With the Defense Department expected to announce a final furlough policy as early as this week, a union has asked the Merit Systems Protection Board for a heads-up on how it would rule on behalf of DoD employees who appeal decisions to make them take unpaid time off.
Issuing “a pre-emptive statement of opinion” on whether those employees could win appeals would save the board “from deciding thousands of cases that would likely come,” Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, said in last week’s letter to MSPB chairman Susan Grundmann. A board spokesman declined comment Friday, but said a response will be coming soon.
As of today, DoD officially plans to furlough most of its almost 800,000-strong civilian workforce for up to 14 days by the end of September. But in an April 26 letter to members of Congress, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated that the Pentagon is still searching for ways to trim or eliminate the number of furlough days. In a sign that something’s brewing, the Navy on Friday postponed sending furlough notices that were supposed to go out today.
In seeking an advance ruling, IFPTE is also hoping to prod Hagel into taking furloughs off the table altogether or else relax the department’s current policy requiring military services and other components to stick to the 14-day benchmark even if their finances allow for a lesser amount of unpaid time off. While that goal is a long-shot, the letter is a reminder that the board–as Federal Times has previously reported–could be swamped with appeals if mass furloughs do take place.
The Navy today told its employees that furlough letters — which were scheduled to go out Monday — will be delayed until further notice.
A Navy official told Federal Times that because the service hadn’t gotten the final furlough policy from the Pentagon, it was putting its notification effort on hold. Unless Navy hears otherwise, it is still expecting to furlough employees for up to 14 days by the end of fiscal 2013.
“We understand [the furlough process] causes angst and concern, and to mitigate that, we’ve tried to be as informative as we can,” a Navy official said. “Until we get that policy officially, we won’t be able to put out official notifications.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce his decision soon — perhaps as soon as next week — on how broad the furloughs will be.
The Navy, like all federal agencies, must give employees 30 days of official notice before it can actually furlough them. If the Navy’s notices went out May 6, as originally planned, that would mean June 5 would have been the earliest furloughs could begin. That would leave 16 weeks to furlough employees before the end of the fiscal year in September. But the delay in issuing notices could shorten that window.
Raytheon CEO William H. Swanson received a slight salary bump in 2012 but his overall compensation grew by $1.4 million, the defense contractor disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday.
Swanson received a base salary of $1.4 million for 2012, a small increase from 2011. But his overall compensation with incentive pay and stock holdings came to $16.4 million. That’s up from $15 million overall in 2011 and $14.8 million in 2010.
In explaining the compensation, the company noted in the SEC filing that Raytheon had “strong operational results” in 2012, including an increased backlog from $35.3 billion to $36.2 billion.
“Improved efficiencies and cost reduction initiatives were among the primary drivers of operating margin and earnings performance, while global demand for the Company’s innovative and cost-effective products and services resulted in strong bookings,” the company said.
Raytheon was the federal government’s third biggest contractor for 2012, behind only Boeing and Lockheed Martin. CEO’s for both companies during 2012 saw their compensation increase, too.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is one step closer to standing up cloud broker services for the Defense Department.
As DoD’s cloud broker, DISA will manage the use, performance and delivery of cloud services and negotiate contracts between cloud service providers and DoD consumers.
DISA announced Tuesday that it has developed a process for gathering and assessing DoD’s cloud computing requirements, evaluating vendors’ cloud offerings against contract requirements and has created a catalog for cloud services. In a June 2012 memo, DoD Chief Information Officer Teri Takai said all DoD components must acquire government or industry-provided cloud services using DISA, or obtain a waiver.
DISA will manage cloud services categorized as low or moderate in terms of potential impact on DoD operations in the event of a disaster or cyberattack. The agency will also ensure that cloud offerings comply with the department’s information assurance and cybersecurity policies.
DISA is using Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) standards to vet cloud providers. The security program provides baseline standards to approve cloud services and products for governmentwide use.
By June 2014, all cloud services and products in use at federal agencies or in an active acquisition process must meet FedRAMP requirements.
So, far, CGI Federal and North Carolina-based Autonomic Resources are the only companies that have completed the FedRAMP security reviews. The companies will be the first FedRAMP-approved vendors to host DoD’s public data inside commercial data centers.
DoD approval of these companies to provide commercial cloud services is imminent, according to DISA. Both companies have already seen big business among civilian agencies and have spots on the General Services Administration’s cloud computing contract.
GSA is deciding whether to stand up similar cloud broker services for civilian agencies, which could entail private companies serving as brokers.
The head of the Defense Department’s closely watched audit-readiness effort has left for the private sector.
Joe Quinn is now a senior manager at Ernst and Young’s federal practice, where he will advise clients on strategies “to improve financial, accounting and cost management capabilities,” the firm said in a news release last week.
As director of the Pentagon’s financial improvement and audit readiness (FIAR) program for the last three years, Quinn was point man for the mammoth undertaking of getting DoD’s books in order. Under a timetable that Congress has now written into law, the department is supposed to have an auditable statement of budgetary sources by September 2014, with the rest of its financial statements in similar shape by 2017.
But that timetable is in jeopardy on several fronts, ranging from the sequester-related budget cut to problems with fielding the “enterprise resource planning” systems that are critical for meeting the auditability deadlines.
“I think it’s increasing the risk that we won’t meet our goal,” DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said last month of the sequester, citing both the funding reduction and the drain on senior officials’ time. In a report released around the same time, the Defense Department’s inspector general said that the Defense Logistics Agency had committed more than $2 billion to deploy an ERP “incapable of providing standardized data for an auditable DoD statement of budgetary resources” by next year’s deadline.
Quinn could not be reached for comment today; the Pentagon is working on a solicitation for a permanent replacement, a spokeswoman said via email.
“I’m personally grateful for his many efforts,” DoD Deputy Chief Financial Officer Mark Easton said in a statement to FedLine. Quinn, he added, leaves behind a program that is making possible “the necessary changes in the key elements of our business–our people, processes and systems. The commitment of the department’s leadership to achieve audit readiness remains very strong, and we are well-positioned to reach our audit readiness goals in 2014 and 2017.”
Thousands of rogue Apple, Android and Windows devices found operating on the Army’s network could pose major security risks to sensitive data and Army network operations, according to a recent report.
Army commands failed to report more than 14,000 commercial smartphones and tablet computers being used across the service for research activities, data collection, mobile device pilot programs and other tasks, according to the March 26 inspector general report. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., were among the locations using unapproved devices.
Army officials at those sites did not ensure devices met security standards to protect data, and they failed to require all smartphones and tablets be wiped clean of data if reported lost or given to a new user. A lack of clear guidance from the Army chief information officer resulted in officials forgoing training and user agreements before handing out mobile devices.
“The Army did not implement an effective cybersecurity program for commercial mobiles devices,” the report said. “If devices remain unsecure, malicious activities could disrupt Army networks and compromise sensitive DoD information.”
“The Army CIO inappropriately concluded that [commercial mobile devices] were not connecting to Army networks and storing sensitive information; and, therefore, did not” require the same security standards used for other information systems, according to the report.
The IG review was conducted between April 2012 and February 2013 and did not include Blackberry devices.
The IG office set an April 25 deadline for the Army to comment on its recommendations, which include creating clear policy for tracking and reporting mobile device purchases and ensuring mobile devices follow the same security standards as other information systems. Earlier comments provided by the director for the Army CIO Cybersecurity Directorate were deemed nonresponsive.
As of February, DoD reported more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in use and in a pilot test phase, including 470,000 Blackberrys, 41,000 Apple devices and 8,700 Android devices. The challenge, however, is managing those devices.
Army officials are eager for DoD’s mobile device contract to be awarded this month. The management software will eventually manage, monitor and enforce security for 8 million devices. The software will allow the Army to remotely wipe data from devices and monitor what applications users download, websites they visit and data viewed or modified on their devices.
Some big breaking news, courtesy of the Associated Press: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to cut the number of furlough days for hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees from 22 to 14 by the end of the fiscal year in September. According to unnamed officials cited by the AP, Hagel made the decision today.
But a DoD spokesman had no immediate confirmation this evening, telling FedLine that the number of furlough days remains at 22 as officials analyze the effect of newly passed spending legislation. “The legislation could have some impact on the overall number of furlough days, but no decisions have been reached,” the spokesman, Mark Wright, said in an email. Furlough notices are still scheduled to go out around April 5, he said.
[This post has been updated.]
About halfway through this American Forces Press Service story today, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall tosses out an observation likely to catch the attention of Defense Department civilian employees. Although furloughs will still take place even if a fiscal 2013 spending bill now in Congress wins approval, fewer furlough days could be needed, the story paraphrases Kendall as saying at a conference.
Currently, DoD plans to furlough most of its approximately 800,000 workers for 22 days between April 25 and the rest of the fiscal year as the result of the sequester-related spending cuts that began this month. But as Federal Times reported this week, the FY13 bill is likely to shift $10.4 billion into the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance account that covers most civilian salaries (and a lot of other things).
A Pentagon spokeswoman had no other details this afternoon, saying the legislation has to pass first.
One of the great unknowns of sequestration is how many hours of federal agency staff time have been consumed by drafting, discussing and implementing the steps needed to handle the across-the-board spending cuts.
And it’s not over yet.
Under an April 1 deadline stemming from the continuing resolution approved last fall, more than three dozen agencies are supposed to give Congress updated operating plans that reflect the impact of the reductions for fiscal 2013. Inconveniently, however, lawmakers are still tinkering with a final version of the FY13 budget, meaning that some agencies—the Defense Department in particular—may have to rewrite those plans.
“We’re going to have a real problem because you’re about to change the whole framework for us,” DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said yesterday at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Because the baseline for the sequester cuts will change, Hale said, “we will need to go back and make sure we still have the right plans.”
Last fall’s CR expires March 27, meaning that lawmakers have to approve a replacement by next Wednesday or a trigger a partial government shutdown. The consensus that is that something will pass by then that will substantially rework the Pentagon’s budget to provide more flexibility.
Under a bill now grinding its way through the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security, NASA and a handful of other agencies could also see significant changes in the allocation of their FY13 budgets. Under questioning from Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, Hale conceded that DoD will probably not be able to make the April 1 deadline with “meaningful information.”
“We will respond to the law,” Rafael Borras, DHS undersecretary for management, said at the same hearing. “If there are any changes between now and April 1, we will adjust accordingly.”
The Department of the Navy will not award a contract next month for its Next Generation Enterprise Network as planned.
Navy officials had originally planned to award one or two contracts by Feb. 12 to develop the massive private network, known as NGEN, but the award date has been pushed back to May 2013.
“Due to the complexities of the NGEN requirements, we are changing our contract award estimate in order to ensure a complete and thorough review of offerors’ bids,” Ed Austin, spokesman for the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, said in a statement.
Three companies have already announced their intent to bid on the NGEN contract: HP; Computer Sciences Corp.; and its partner, Harris Corp.
So far, the continuing resolution and looming threat of automatic sequestration budget cuts have not impacted NGEN’s contract award schedule, the Navy said Thursday. But that could change in the future.
NGEN will replace the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), a contractor-owned network serving more than 700,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.