Soldier sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for $3 million PPP loan fraud

In today's Federal Newscast: A soldier has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for $3 million in PPP loan fraud. New recommendations are out on how to collect...

  • A federal judge has sentenced an Army soldier to three-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program. Prosecutors said Chief Warrant Officer Dara Buck led a fraud scheme that applied for 150 PPP loans, and wound up getting more than $3 million in payouts from the Small Business Administration. In addition to the prison sentence, Buck was ordered to repay the loans. The Justice Department said Buck also orchestrated another million dollars of fraudulent loan forgiveness packages through the departments and Education and Veterans Affairs.
  • The Army is kicking off a new approach to managing intellectual property. The Army’s acquisition office will launch a new group later this year as a way to bring some standardization to how it works with vendors to manage intellectual property rights. The Army plans to hire as many as 10 people with IP experience as well as possibly bring in vendor support to drive implementation of a 2018 Pentagon policy. The IP cell, as the Army calls it, will work across all mission areas to help educate and provide hands on assistance to contracting officers as they write solicitations. The Army hopes this IP cell will reach initial operating capability this fiscal year and full operating capability in 2024.
  • Military spouses can now get a 12-week paid fellowship to help with job placement. The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot program places active duty and reserve members’ spouses with civilian employers in various industries and locations. The program is part of a Defense Department initiative to help spouses find employment while moving to new duty stations. The pilot will run for three years, with applications accepted throughout the time frame. The first group of fellows will be placed with their host companies starting this month.
  • The Merit Systems Protection Board is making headway against a record-high case backlog. The MSPB has gotten through 800 federal employee appeals of cases of prohibited personnel practices. At its height last March, the backlog of these cases was around 3,500. The three-person MSPB panel has been chipping away at the backlog since establishing a quorum last year. The MSPB plans to adjudicate at least 1,000 cases during fiscal year 2023. At that rate, it will still take two to three years to entirely clear the backlog, especially as new cases continue to come in.
  • A Silicon Valley firm is once again taking the Defense Department to court. Nearly seven years after Palantir famously sued the Army for ignoring its commercial software, Percipient.AI is suing the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency over similar allegations. Percipient alleges NGA failed to adequately consider its computer vision software as part of the SAFFIRE contract. Instead, Percipient said, NGA is violating the law by letting prime contractor CACI develop its own software. Government lawyers are expected to respond to the allegations by January 20. (Silicon Valley firm sues spy agency over software contract – Federal News Network)
  • The Postal Service’s shakeup in operations is not putting rural delivery at risk, according to a recent watchdog report. The Government Accountability Office found few instances where there were significant differences between on-time delivery in rural areas and urban ones. GAO flagged eight out of 50 USPS districts where there was a 5% or greater disparity in on-time delivery between rural and urban areas. In many of those cases, rural areas actually saw higher on-time delivery than urban ones. GAO conducted the study after USPS implemented a slower delivery standard for about 40% of first class mail. USPS, however, still faces challenges meeting its on-time performance goals nationwide. (USPS operational changes aren’t putting rural delivery at disadvantage, watchdog finds – Federal News Network)
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is eyeing a major support contract. CISA posted notice this week about a potential five-year, $200 million Digital Transformation Support Services procurement. The agency plans to host a virtual industry conference later this month before releasing the solicitation in March. The contract is being planned as a blanket purchase award, with work expected to start as soon as June.
  • To win a spot on the massive governmentwide acquisition contract known as Alliant 3, vendors may have to pay closer attention to sustainability. The General Services Administration added a new requirement to the draft solicitation that would require contractors to demonstrate how they publicly disclose greenhouse gas emissions. GSA said to claim credit in these areas the potential offeror must provide the location of the public disclosure on its own website or a third-party sustainability reporting portal. GSA is seeking comments on the draft requirements of Alliant 3 through January 31.
  • The Biden administration is rethinking how to collect sexual orientation and gender-identity data on federal statistical surveys. The Office of the Chief Statistician has just released recommendations on how agencies should gather and safeguard this data, as well as how to put it to good use. The Chief Statistician said the LGBTQ+ community struggled more than the rest of the U.S. population with mental health issues and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Federal employees have until Saturday to donate to this year’s Combined Federal Campaign. The CFC, which has been around since the 1960s, collects federal employee donations that will go toward 5,000 different charities participating this year. The annual campaign raised $80 million last year, and has collected a cumulative total of $8.65 billion since the program’s creation. The last day to donate to the 2022 campaign is January 14.

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