With the weakening dollar, the Pentagon may need to refill the coffers sooner than expected

In today's Federal Newscast, the Defense Department says it may need more money in 2023 to offset inflation.

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  • Agencies are getting some help to meet the Biden administration’s goal of transitioning the entire federal automobile fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2035. A new blanket purchase agreement from the General Services Administration gives agencies access to more than 1,100 electric vehicle supply equipment and services from 16 vendors. These include fast charging stations, operation, repair and maintenance plans and power management and metering. GSA’s Public Buildings Service also will award a supporting contract for general construction services in the near future where contractors can purchase equipment off the blanket purchase agreement.
  • New details emerge about GSA’s plan to extend the services under the telecommunications program called Networx. Agencies have to decide by September 30 whether or not they will keep using their existing telecommunications services under the Networx contract for up to the next 18 months. The General Services Administration is telling agencies that their secretary or agency head must sign a memorandum of understanding by the end of the fiscal year to keep current services running to no later than May 2024. GSA decided in February to invoke the continuity of services clause after agencies were struggling to move to the new Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle. GSA said as of February 28, only 89% of the planned task orders for transition to EIS have been awarded. Also, 45% of the nine million services governmentwide are still in use under Networx.
  • The General Services Administration, Small Business Administration and NASA are among the highest ranking agencies for employee satisfaction and work-life balance. That comes from the latest round of governmentwide pulse surveys. GSA also scored well for agency leaders’ communication on return-to-office plans. Those who fared worst include the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security. Federal pulse surveys are a pilot project to get a more real-time snapshot of employees’ satisfaction. You can find all the results at Performance.gov.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs hired 59,000 employees this fiscal year, but still struggles with workforce shortages. Despite this hiring surge, the VA continues to face a workforce shortage driven by a high rate of turnover. The agency is calling on Congress to make permanent some of hiring flexibilities authorized in COVID spending bills. Jessica Bonjorni, the chief of human capital management at the Veterans Health Administration, said the average time to hire across VA is about 95 days. She said permanent hiring flexibilities would improve the time to hire. “Earlier in the pandemic, all of our hires were COVID-related hires. Now we can only use it for a small subsection of our hires.”
  • President Joe Biden picks some familiar faces to serve on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Retired Navy Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr. was tapped to serve as chairman of the advisory board. Biden also selected former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, In-Q-Tel co-founder Gilman Louie, and Richard Verma, the former U.S. ambassador to India. The intelligence advisory board provides the president with independent advice on the matters related to the intelligence community.
  • Congressional auditors say the Department of Homeland Security needs to improve oversight of noncompetitive contract awards. DHS spending on urgent, noncompetitive contracts increased from $75 million in 2016 to $1.3 billion in 2020. That was mainly due to COVID-19 and natural disasters. But the Government Accountability Office said DHS contracting officers did not always document their decisions before deciding to forego competition. GAO recommends DHS start enforcing the correct procedures for awarding noncompetitive contracts.
  • Senate lawmakers are taking steps to improve government efficiency. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has introduced bipartisan legislation that would add more congressional requirements for the Government Accountability Office. Peters said the “Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act” will streamline how GAO reports to Congress. Under the bill, GAO is required to make a consolidated list of all open recommendations in its annual report to Congress. The bill also requires GAO to publish any known costs of open recommendations and help agencies identify actions to implement them.
  • Hackers found more than 400 vulnerabilities in networks of companies important to the Defense Department. The DoD Cyber Crime Center finished up its year-long pilot program looking at weaknesses in defense industrial base companies’ cybersecurity. The pilot encompassed 41 companies in total. DoD employed HackerOne to look for the vulnerabilities and try to bolster cybersecurity. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department said it may need more money in 2023 to offset inflation. The Pentagon said it is watching inflation closely and may need to work with Congress and the Office of Management and Budget on its final topline numbers for 2023. The Defense Department is requesting $773 billion for next year. However, it assumed an inflation rate of about 2%. In a letter to Congress, DoD said it will work closely with lawmakers and budget experts to hone in on what the military needs as inflation rates are higher than the department guessed. That may mean bumps from Congress in the final appropriations bills or supplemental funding.
  • President Joe Biden is directing agencies how to prepare for the era of quantum computing. A national security memorandum outlines steps agencies must take to protect their networks from advances in quantum computing. Research shows quantum computers within the next decade will become capable of breaking much of the encryption in use today. The memo also directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create a Migration to Post-Quantum Cryptography Project.

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