Virginia lawmakers make final, non-partisan pitch for new FBI HQ in their state

In today's Federal Newscast: Powerful Virginia lawmakers, of all stripes, are making a final pitch to land the new FBI HQ in their state. Some GOP Congressmen a...

  • Virginia lawmakers are making a final pitch to the Biden administration to bring a new FBI headquarters to the state. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined Virginia's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin and most of the state's House delegation in making their case to the federal government’s landlord: the General Services Administration. They argued that a proposed site in Springfield, Virginia is ideal because it is the closest to the FBI’s National Academy and National Crime Lab, as well as the Justice Department’s headquarters in D.C. The other two final sites are in Maryland’s Prince George’s County. Maryland lawmakers have made a similar appeal to GSA. They also secured language in the fiscal 2023 federal government spending bill giving both states a chance to make one final pitch to GSA before the final decision. Those pitches are expected to happen in the coming weeks.
    (Virginia delegation letter to GSA - Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.))
  • The top Republican on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee is pushing back on a proposed rule for federal contractors. The Biden administration is asking companies that do business with the federal government to report their greenhouse gas emission levels, as well as their reduction targets. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said the proposed rule puts a disproportionate burden on small businesses. To comply, she said, it would cost small businesses more than $100 million the first year and $62 million each year after. Ernst is calling on the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to rescind the rule.
    (Sen. Joni Ernst letter to GSA - Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa))
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing questions from House lawmakers about pandemic relief spending. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republicans are asking FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell why the COVID-19 disaster declaration incident period has been extended to May 11, even though President Biden has said the pandemic is over. They also want to know how many outstanding requests FEMA has for COVID-related assistance. The agency has obligated more $110 billion dollars on COVID disaster relief since the start of the pandemic.
  • The General Services Administration faces a new protest over its commercial platforms initiative. The National Industries for the Blind, the Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind, filed a complaint with the Court of Federal Claims over GSA’s commercial platforms request for proposals issued in December. The three groups said GSA is not requiring commercial providers to comply with the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act, which mandates the use of products approved by the AbilityOne Commission. GSA responded to the protest by issuing an RFI asking for industry feedback on whether they could block non-compliant products and substitute compliant ones.
  • The State Department is looking to build on an effort to track war crimes in Ukraine. The State Department’s Conflict Observatory could be just the first of many open-source efforts for the agency. The observatory is a foreign-assistance program that uses satellite imagery and digital investigative techniques to document potential Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Susan Wolfinbarger is team lead for the Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations at the State Department. “This kind of investment in technologies and analytics is something that we’re looking at into the future, particularly in CSO as a bureau,” Wolfinbarger said.
  • Union leaders and lawmakers heighten calls to implement legislation impacting federal employees. The American Federation of Government Employees has renewed its push to change benefits and pay for the federal workforce, in several ways. The federal union is pushing forward, for example, on legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. Those two provisions reduce Social Security benefits for some federal employees. The union additionally advocated for a bill that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. AFGE has also voiced support for an 8.7% average pay raise in 2024.
  • The Department of Homeland Security's next mega-small business contract, not called FirstSource, is about ready for its first close up. DHS told industry that it will release the draft solicitation for the Programmatics, Administration, Clerical and Technical Services (PACTS) III contract by February 23. The vehicle is for service-disabled, veteran-owned small firms and has a ceiling of $1.5 billion. DHS expects to hold an industry day for PACTS III on March 16. PACTS II has been highly successful, with DHS having to increase its ceiling by 30% and extending the expiration date by three years to April 2025.
  • The Office of Personnel Management has selected finalists for the 2023 Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF). Some 850 applicants received acceptance to the program from OPM. The finalists were selected from more than 10,000 applicants, a record number over the past 10 years. PMF is a leadership development program targeting applicants with advanced degrees. The finalists are appointed to two-year, full-time federal positions across the government.
  • President Biden has fired Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, months after a scathing IG report accused him of ethical and policy violations. The October report found he and his family had routinely misused an agency vehicle for personal use, and that he had misrepresented himself as a law enforcement officer. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for Blanton’s firing on Monday. The Architect of the Capitol, appointed by the president, is in charge of the maintenance and operation of the Capitol complex and the Supreme Court building.
  • Gina Ortiz Jones will step down as under secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management. The Senate confirmed Ortiz Jones to the position last July. She will leave on March 6, and comptroller Kristyn Jones will perform the duties as acting under secretary. Ortiz Jones served in the Air Force as an intelligence officer and later worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency and in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. As under secretary, Ortiz Jones manages an Air Force budget of $194 billion.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected three commercial partners to begin building prototype quantum computers. The companies — Microsoft, Atom computing and PsiQuantum — each has a different design in mind for the project. The initial phase is set to last five years and companies will present design concepts and describe plans to create a utility-scale quantum computer. The designs need to show that the computing value of the system exceeds its cost. Each design will go through four phases of testing and evaluation.


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