A major contractor for the Veterans Affairs Department is getting acquired. Cognosante, a provider of digital transformation and cloud modernization services, will merge into Accenture Federal Services. Cognosante won more than $300 million in federal prime contracts the last two years, with its largest customers being the VA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Cognosante holds spots on several governmentwide contracts including CIO-SP3, OASIS and Alliant 2. Accenture Federal Services did not disclose the terms of the deal.

The Energy Department is making it easier for employees to test out artificial intelligence tools, with its new AI discovery zone, which aims to let its employees explore large language models and generative artificial intelligence tools in a safe environment. The sandbox gives DOE AI researchers and developers a platform to experiment with Google and other generative AI tools using public data. One prototype that DOE is developing would make it easier for grantees to search for and determine if they are eligible for specific agency grant opportunities. The Energy Department is also running an intra-agency working group to develop best practices and a reference guide for safely using GenAI across the department.

U.S. Cyber Command is growing its acquisition program. CYBERCOM is adding 50 billets to its acquisition workforce this year. The command started with just 10 billets in 2017, but now has slowly built up its acquisition programs as Congress has granted it new buying authorities. The command has more responsibility to procure the cyber weapons and services relied upon by its Cyber Mission Force. CYBERCOM is training its growing workforce on non-traditional acquisition tools, such as DoD’s software acquisition pathway.

Senate plans to find a permanent home for pandemic-fraud fighting tools are getting support in the House. House Oversight and Accountability Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) introduced the Government Spending Oversight Committee Act. The bill would preserve data analytics tools used by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) and would redeploy them to uncover more fraud in federal spending. Those tools have helped agency watchdogs uncover nearly $2 billion in pandemic-era fraud. But those tools are currently scheduled to go away when the PRAC disbands in September 2025. This is the House version of a bill that passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week.

Lawmakers are pushing for more access to specialty services in the military’s health care system. Right now, appointments for specialties like physical therapy, nutrition and optometry can take weeks. A special House panel on quality of life in the military said DoD needs to make those services available without a referral. Those recommendations are among dozens of others the committee has teed up for inclusion in the 2025 Defense authorization bill.

(Lawmakers push for military health care expansion – House Armed Services Committee)

There is a new official in charge of building out technologies that underpin the background investigation system. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has named Edward Lane as program executive officer. He will oversee key programs, including the National Background Investigation Services. That effort aims to modernize and integrate background investigation technologies into one unified system. Lane previously served as deputy senior acquisition executive at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The IRS hit its goal for the number of taxpayers who used a new option to file their taxes online. And they filed for free. Provided this year by the IRS, more than 100,000 taxpayers used the Direct File platform to file their federal tax returns, meeting the agency’s target for users. About 50,000 of those taxpayers filed their returns during the final week of the filling season. The IRS invited taxpayers in 12 states to test out the Direct File pilot program this year. The agency is reviewing user feedback to see if it should scale up the program next year.

( – Treasury Department)

Congress wants to expand a pilot program to provide fellowship opportunities for military spouses. The program, facilitated through the Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Hero program, has proved to be successful since its inception in 2022, so Congress wants to make it a permanent program. In 2023, over 400 fellows participated in the program, with nearly all of them landing permanent jobs with annual salaries of $65,000 and above. Lawmakers said their recommendation to make the program permanent will be included in the 2025 defense policy bill.

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