DC area lawmakers hope to block funding for BLM move

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  • A group of Washington, D.C. area Democrats in the House are hoping to block any funding meant for the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters. E&E News reported the lawmakers sent a letter to House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), saying BLM’s planned move to Colorado “is designed to harm public lands and limit congressional oversight” by scattering senior leadership across the West. The lawmakers in question also worry the new location will give certain oil and gas companies easier access to agency leadership.
  • The four-week continuing resolution has cleared the House. The CR would keep the government open through Dec. 20. It includes a 3.1% pay raise for military members. But it’s silent on a pay raise for civilian federal employees. The CR also includes additional funding for the upcoming census and extends some health care programs. The CR passed with a 231-192 House vote. The Senate must pass the CR before sending it to the president’s desk for his signature. (Federal News Network)
  • A bipartisan bill would give the General Services Administration the ability to negotiate fixed-price contracts for future government leases. If passed, it would allow GSA to buy a property from a private owner, once its lease expires. Supporters said it could save GSA billions of dollars and eliminate wasteful agency leases. Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the bill in the Senate while Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Greg Pence (R-Ind.) introduced the bill in the House. (Sen. James Lankford)
  • GSA is working on tools to streamline the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program, or FedRAMP. The agency has partnered with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to develop a common machine-readable language called the Open Security Controls Assessment Language, or OSCAL, to expedite the agency risk and compliance process that vendors go through for FedRAMP certification. GSA is also looking to revamp FedRAMP.gov, to include short videos that help answer technical questions for vendors. (Federal News Network)
  • Three new policy memos are expected to kick start a series of sweeping changes to the suitability, credentialing and security clearance process. The president is expected to first sign a presidential national security memo to start the reforms. It will direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management to start these reforms. A second document will go out to agencies. It will instruct them to begin implementing continuous vetting capabilities. And a third memo will serve as a core federal vetting doctrine. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies received new cybersecurity marching orders for fiscal 2020. OMB told agencies they must report any cyber incident that has been under investigation for 72 hours without a successful determination of the event’s root cause or nature to the Department of Homeland Security. In the fiscal 2020 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) guidance, OMB laid out this new timeline as part of the Federal Incident Notification Guidelines. This is one of the few changes from the 2019 FISMA guidance. OMB said by reporting real or potential cyber incidents, DHS can use these details and other data to produce a Cyber Incident Scoring System score to estimate the risk of an incident. (White House)
  • The Government Accountability Office set a new record for cost saving . The watchdog agency estimated it saved the federal government more than $200 billion in fiscal 2019. For every dollar invested in its budget GAO said it identified $338 in savings. That’s more than double its five-year average return on investment of $171 for every dollar invested in the agency. GAO identified the most cost savings through its audits of Defense Department weapons systems and the IRS’ efforts to prevent identity theft. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A Senate bill to address a $12-billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service cleared its first legislative hurdle. The Restore Our Parks Act cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would set up a restoration fund from money the government receives from offshore energy development. That revenue would begin to fund deferred maintenance projects across the country. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.),  Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) sponsored the bill. (Sen. Mark Warner)
  • A bipartisan cadre of senators are calling on President Donald Trump to designate a senior coordinator dedicated to developing and deploying 5G technologies. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees said in a letter to Trump’s national security adviser that it is urgent to develop a national strategy for 5G. The letter also stressed the dangers of allowing China to continue to lead in the growth of 5G technology. (Sen. Mark Warner)
  • The Defense Innovation Unit is teaming up with civilian organizations like NASA and FEMA to find ways to automate the analysis of satellite images after a natural disaster. DIU is hosting an artificial intelligence prize challenge where industry, academia and individuals can submit code to identify buildings damaged in hurricanes, fires or earthquakes. Using AI to find those buildings on satellite images is much faster than doing it by eye, and can get first responder resources into needed areas faster. (Federal News Network)
  • The Senate’s getting closer to filling some key vacancies at the Defense Department. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday to confirm Lisa Hershman as DoD’s chief management officer — the third-highest ranking position in the department. That job has been vacant since John Gibson resigned a year ago. The committee also approved Robert Sander to be the Navy’s general counsel. That job hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed appointee since the beginning of the Trump administration. Senators also advanced the nomination of Dana Deasy as the Pentagon’s chief information officer. Deasy has been the CIO since 2017, before Congress made the job subject to Senate confirmation. All three nominations now head to the full Senate. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
  • Add the Air Force to the list of government organizations reminding its employees CBD products are not OK because they may cause a positive drug test. The Air Force Judge Advocate General Office said those products may have unregulated levels of THC in them, which is still illegal on a federal level. (Air Force)
  • The Social Security Administration aims to bring down what it calls a skyrocketing fraud problem. It launched an online form for people to report telephone scams. The callers demand money or gift cards to avoid arrest. Recipients are told there’s some legal problem with their Social Security number. Officials will analyze data from the online forms, seeking trends and investigative leads, and, they hope , to disrupt the callers. SSA the calls are the number one fraud the public reports to it and the Federal Trade Commission. (Social Security Administration)