IG says ‘inconsistent’ Pentagon policy on active shooters could make things worse

Also in today's Federal Newscast, the Navy and the state of Hawaii join forces to clean-up the military's mess in Paradise.

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  • The Pentagon’s inspector general said DoD does not have a consistent policy for dealing with active shooter incidents, and the fact that it doesn’t could mean more casualties if there’s another mass shooting on a military installation. A new report found without consistent training and response policies, DoD law enforcement agencies and military personnel could wind up taking very different approaches to an active shooter situation. The IG warns the next response could be “delayed and uncoordinated.”
  • The Navy is teaming up with the state of Hawaii to fix environmental issues caused by the military. People living in-and-around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam have had to deal with serious environmental issues in the past. Most recently, jet fuel leaked into the water supply. Now the Navy and the state of Hawaii are investing nearly $15 million to protect the watershed, restore native forests and replenish the aquifer. The long-term project singles out more than 7,000 acres of forested lands for protection. Those areas are critical to the drinking water supply and act as a hedge against erosion and flooding.
  • The General Services Administration is having difficulties managing $3.4 billion in infrastructure spending. GSA’s Public Building Service is struggling to deal with its allocated funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to a new report from the agency’s Inspector General. The main challenges include maintaining accurate documentation, along with managing project delays and cost overruns. In response to the report, the Public Building Service commissioner is developing a program mitigation plan, to try to proactively deal with some of the major risks.
  • Two senators want the Justice Department to be more aggressive in going after contractors. The Justice Department’s cautious use of suspension and debarment authorities against federal contractors is rankling two lawmakers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Conn.) and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) wrote to DoJ leaders urging them to more aggressively use its broad authority to suspend or debar any vendor that has committed a crime. They say DoJ’s reluctance to use suspension and debarment tools has undermined the goals of debarment regulations and has allowed dishonest contractors to continue “ripping off the government.” The senators outline four ways DoJ can expand the use suspension and debarment tools.
  • Two highly sought after acquisitions are pushing back their due dates. The General Services Administration is giving small businesses 14 extra business days to submit proposals for the Polaris small business and women-owned business pools. The due date for bids is now Sept. 9. GSA said the extra time is needed because of problems with the SAM.gov platform. The Department of Homeland Security also pushed back the due date for bids for its FirstSource 3 acquisition. Phase 2 proposals are now due Sept. 7, giving small firms who made the cut an extra nine business days to submit bids.
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are calling on NASA to extend its Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, a laser that scans and collects data on the Earth’s forests and topography from the International Space Station. The program, led by the University of Maryland, in collaboration with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is scheduled to be de-orbited in 2023.
  • One of the Postal Service’s biggest unions is calling for increased hiring to address understaffing. The National Association of Letter Carriers said staffing shortages have led to routes across the country going undelivered. NALC National President Fredric Rolando told Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that understaffing has led to USPS routinely violating work-hour limits in its labor agreement. “The Postal Service cannot succeed, Louis, unless it solves its chronic staffing problems first,” Rolando said. DeJoy recently said USPS might reduce its headcount by 50,000 employees over the next decade through attrition. (Federal News Network)
  • Congress continues to probe how agencies are responding to a major cyber vulnerability that emerged late last year. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders are asking five agencies for more information about how they are dealing with the Log4j software vulnerability. The critical bug emerged last December and is estimated to affect hundreds of millions of devices. On Wednesday, the House lawmakers sent letters to the departments of Commerce, Energy, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. They requested briefings on how those agencies are identifying and mitigating the risk of the Log4j vulnerability.
  • Maj. Gen. John Olson is now the Air Force’s first-ever chief data and artificial intelligence officer. Olsen’s position follows a trend of expanding tech-focused leadership roles within the military. He previously served as the mobilization assistant to the chief of space operations and also served as the assistant director for space and aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • The State Department said 10 people in eight states are guilty of violating or conspiring -to-violate the Arms Export Control Act. They’ve been “debarred,” meaning those individuals cannot get a license from the State Department to export defense articles or defense services. And they cannot participate in activities regulated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, including brokering or exporting defense articles, technical data or defense services from the U.S.  The announcement came from State’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
  • U.S. Central Command is kicking off its first-ever Innovation Oasis. The competition follows the Shark Tank model and allows service members to pitch ideas that could be beneficial to the command in the long run. CENTCOM will select finalists at the end of September.
  • The National Science Foundation and others, are seeking feedback on an update to their Federal Big Data Research and Development Strategic Plan. The strategy outlines the federal government’s big data research priorities across multiple agencies. Representatives from academia, government, businesses and industry groups have until Aug. 17 to submit their comments.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is taking steps to illuminate data privacy challenges facing U.S. consumers. The FTC issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking seeking input on data practices that harm consumers and competition. The commission will also host a public forum on September 8. The FTC is considering whether to issue new trade regulations aimed at protecting privacy in the digital era. The commission said it wants to build a comprehensive public record to sharpen its future enforcement work and help inform Congress and other policymakers.

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