Veterans organization wants new acting VA secretary

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  • A major veterans service organization is asking President Donald Trump to reconsider his appointment of Robert Wilkie to be the acting Veterans Affairs secretary. AMVETS wrote to Trump, stumping for current Deputy VA Secretary Tom Bowman to serve as acting secretary. Trump announced in a tweet last week that he would name another person to lead VA temporarily while his new appointee awaits Senate confirmation. Trump nominated White House physician Adm. Ronny Jackson to take David Shulkin’s place permanently. (AMVETS)
  • The Interior Department walked back plans to increase entrance fees at National Parks. The proposal would have charged visitors $70 per vehicle to enter sites like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone during the peak summer season. The National Park Service received over 109,000 comments on the price hike, most of them against it. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke pitched the idea last October, saying it would have raised $70 million a year to pay for maintenance projects at the NPS. (Federal News Radio)
  • A group representing government contractors wants the Defense Department to cut back on some of its rules when it comes to buying cloud services. The Professional Services Council is asking the Pentagon to alleviate regulatory barriers and take advantage of funding flexibility to quicken the procurement of cloud. (Professional Services Council)
  • The Defense Department notified Congress that two of its weapons systems have breached the standards lawmakers use to keep tabs on cost growth. The increases from previously-expected costs — known as Nunn-McCurdy breaches — both involved Navy systems. In both cases, Integrated Defense Electronic Countermeasures and Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules, the Pentagon said its per-unit costs went up significantly because it decided to buy fewer quantities. Overall, DoD said the total lifetime acquisition cost for all of its weapons systems has increased by $33 billion  since its last report to Congress a year ago. (Department of Defense)
  • Another Defense Department agency wants to be just like Silicon Valley. The Office of Naval Research set up its Naval Innovation Process Adoption program. The program adopts entrepreneurial tactics found in innovative companies and calls on experts in the Navy and Marine Corps to speed up delivery of equipment to troops. (Federal News Radio)
  • General Dynamics completed its purchase of government IT contractor CSRA. The transaction is valued at around $9.7 billion. CSRA will become part of General Dynamics IT sector. CACI put in an offer as well for the company but ended up withdrawing it last week. (General Dynamics)
  • The federal acquisition training website is finally back online. After more than three months, the Army and the General Services Administration restored access for civilian agencies to the Federal Acquisition Institute’s Training Application System or FAITIS. GSA and the Army, which runs the system, took FAITIS down in late 2017 for unscheduled maintenance. This maintenance limited access to the site only to those acquisition workers with a dot-mil email address. With FAITIS being down for so long, the FAI team had to manually process warrants, certifications and training registrations. A GSA spokeswoman told Federal News Radio the agency is looking at all possible solutions to ensuring this extended downtime doesn’t happen again.
  • The Health and Human Services Department laid out its “reimagine HHS” initiative with six main goals. One of them is to develop a 21st century workforce and maximize talent within the department. HHS Chief Human Capital Officer Christine Major said 37 specific goals are driving the maximize talent initiative. The agency isn’t focusing on every single one of them right away. But performance management and talent acquisition are receiving special attention. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Trump administration has filled or nominated more second-tier policy positions. Dr. Brent K. Park was sworn in as deputy administrator for the Office of Defense Nuclear Non-proliferation, at the National Nuclear Security Administration. The White House nominated Justin George Muzinich as deputy secretary of the Treasury, where he is currently counsel. Duane C. Caneva was tapped to be chief medical officer of the Homeland Security Department. The ER doctor was director of medical preparedness policy at the National Security Council. (White House)