Biden Administration expands use of procurement to encourage economically friendly purchasing

In today's Federal Newscast: The Biden Administration expands the use of procurement to encourage economically friendly purchasing. American embassies worldwide...

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  • The Biden administration is expanding governmentwide efforts to use federal procurement to drive environmentally friendly purchasing. The White House said five new initiatives will build on existing efforts to catalyze markets and drive innovation across the country. These new programs include the Transportation Department’s agencywide Buy Clean policy and Embodied Carbon Work Group. This effort aims to jumpstart better data and reporting, better procurement and purchasing policies, and better education and research to ensure the use of sustainable materials across its programs. Another initiative will launch pilot programs to advance federal procurement of clean construction materials that have fewer greenhouse gas emissions associated with their manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and disposal.
  • The Army National Guard said it’s facing its biggest end strength challenges in 20 years. Like other parts of the military, the Army Guard is struggling with recruiting, but retention is a problem too. The Guard ended the last fiscal year 10% below its retention goal for the year. Officials said the end strength decline could start creating readiness problems in some Guard units within the next year or two if the problem is not resolved. (Federal News Network)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is investing in charging infrastructure to support the electrification of its vehicle fleet. The VA is working with the General Services Administration to purchase 140 solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations at 34 sites across the U.S. The VA will install the chargers at its medical centers and other facilities in preparation for transitioning its fleet to electric vehicles. GSA is the one-stop-shop for most federal agencies to buy non-tactical vehicles.
  • The State Department has taken the first step to modernize its networks around the world. The State Department’s 260 embassies, consulates and other offices worldwide are in line for a major network upgrade. State awarded a $1.5 billion contract to Verizon under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program. This was State’s third award under EIS, choosing AT&T in August 2021 and MetTel in October 2020 for U.S. based voice and data services. State’s decision leaves fewer than nine task orders that still need to be awarded as of September 30. GSA, which runs the program, said about 88 agencies must complete the transition to EIS from Networx.
  • Agencies now have the option to hire additional staff to help with recovery efforts for Hurricanes Fiona and Ian. The Office of Personnel Management approved a special hiring authority to fill temporary positions for up to one year. Agencies can also extend the positions by additional one-year increments. The hiring authority only applies to employees who would be directly involved with hurricane recovery and relief efforts. (Federal News Network)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has named Mona Harrington as assistant director of the National Risk Management Center. Harrington had been leading the center in an acting capacity since its founding assistant director, Bob Kolasky, stepped down in March. Before joining CISA, Harrington served as executive director and chief information security officer at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
  • Federal employees affected by recent natural disasters are receiving additional work flexibility  from the Office of Personnel Management. Agencies can grant weather-and-safety leave to employees who are unable to travel safely to-and-from work. That includes those directly impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona. OPM also emphasized the importance of telework, to allow federal employees to work away from the office whenever possible. Agencies can also offer advance payments and travel reimbursements to feds required to evacuate areas due to severe weather. (Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service is looking to raise the price of stamps to 63 cents in January. USPS said a 4.2% increase in its first-class mail prices is necessary to keep up with rising inflation. The price increases, if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, would go into effect on January 22, 2023. USPS raised the price of stamps to 60 cents this July. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in August that more rate hikes would be needed for USPS to become self-sustaining in the long term. The price of a first-class stamp was 50 cents before January 2019. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy’s acting Chief Information Security Office said artificial intelligence will play a role in helping the Navy respond faster to cyber attacks. Tony Plater, at a GovCIO event, also said that AI will help his office prioritize what needs to be fixed in the Navy’s network. Plater said that this will help his office respond to incidents faster and protect the Navy’s advantage in the data realm.
  • Department of Homeland Security advisers are teeing up new recommendations for how DHS can improve customer experience. Workforce and data are two big focus areas for the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s new Customer Experience and Service Delivery subcommittee. The group’s work is being led by Lynn Good, the chief executive officer of Duke Energy, and Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines. Their recommendations will suggest how DHS can improve customer-facing processes, collect better customer experience data, and increase information sharing with the private sector. The subcommittee expects to share final recommendations in December.
  • The Small Business Administration is making progress in enforcing contract eligibility. The SBA’s IG office reported that 80% of small business protests were decided within the allowed 15 days, or within an approved extension period. The complaint process allows offerors to submit complaints to SBA by reporting awards made to companies that may be ineligible based on size or certification status. The SBA investigates the protests, and can then enforce their findings. Going forward, the IG’s office recommends the SBA continue to improve documentation and timeliness when deciding on protests.


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