State Department looks to update Consular Affairs IT with big contract

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  • The State Department plans to spend almost $1 billion on IT modernization. The Bureau of Consular Affairs in the State Department awarded an $850 million contract to Northrop Grumman to modernize four key services. Consular Affairs wants the vendor to bring its passport and visa application services, its overseas citizen services and its internal business processes on to a consolidated technology framework. Consular Affairs said this modernization effort will impact more than 300 locations, including 230 overseas posts and 29 passport agencies over the next decade. (Northrop Grumman)
  • A bipartisan group of current and former House lawmakers file an amicus brief in the case against the president’s three federal workforce executive orders. The brief makes similar arguments against the executive orders that several federal unions made in their own lawsuits against the Trump administration. A federal judge consolidated those lawsuits into one. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings and Peter King (R-N.Y.) were among the four who filed the brief. Former Congressmen William Clay Sr. and Jim Leach also filed the brief. Clay and Leach were members of the committee that originally considered and drafted the Civil Service Reform Act. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration is a step closer to getting the go-ahead to buy the Transportation Department’s headquarters. The Senate Appropriations Committee approves nearly $800 million for the purchase in a fiscal 2019 spending bill. The agency’s lease on its Navy Yard headquarters ends in 2021, but it must decide whether it’ll continue to rent or buy this October. GSA said it’ll save $50 million in rent if it buys the building. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration broke ground on a new facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico for more than 1,200 agency employees. The $174 million project will consolidate the existing campus of 25 buildings within a single headquarters. The Army Corps of Engineers will oversee construction of the facility. DOE said the new campus will reduce its deferred maintenance costs by $40 million. (Department of Energy)
  • Only 19 people are in charge of recruiting physicians to work at more than 1,200 Veterans Affairs facilities across the country. Nearly all of VA medical centers cited staffing shortages. But human resources professionals are the most common vacancy. VA said it hired 422 new HR specialists as of April, but still lacks the HR capacity it needs to quickly recruit and staff 35-to-40,000 vacancies. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed two new rules to overhaul how it pays for home health care, in response to requirements in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. One rule would let CMS reimburse home care agencies for the costs of remote patient monitoring. Another would establish so-called Patient-Driven Groupings Models, which change how home care providers are paid. The rules take up 600 pages in the Federal Register. Comments are open until August 18. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
  • The Pentagon has put its chief information officer in charge of what is likely to be the biggest IT project in DoD’s history. But there are still a lot of questions about DoD’s broader cloud strategy. In a statement to Federal News Radio, the department clarified a news release it issued a week ago, saying CIO Dana Deasy will take over responsibility for the upcoming, multi-billion dollar JEDI contract. That procurement had been overseen by DoD’s Cloud Executive Steering Group, but JEDI was only one of its assigned tasks. It was also supposed to develop a broader strategy to move DoD’s IT systems to the cloud. As of now, the Pentagon said it is still not sure what will become of the CESG. (Federal News Radio)
  • Members of the National Guard returning from deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or other war zones are not sleeping well, a new study found. It said 81 percent of guardsmen experience trouble sleeping and many described feeling vulnerable after their deployment. (ScienceDirect)
  • Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams became West Point’s newest superintendent and the first black officer to hold the position in the academy’s two hundred and sixteen year history. Williams formerly served as deputy chief of staff for the Army in Europe and is the sixtieth person to head West Point. (Associated Press)