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A former assistant inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development was found guilty of hiding his debts to a personal friend, a contractor to whom he directed tens of millions of dollars in government business. Eddie Saffarinia faces up to 80 years in prison for failing to disclose the $80,000 in loans he received and for sharing confidential information with a federal contractor.
A little less than three years after its inception, the Space Force now has an official song. Officials unveiled their new service anthem yesterday during the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference in National Harbor, Maryland. It’s called Semper Supra, just like the Space Force’s recently-adopted official motto. Songwriter and former Air Force Band member James Teachenor wrote the lyrics and melody. The final version was recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard Band. One of its members, trombonist Sean Nelson, helped with the harmony and orchestration.
Most of the Defense Department’s spending on other transaction agreements gets funneled through third-party consortiums. But DoD is missing some important data on those consortiums, including how many there are, and which technology areas they cover. That’s according to a new study by the Government Accountability Office, which found the department spent more than $24 billion through consortiums between 2019 and 2021. GAO said the missing information makes it hard for procurement officials to make good decisions about how or whether to use OTAs. For example, some consortiums charge fees as high as 21%, while others charge less than 1%. But that information is not widely available.
The Defense Department is offering two online courses with support and guidance for military service members who are affected by suicide. The first 45-minute course focuses on helping those who are directly affected, by discussing communication techniques and the importance of maintaining physical and mental health. DoD recommends the second, longer course for military leaders and supervisors at all levels. The department said military service members who have lost a colleague to suicide should strongly consider enrolling in the courses.
The National Guard is looking at ways to improve recruitment and retention. Among its recommendations, the National Guard is looking at providing health care coverage to new recruits. This would also benefit the roughly 60,000 guardsmen who are currently uninsured. The Army National Guard is currently about 6,000 personnel short of its authorized end strength levels. The National Guard is also looking to provide bonuses to guardsmen who successfully recruit someone to join, as long as that recruit meets the minimum qualifications.
The American Federation of Government Employees sent House and Senate Armed Services committee leaders its wish list of changes or provisions it would like to see in the 2023 defense authorization bill. AFGE, which represents about 300,000 DoD employees, outlined five additional areas beyond its initial letter sent in August. One provision AFGE wants lawmakers to support would limit the realignment or workforce reduction at military medical facilities. AFGE also wants lawmakers to weigh in on what it calls DoD’s lack of compliance with Title 10 Total Force Management requirements. AFGE said DoD’s continued use of personnel caps and conversions of functions from civilian to military is concerning.
Major changes are afoot for SBA’s 8(a) program. The Small Business Administration is proposing some of the biggest updates to the 8(a) business development program in years. A new proposed rule tries to clear up confusion that has emerged over the last several years around joint ventures, size recertification requirements, who can initiate a protest of size determination and several other areas. Additionally, the proposed rule emphasizes the ability of contracting officers to penalize prime contractors for not meeting their subcontracting goals. The penalties would include not giving a satisfactory/positive past performance evaluation. Comments on the proposed rule are due by November 8.
A CIA leader is predicting that the agency can significantly decrease its hiring time by this December. The CIA is trying to diversify applicant pools, while also speeding up the security clearance process. Juliane Gallina, associate deputy director of the CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation, shared a few strategies. “Having different channels for applications that didn’t exist before, proactively look for the right candidates and encourage people to apply, creating relationships with academic institutions,” Gallina said. The CIA plans to decrease the time it takes from submitting an application to receiving a security clearance from 600 days down to 180. (Federal News Network)
A bill to repeal the “evil twins” that reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for some retired federal employees and their spouses is headed for a House floor vote. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Social Security Fairness Act, which would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. Those two provisions of the 1935 Social Security Act reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefits of more than two million retirees. The bill currently has 299 cosponsors in the House. While many similar bills have been introduced, this is the first time one has been advanced out of committee.
A bill that just advanced through the House Oversight and Reform Committee would make agencies rethink their responses to potential future pandemics. The legislation would require agencies, among other things, to develop guidelines on testing, cleaning and occupancy limits. All Inspector General offices would also have to report to Congress about plan implementation, and the Government Accountability Office would have to report lessons learned from COVID-19 to improve future response plans.