The big news today is the release of President Donald Trump’s budget recommendations, which as currently drafted would have a sizable impact on both federal agencies and state governments. The budget would increase defense spending by $54 billion, and would cut budgets at 18 other agencies, including eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Environmental Protection Agency would see its budget cut by 31%, with some 3,200 positions eliminated. Many programs that states rely on would also see cuts.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency within the Department of Homeland Security has extended the timeline for accepting bids to build the wall along the Mexican border, and “changed the course” of the project, according to GovExec. “The updated notice indicates some mission drift at the Department of Homeland Security,” the reporter writs. “Now, the agency is asking for two designs: one for a wall, and one for not-a-wall.” The presolicitation notice now looks for two different approaches: “one focused on concrete designs, and one focused on other designs.”
While many agencies would see large budget cuts, the president’s budget does increase the Department of Homeland Security’s budget by $2.8 billion, or about 7%, in large part to help increase the cybersecurity budget. That increase includes $1.5 billion for the department’s cybersecurity efforts. “Through a suite of advanced cybersecurity tools and more assertive defense of government networks, DHS would share more cybersecurity incident information with other federal agencies and the private sector, leading to faster responses to cybersecurity attacks directed at federal networks and critical infrastructure,” the budget states.
Christopher Kirchhoff, a managing partner for the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, told FedScoop in an interview that despite concerns that the Trump administration wouldn’t support Obama-era innovation shops, that DIUx work continues apace. The unit had made 20 awards totaling $43 million since June 2016, and Kirchoff said it’s ramping up efforts. “[W]e’ve had just an overwhelming response from a lot of the people we work with and in the combatant commands, and they’ve brought a lot of resources to the table as well,” he said. “For that reason we haven’t slowed down at all, in fact we’ve been moving faster than we ever expected.”
John Montano, a former defense contractor at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California, pleaded guilty to charges that he stole more than $250,000 worth of medical equipment that the military had planned to send overseas to treat injured marines. Montano worked in a warehouse run by 1st Medical Logistics Company, and according to a statement from the Department of Justice, he conspired “to steal expensive medical equipment… including anesthesia machines, autoclaves, ventilators, ultrasound machines, defibrillators and laryngoscopes among other items. He faces five years in prison.