*** The Merit Systems Protection Board may soon have a quorum to start digging into its backlog of more than 1,500 appeals. The White House announced on April 29 that President Donald Trump has appointed B. Chad Bungard to serve on the board.
Bungard, currently deputy commissioner in the Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight at the Social Security Administration, would be the third MSPB nominee in the pipeline. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee voted up the nomination of Dennis Kirk to serve as board char and Julia Clark to be a member in February.
Currently the agency operates without a board.
*** House Democrats are officially on board with reviving the Office of Technology Assessment. A draft of the fiscal year 2020 legislative appropriations bill includes $6 million for OTA, which provided lawmakers with expert guidance on technological developments from 1972 to 1995.
The dismal performance by lawmakers in 2018 hearings on social media prompted some of the first calls to bring back OTA to promote tech literacy in Congress. More recently, the Government Accountability Office jumped into the fray with its plan to supply members with technology assessments.
*** The Chief Management Officer at the Department of Defense offered a first look at the details of changes required under a recent defense bill to streamline and improve civilian human resources management, supply chain management, and acquisition areas including category management and real estate management. The effort also includes the establishment of the Fourth Estate Management Group to try to get a handle on overlap and duplication in business operations of Defense Agencies and DOD Field Activities (DAFAs).
*** The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its transparency report for fiscal year 2018. The report, required under a 2015 law that extended certain surveillance authorities, gives some topline numbers on the collection of information and the use of targeting and selectors under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Among the notable figures is a jump in the number of targets under Section 702 of FISA which allows surveillance non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. of individuals suspected of intelligence activity. The number of 702 targets -- which can include multiple "selectors" or communications accounts on the same individual -- jumped from just over 129,000 in 2017 to almost 165,000 in 2018. Similarly, the use of query terms concerning U.S. persons (individuals inside the U.S. or U.S. residents abroad) to search the content of communications obtained under 702 rose from 7,512 in 2017 to 9,637 in 2018.
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