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FCW Insider: Feb. 27

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers at a budget hearing that he hadn't requested newly delegated authority to eliminate collective bargaining at DOD agencies spelled out in a recent presidential memo. Esper added he was waiting for a staff analysis of a recent presidential memo before deciding whether to leverage new authority. Lauren C. Williams reports.

A bid to reauthorize the USA Freedom Act in the House Judiciary Committee was postponed as members deal with the fallout of a new oversight report that casts sharp doubts about the efficacy of surveillance and as Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) prepares to proposed amendment rolling back some of the act's spying authority. Derek B. Johnson has more.

Transportation Command's top general told lawmakers that contractors are struggling with cybersecurity. Lauren takes a look.

At a budget hearing, senators pressed acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about technology to increase non-invasive screening of vehicles and cargos crossing into the U.S. for opioids and other drugs. Mark Rockwell has the story.

Quick Hits

*** The Federal Communications Commission began collecting data from U.S. telecommunications carriers to track Huawei and ZTE gear in their networks. The relatively inexpensive equipment has been used mostly by cost-conscious smaller and rural carriers. The FCC adopted a rule that prevents companies from using the Universal Service Fund to buy Huawei and ZTE products because of national security concerns.

*** Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, weighed in on the lawsuit slowing down the Defense Department's $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud program.

"Where the JEDI contract is concerned, we have the president once again inserting himself into the debate and causing a problem," Smith said in opening remarks at a hearing featuring defense chief Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Now I don't know exactly what happened, but unquestionably a judge decided that because the president specifically apparently said that he didn't want the contract to go to Amazon because he has some beef with Jeff Bezos, we are now slowed down in our ability to properly defend this country."

*** At the same hearing, Smith and ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) complained about the administrative transfer of $3.8 billion in defense money for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The transfer, "undercuts any argument about the need for resources within the Department of Defense. And it also undercuts the congressional process," Smith said. Thornberry predicted that "the result of this will be greater restrictions on the department's ability to move money around to meet changing needs, and the country will suffer as a result."

Posted by FCW Staff on Feb 27, 2020 at 2:11 AM


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