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Enhanced Version of USA Freedom Act Introduced in Senate

  • Written by Sean Carmichael
  • Published in Security

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a new version of the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday, a bill intended to protect Americans’ phone records and other personal information. The original bill was passed by the House in May.

As a result of the fallout from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden’s release of confidential information and revelations regarding NSA policy, President Barack Obama asked Congress in January to curb the massive data collection policies in place by the NSA.

The House bill passed in May, while effective in addressing these concerns, was criticized by many as being too vague and lenient, which led to Leahy’s aggressive changes. One of the main concerns voiced by detractors of the House’s bill was the vague definition of “specific selection term,” which could potentially lead to mass information gathering based on broad characteristics such as geographic location.

 

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F-35 a No-Show at Farnborough

  • Written by Sean Carmichael
  • Published in Technology

The much-anticipated international showcase of the F-35 proved to be a black eye on the program when the aircraft was conspicuously absent from the U.K.’s Farnborough Airshow on July 19. The absence was caused by safety concerns regarding an incident that took place on a Florida airfield weeks earlier.

On June 23, a Pratt & Whitney engine on an F-35 at a Florida air base caught fire as the pilot was preparing for takeoff. In the aftermath of the fire, the Pentagon ordered the inspection of the entire 97-plane fleet, and a grounding of the fleet in the meantime. The Pentagon has concluded that it was likely nothing more than a temporary glitch. As of mid-July, the grounding had been lifted. Some operating restrictions are still in place, including a requisite for inspections to take place every three hours. Despite the lifting of the ban, the Pentagon decided not to allow the F-35 to appear at Farnborough.

 

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Navy and Marine Corps Contracting Processes Questioned

  • Written by
  • Published in Logistics

As part of a requirement, the DoD Inspector General’s (IG) Officer performed an audit, reviewing a nonstatistical sample of 170 contracts (77 basic contracts and 93 orders) out of 9,973 Navy and Marine Corps contract actions, valued at over $32 billion from March 17, 2011, through February 29, 2012.

Of the 170 contracts reviewed, valued at about $7.7 billion, Navy and Marine Corps contracting personnel did not consistently implement the FAR revisions, called the interim rule, for 134 contracts, valued at about $7.54 billion. Contracting personnel issued contracts that did not follow the interim rule because they were not clear about interim rule requirements or were unaware of the interim rule. As a result, contracting personnel continue to issue cost-reimbursement contracts that may increase DoD’s contracting risks because cost-reimbursement contracts provide less incentive for contractors to control costs.

 

 

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Department Must “Seize this Historic Opportunity to Transform VA”

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Veterans

In remarks at the VFW’s 115th Annual Convention, which took place in St. Louis, Mo., this week, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson said that though “the Department of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of its most serious crisis in more than a generation … [the VA] has before it perhaps its greatest opportunity to enhance care for veterans in its history.” In front of a gathered audience of VFW members, Gibson spoke frankly about how the VA plans to tackle the challenges ahead.

According to the acting secretary, the faults that have been revealed over the past several months—such as extended wait times for care, improper scheduling practices, and a lack of accountability for managers who hid poor performance or punished employees who pointed out wrongdoing—can be sorted into three categories: business process problems, leadership problems, and resource problems.

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DLA Partners with Shipyards on Hazardous Material Management System

  • Written by Amanda Neumann
  • Published in Logistics

A partnership between the Defense Logistics Agency and Naval Sea Systems Command has helped implement a new system for managing hazardous materials and waste compliance reporting at four naval shipyards.

The Hazardous Material Management System replaced the Navy’s legacy hazardous materials and hazardous waste system that was being retired, said Carolyn Liebeck, program manager for chemical management services in DLA Logistics Operations. DLA took responsibility for this mission as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005.

"This was a huge endeavor," she said. "These shipyards are the four largest industrial sites for the Navy; they’re massive bases. So the partnership and teamwork with NAVSEA was essential in making this program a success."

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves DoD Spending Bill

Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced today that the committee has approved the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2015 Appropriations Bill unanimously by voice vote. The next step for the measure would be consideration by the full Senate, though the possibility of another government shutdown threatens the bill’s chances of reaching the floor.

The bill provides $489.6 billion in base budget funding, with an additional $59.7 billion included for overseas contingency operations, compared to the $486.8 billion base budget and $85.2 billion in OCO funds enacted for fiscal year 2014. Priorities emphasized in the bill include: supporting our troops, veterans and their families; investing in innovation to maintain our technological edge; restoring readiness and supporting high priority programs; and instituting reforms.

 

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Air Force Reorganization Aims for Major Savings

As part of ongoing cost savings efforts, the Air Force announced reorganizational changes today that are designed to save $1.6 billion over the next five years. The deactivation and realignment of various commands and agencies are part of the Air Force Management Headquarters Review, a comprehensive initiative to reduce overhead costs and redundant activities and improve efficiencies and business processes.

The biggest change is the creation of an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will be a central organization responsible for policy and oversight of installation and mission support activities. The new center will consolidate support functions that are currently spread across major command staffs, though execution will remain at the local level. The center will report to Air Force Materiel Command.

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International Engagement Key to Future S&T Development

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Technology

A new document released on Monday, “International S&T Engagement Strategy,” outlines a new Department of Defense strategy for a more coordinated approach to international science and technology (S&T) research, development and acquisition. The document outlines the vision, mission, guiding principles, and objectives of the strategy, and briefly discusses how these objectives can be achieved, with a detailed implementation memorandum pending.

Signed by Alan Shaffer, principal deputy of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and Keith Webster, director of internal cooperation for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the document’s introduction states that this increased cooperation “will deliver improved capability through our own research, development and acquisition programs, and help to build capacity and capability with our international partners.”

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RIMPAC 2014 Off to Strong Start

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Training

The world’s largest multinational maritime exercise is underway in Hawaii, with participants from 22 nations taking part in the unique training opportunity. Hosted every two years by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, this year’s event is the 24th since the training series began, and will run for just over a month. The opening reception took place on June 26, and closing ceremonies will be on August 1.

In that five week time period, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States will employ 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel to take part in training events covering a variety of maritime skills and scenarios, ranging from disaster relief to security operations to war fighting operations.

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New Sleep Disorder Guidelines Issued for mTBI Patients

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Health

New materials released yesterday by officials at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) will provide assistance in the identification and treatment of sleep disturbances impacting patients who have suffered a concussion. Consisting of clinical recommendations, a clinical support tool, a provider training guide, a patient education fact sheet, and a sleep kit containing sleep enhancing materials such as an eye mask and earplugs, the product suite is designed to provide comprehensive guidance for the assessment and treatment of sleep disorders resulting from a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Creation of the Management of Sleep Disturbances Following Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Product Suite was a collaborative affair, with input from personnel from DVBIC, all five military services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat program, National Intrepid Center of Excellence, U.S. Central Command, and the Readiness Division of the Defense Health Agency, as well as civilian and academic partners.

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