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News briefs: Week of Dec. 2

Dec. 1, 2013 - 02:31PM   |  
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DoD considers shutting all U.S. commissaries

Defense officials have reportedly asked the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to develop a plan to close all U.S. commissaries, according to a resale community source familiar with details of a meeting with representatives of the Joint Staff and Pentagon comptroller’s office.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the meeting was part of preparations for the fiscal 2015 DoD budget request that is due out in February.

Even if such a plan was included in the defense budget request for fiscal 2015 — almost a year away — it would have to be approved by Congress, where many lawmakers would oppose it.

The Military Coalition, comprised of more than 30 military and veterans advocacy groups, also would fiercely oppose such a plan.

The Defense Department had no direct comment on the commissary initiative. But Pentagon spokeswoman Joy Crabaugh said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “has made it clear on numerous occasions that all cost-cutting efforts need to be on the table” in order for DoD to meet the sequestration caps mandated under the 2011 Budget Control Act. DeCA has 178 commissaries in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. Almost 70 stores operate overseas. Operating costs for the overseas stores account for 35 percent of DeCA’s budget and 16 percent of total worldwide sales.

GSA's Challenge.gov among innovation finalists

The government’s online platform for challenging citizens to solve tough problems is among several finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award.

The General Services Administration’s Challenge.gov is one of five public-sector programs honored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as being a creative and effective government solution, according to a Nov. 26 news release.

Since its 2010 launch, Challenge.gov has hosted more than 300 crowdsourcing competitions, according to GSA. Nearly 60 agencies have used the website to solve challenges, including stopping illegal robocalls and developing 100 miles-per-gallon vehicles.

The Innovations in American Government Award winner is eligible to receive a $100,000 grant, and each finalist receives a $10,000 grant. The winner will be announced later this year.

DoD finalizing rules on IT, counterfeit parts risks

The Defense Department plans to wrap up work on regulations aimed both at reducing supply chain risks for information technology purchases and to address contractors’ responsibilities for avoiding the use of counterfeit electronic parts, according a six-month rule-making agenda released last week by the Office of Management and Budget.

Both proposed regulations are required by Congress. The first will allow agencies to exclude vendors identified as posing a risk to the “integrity and operation” of sensitive IT systems.

The second seeks to preclude the introduction of counterfeit parts that “could compromise DoD weapon and information systems,” according to the agenda.

Clarification

A Nov. 18 article, “DoD’s DISN becomes DoDIN,” mischaracterized the relationship between the Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN) and the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN). The DoDIN replaced the Global Information Grid and refers to DoD’s capabilities for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information. The DISN is part of the DoDIN.

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