The House Armed Services Committee has finished its work on the 2024 defense authorization bill. The measure's topline funding level is in line with the Biden Administration's proposal — it authorizes $874 billion in discretionary spending on national defense programs next year, including the defense portions of the Energy Department's budget. Among hundreds of other legislative provisions, it would grant a military pay raise of 5.2%, plus much bigger raises for junior enlisted service members. The massive bill's next stop is the House floor.
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Anticipated pay raises for all employees at the Transportation Security Administration could be reversed for some of them. Pay reforms for TSA’s non-screening workforce are prohibited under a fiscal 2024 homeland security spending bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Congress passed funding in 2023 to increase salaries for all TSA employees starting this July. But if the new House measure becomes law, the forthcoming pay raises would have to be reversed for non-screening staff like federal air marshals, canine handlers and headquarters employees, according to TSA administrator David Pekoske. “That will have an incredibly negative impact on the workforce at TSA,” Pekoske said.
The Technology Modernization Fund received a big thumbs down from House appropriators. The government spending bill released by the House Appropriations Committee this week would include no new funding for the TMF in fiscal 2024. The Biden administration is requesting $200 million for the IT modernization account next year. But the TMF’s coffers are far from empty. Data on USAspending.gov show the fund has more than $786 million in unobligated balances.
The military health care system still needs to complete Congressionally-mandated reforms. The Government Accountability Office wants the Defense Department to do a better job of monitoring actions taken to address statutory requirements for the military health system. DoD completed about 73% of the reforms required over the past 10 years. GAO said in addition to monitoring, the department still needs to finalize plans to transfer public health organizations and research-and-development organizations out of the health system.
There will soon be a new number two at the Department of Homeland Security. DHS Chief of Staff Kristie Canegallo is set to take over as acting deputy. She will start that role on July 21, following the departure of current deputy John Tien. Canegallo has been the department’s chief of staff since January 2022. She also served in multiple White House positions during both the Bush and Obama administrations. Between 2018 and 2021, Canegallo worked at Google as vice president of trust and safety.
The Treasury Department has hired Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to be something of a one-stop-shop for its cloud computing services. Under a new contract worth up to $1.3 billion, the company plans to deliver an array of cloud services from Amazon, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Google. The contract vehicle also covers professional IT services to integrate those cloud offerings with Treasury's systems. The overall program is called "T-Connect." The company said the single-award contract is good for up to seven years.
The Senior Executives Association has picked a new president. He's Marcus Hill, a former senior executive overseeing the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. Hill retired in 2021 after a 17-year tenure as an SES. He also served as the association's chairman until this month. The Senior Executives Association has been without a full time president since 2020. Bob Corsi served in the position on an interim basis before he stepped down last year.
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An Army training exercise planned for early 2024 will bring in other services, as well as international allies, to fine-tune command-and-control practices. Project Convergence-4 (PC-4) will focus on getting data on targeting and contested environments and turning it into actionable information for commanders. The exercise will build on training done over the last year and a half using artificial intelligence, sensors, and data to inform Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, know as CJADC2. The Army plans to expand the exercise from its previous tactical level to a theater level with brigades instead of battalions.