finds that at least 60% of respondents gave positive feedback for those individual agencies, while only four in 10 Americans said they trust the federal government overall. The IRS is the only agency with a majority unfavorable opinion at 51% negative responses. The survey is an initial part of the Partnership’s research on improving trust in government.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has set up a new portal for reporting cyber incidents. CISA is asking companies to disclose cyber incidents to a new portal set up recently amid concerns about Russian cyber attacks. It also comes after Congress passed new incident reporting requirements for critical infrastructure companies. But the requirements don’t come into effect until CISA goes through a rulemaking process. So for now, CISA is asking companies to report on a voluntary basis. (Federal News Network)
  • The FBI reports that business email compromise scams were the most costly cyber crimes in 2021. The bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said it received nearly 850,000 complaints of suspected internet crime last year, a 7% increase from 2020, for reported losses of nearly $7 billion dollars. Business email compromise amounted to $2.4 billion dollars in losses alone in 2021, with investment fraud, personal data breaches and romance scams also topping the list.
  • The Postal Service emails digital scans of incoming mail to millions of households every day. Now the agency is moving the infrastructure that supports its Informed Delivery service to the cloud. USPS said it’s moving to a cloud-based platform that will store, send and host emails for its Informed Delivery service. USPS said the move to the cloud will allow it to replace its current on-premises infrastructure for the program. USPS said the migration of this data will not have any impact on individual privacy rights.

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