OPM draws wrath of House Oversight and Accountability Committee

In today's Federal Newscast: OPM has drawn the wrath of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency fires bac...

  • The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is firing back in a lawsuit over a software contract. NGA is asking the Court of Federal Claims to dismiss a Silicon Valley company’s lawsuit against the agency. Percipient.AI alleges NGA and prime contractor CACI are ignoring laws that require agencies to procure commercially available products. But in the latest court filings, NGA said Percipient has no standing to challenge the agency over a contract awarded more than two years ago. The agency also said the administration of the contract falls outside the court’s bid protest jurisdiction. Percipient’s response to the government’s motion to dismiss is due February 17.
  • Howard University becomes the first HBCU to lead a University Affiliated Research Center. The Air Force will partner with the university in a five-year program to fund research, faculty and students focused on tactical autonomy technology. That includes artificial intelligence and machine learning projects like unmanned vehicles and multi-domain awareness. The university will get $12 million dollars a year in funding from the Air Force and will team up with eight other HBCUs for the research project. The Air Force expects the program to help diversify its pool of engineers and scientists, who have an expertise in tactical autonomy. (Howard University lands multi-year research contract with Air Force – Federal News Network)
  • Big changes may be coming to the subcommittees of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Leaders of the newly renamed House Oversight and Accountability Committee seem to be putting their mark on the subcommittees by revamping four of the five. A draft breakdown of the subcommittees obtained by Federal News Network shows the biggest change is breaking the old government operations subcommittee into two. One will focus on government operations and the federal workforce, while a new subcommittee will address cybersecurity, IT and government innovation. The full committee still needs to vote on the breakdown and assign subcommittee members. Sources said the final version still could be tweaked. (House oversight of federal workforce, IT, cyber likely to be split between 2 subcommittees – Federal News Network)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is drawing the wrath of the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, after a recent audit report found the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB) is failing to stop improper payments. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote to OPM seeking documents and a briefing by senior staff in the coming weeks. Comer said the committee wants documents and information to understand how OPM allowed the estimated $1 billion in improper payments to happen, and what they are doing to fix the problem. The committee said OPM lacks the necessary verification, monitoring and auditing requirements for the FEHB program.
  • The Small Business Administration takes over a major project from the Veterans Affairs Department. SBA is now certifying the veteran-owned status of small businesses looking to compete for federal contracts. The agency is taking over this work from the VA as required under the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Larry Stubblefield, the deputy associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Government Contracting & Business Development,  said SBA is moving all its certification and loan programs to a single platform called MySBA. Stubblefield said SBA expects to complete the migration to MySBA by spring 2024. “When you think in terms of the customer experience, it is the right thing to do,” Stubblefield said. (SBA takes over work certifying vet-owned small business from VA as part of customer experience overhaul – Federal News Network)
  • The National Security Agency has tapped a prime contractor to help with cybersecurity developments. The NSA’s cybersecurity directorate awarded CACI a potential five-year, $284 million contract for mission expertise and systems engineering support. CACI said it will modernize NSA’s systems-engineering practices as part of the deal. The agency’s cybersecurity directorate was established in 2019 to focus on defending against threats to national security systems and critical infrastructure.
  • Brendan Owens is the new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment. Owens was originally nominated by President Biden in March 2022. The Senate confirmed his appointment on Monday. In his new position, he will manage the Defense Department’s global portfolio of real estate and property. The position was abolished in 2018, then reinstated last February. Since then it has been filled temporarily by Paul Cramer. Owens worked for 19 years on the Green Building Council. He currently runs Black Vest Strategy, a consulting firm he founded.
  • An acting executive at the Department of Veterans Affairs is one step closer to holding the job permanently. President Joe Biden nominated Josh Jacobs to serve as VA’s undersecretary for benefits. Jacobs has served as the acting director of the Veterans Benefits Administration since last summer and has been at VA since February 2021. Jacobs led the VA’s new Evidence-Based Policy Council and a new interagency policy development process. VBA provides disability compensation benefits to nearly six million veterans and their survivors, and administers pension benefits to over 350,000 people.

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