Quick Hits

*** The Department of Commerce is weighing rules that could limit the export of "dual-use and less sensitive military items" that fall under a broad definition of "emerging technology," according to a notification in the Federal Register.

Commerce regulates the export of sensitive tech under the Commerce Control List, which, in its current form, could be missing some important technologies that have been developed more recently, the announcement reads. The agency is looking for comment to determine what, if anything, should be added to this list.

The announcement includes more than a dozen categories of technology the department might list as emerging technology that is critical to national security: biotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, data analytics, advanced surveillance technologies and others.

The deadline to comment is Dec. 19. 

*** Virginia's senators are urging the General Services Administration to do more to protect federal workers from tax liabilities that can come with job-related moving expenses.

Such moving expenses were tax-deductible until Jan. 1, when changes related the GOP's tax-cut bill took effect. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) successfully pushed GSA earlier in April to allow agencies to cover such tax liabilities, but complained in a Nov. 16 letter to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy that "some federal workers are only getting partial guidance on managing this process." As a result, they wrote, relocated workers "could be waiting months ... to be reimbursed," and be forced "to take on debt or borrow from their retirement accounts to carry these costs." 

The senators asked Murphy to make sure agencies "present workers with all the tools available to manage these new costs." 

*** Private plane owners have hit up the Federal Aviation Administration for almost $1 million in reimbursements in the first month of a program to push new avionics equipment that will connect with the FAA's next-generation air traffic control system.

As part of the FAA's NextGen system, older general aviation aircraft must install technology that automatically tracks them in flight -- making it easier for ground controllers to tell where an aircraft is without traditional surveillance radar. All planes that fly in areas where location transponders are now required must have the new gear by January 2020.

The agency said that as of Nov. 15 it had issued 1,438 of the $500 rebates. The program runs through Oct. 19, 2019, but seems likely to exhaust its $4.9 million in funding much sooner.

This is the FAA's second $500 rebate program for the required avionics. The initial program, which ran from Sept. 19, 2016, to Sept. 18, 2017, issued more than 10,000 such rebate payments.

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