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*** The appropriations bill for Homeland Security passed June 11 in the House Appropriations Committee looks to revive the stalled Silicon Valley Investment Program, which funds tech startups with applications of interest to DHS component agencies. SVIP, which funds companies more like a venture capital firm than an agency conducting procurement, uses other transaction authority to make awards. The program's funding authority dried up under the funding bill passed in February which ended the five-week shutdown. The legislative report to the appropriation "encourages" the funding of additional SVIP opportunities.

*** The Financial Services and General Government appropriation that passed committee June 11 offers the Election Assistance Commission a bump from $10 million to $16.2 million, and adds hundreds of millions of dollars in new grants for states to replace out of date election equipment. EAC officials have pleaded with Congress to increase their budget, saying cuts over the past decade have slashed the agency’s workforce in half from nearly 50 in 2009 to less than 25 this year while also slowing down vital work testing and certifying voting machines.

The new $600 election security grant program would require states to prioritize the replacement of paperless Direct Recording Electronic voting machines with systems that have a hand-marked, voter-verified paper trail. States must also submit a certification to the EAC that they have a plan to replace all DRE machines in the state to be eligible.

*** A group of U.S. Department of Agriculture employees threatened with relocation under a planned agency reorganization voted to obtain representation by the American Federation of Government Employees on June 11. Employees at USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture voted 137-2 to join AFGE. The move follows a similar vote at USDA's Economic Research Service in May. Both NIFA and ERS have been tapped for relocation outside the Washington, D.C. area by the Trump administration, although House Democrats are using appropriations bills to block the move.

Posted on Jun 12, 2019 at 2:00 AM


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