Posted by Christine Harada, Associate Administrator of Government-wide Policy
Today we released the fiscal year (FY) 2015 travel per diem rates, which will take effect on October 1, 2014. By law, each year GSA sets these rates for the Continental United States. The rates are based on local market costs of mid-priced hotels and provide caps, or maximum amounts, that can be reimbursed to federal employees for lodging and meals while on official travel. As an additional savings measure, the methodology GSA uses to set lodging per diem rates includes taking five percent off of the final average daily rate in each location.
Over the last year, GSA’s Governmentwide Travel Advisory Committee reviewed existing travel policies, processes, and procedures for federal government travelers, beginning with the methodology by which annual adjustments are made to the Federal Per Diem rate. The committee provided suggestions on ways the government can save money on other aspects of travel spend. This group, made up of travel managers from Fortune 100 private sector organizations, travel industry representatives, and federal travel experts, affirmed the lodging per diem methodology was sound, and will present its final recommendations to the GSA Administrator at the end of calendar year 2014.
In addition to setting per diem rates, GSA also provides agencies with travel policies and tools to further reduce costs. These are a part of GSA’s ongoing commitment to responsible spending. We also continue to revise and strengthen our own internal travel and conference policies.
In recent years, the Administration has taken steps to reduce travel and conference spending. We have implemented strict policies and controls to ensure that all travel and conference expenditures are cost-effective and advancing the goals of federal agencies. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released clear guidance directing agencies to reduce travel costs by 30 percent. These efforts have had a significant impact on travel spending, showing a decline from nearly $17 billion of travel activity in FY2010 to under $12 billion in FY2013. At the same time, there are always circumstances in which travel is necessary. Federal employees routinely have to travel to serve the American people. This means fulfilling responsibilities that range from inspecting the food we eat to assisting victims of natural disasters. Each agency must ensure that any spending serves the American people as efficiently and effectively as possible.
For more information on FY 2015 travel per diem rates, please visit www.gsa.gov/perdiem. You can also download GSA’s per diem app on your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry devices.
Posted by Thomas Walton, Communications Specialist, Public Buildings Service
When the new U.S. Courthouse in Salt Lake City was dedicated this August, everyone hailed it as a sustainability winner. The courthouse was built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and surpass industry standards by using 34 percent less energy than comparable buildings.
The building uses new innovative energy-saving technologies such as advanced mechanical systems, high-performance exterior building enclosure, and natural daylight harvesting. The daylight harvesting alone is projected to save an additional 4 percent of energy on top of the current 34 percent savings.
The building features a 10-story atrium in the center facing the elevator core that holds a large sculpture made from 380 tubes of optical aluminum created by renowned artist James Carpenter. The interior features wood paneling and white oak floors that temper the glass and aluminum characteristics of the exterior. A circular glass staircase that connects the first three floors is a focal point in the atrium.
Posted by Cara Battaglini, Communications Manager, Federal Acquisition Service
Being the first line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity in the federal government is no small order. It takes innovative thinking and cutting edge technology, which is why the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer is utilizing an enterprise wide approach to IT security operations. By awarding a $33 million IT security contract to HUBZone Business Valiant Solutions, GSA IT is committed to actively defending against cyber attacks and mitigating risks from both outside and inside the GSA environment.
GSA is proud to present a HUBZone business with an opportunity to do critically important work for the agency on behalf of the American taxpayer, and believes that a partnership with Valiant Solutions will provide not only first rate security services, but also unmatched value. The OCIO and Valiant will work together to improve GSA’s security posture through real time security operations and proactive policy, training, and governance activities. These actions will improve the ability to prevent intrusion and loss of critical data present on GSA networks.
This Task Order will provide GSA with expert intrusion detection and engineering support for systems and emerging IT security initiatives. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated and advanced persistent threats multiply, preventing attacks is only one step in creating a secure enterprise. Just as important is how an agency responds to a cyber security incident. A key component of this task order will be providing the forensic services to carry out a full investigation of major security events and prevent attempted attacks from disrupting agency priorities.
Posted by Tina Jaegerman, Public Affairs Officer, Greater Southwest Region
GSA’s FAS and the U.S. Air Force’s Sustainment Center (AFSC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deepen our relationship and assist the AFSC to more effectively obtain the products and services they need to accomplish their mission and serve the American people. The MOU is just the latest example of GSA’s commitment to delivering cost-effective customer service.
Though GSA’s Southeast, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions have been making it easy for the AFSC to do business with the government for several years, the MOU outlines a strategic relationship between FAS and AFSC. The agreement establishes a working group that will identify cost-effective enterprise-wide solutions.
Examples of the FAS programs that are available to the AFSC include:
General Supplies and Services Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) program
Professional services contracts such as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) and the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program
Direct Client Support (DCS) model
Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSI)
Reverse Auctions (RA) electronic tool
Global Supply Special Order Program (SOP).
AFSC, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK, and its subordinate organizations at Robins AFB in Georgia and Hill AFB in Utah, provide war-winning expeditionary capabilities to the warfighter through world-class depot maintenance, supply chain management and installation support.
The AFSC provides critical sustainment for the Air Force’s most sophisticated weapons systems, including: A-10 Thunderbolt II, AC-130, B-1 Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, E-3 Sentry, E-6 Mercury, E-8 Joint STARS, EC-130, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, F-22 Raptor, HC-130, HH-60 Pave Hawk, ICBM, KC-135 Stratotanker, MC-130, MH-53 Pave Low, RQ-4 Global Hawk, U-2 Dragon Lady, and UH-1 Iroquois aircraft as well as a wide range of aircraft engines and component parts.
The signatories at the MOU signing ceremony were FAS Commissioner, Mr. Thomas A. Sharpe, Jr., AFSC Director of Contracting, Mr. Robert K. Boyles. Other key participants include Sylvia Hernandez, the Regional Administrator for Region 7, and George Prochaska, the Region 7 FAS Commissioner.
August is Art Appreciation Month, and to celebrate, we’re putting our attention on some of the art on display at Land Ports of Entry across the U.S.
Non-Sign II, Peace Arch Land Port of Entry, Blaine, Washington
Located on Semiahmoo Bay south of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Interstate-5 border crossing in Blaine, Washington, represents one of the most heavily trafficked points between the United States and Canada. Peace Arch Park, where the first monument to world peace was erected in 1921, straddles the international boundary.
It is also home to one of many Art in Architecture installations commissioned by GSA for land ports of entry along our northern and southern borders.
Non-Sign II, produced by artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Seattle-based Lead Pencil Studio, greets travelers as they cross from Canada into the United States.
Part of the 3-year modernization of the Peace Arch Land Port of Entry completed in 2011, the artwork is erected from small stainless steel rods in a way that creates the negative space of a billboard. While most billboards draw attention away from the landscape, Non-Sign II frames the landscape that inspired its artists and focuses attention back on it.
The Grand State of Maine, Van Buren Land Port of Entry, Van Buren, Maine
More than 3,500 miles to the east stands a life-sized bronze moose near the bridge across the St. John River to St. Leonard, New Brunswick. In the spring of 2008, snowmelt and heavy rain caused extensive flooding of the river, forcing more than 600 residents of northern Maine to evacuate their homes. In the town of Van Buren, where the river marks an international boundary, the flood also destroyed the land port that welcomed travelers from Canada. The rebuilt facility, has been an award-winning structure.
The Grand State of Maine first took shape, unadorned, in 1998 when Glenn Hines sculpted his homage to the comical and majestic creature. In August 2012 conceptual artist Nina Katchadourian purchased Hines’ moose, and the two teamed up to embellish it with everything Maine – including a few unofficial symbols – to pay tribute to its resident state.
Katchadourian sent Hines photographs of Maine’s emblems as she envisioned them affixed to the moose sculpture indicating the size and position of each one. Hines sculpted the emblems in clay, made rubber molds, cast them in bronze, then welded them onto his original work.
The Maine coon cat rides on the moose’s back and the tips of its antlers are perches for the state bird, the chickadee. Even though neither the lobster nor the potato has been designated an official state emblem by the Legislature, their popular association with Maine is acknowledged on the statue. A can of Moxie, the official state soda, rests on the bronze base supporting the statue and a leaping landlocked salmon, the official fish, jumps away from the moose’s front hoof. Other emblems represented around the base of the statue are the official state dessert (blueberry pie), treat (whoopie pie), flower (pine cone and tassel), insect (honeybee), fossil (pertica quadrifaria), herb (wintergreen) and mineral (tourmaline), which is surrounded by a ring of nautical rope.
Americans for the Arts selected The Grand State of Maine as one of 37 winners honored from among 340 total submissions for their 2014 Year in Review. The other Art in Architecture winner: Cliff Garten Studio’s Ribbons courtyard design at 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco.
An Album: Sewing into Borderlines, Mariposa Land Port of Entry, Nogales, Arizona
When the modernization and expansion project wraps up at the Mariposa Land Port of Entry later this month, pedestrians and drivers will be treated to more than new walkways and increased lanes.
Kimsooja gained notoriety in the mid 1990s following one of her most famous video-graphic pieces to date, Bottari Truck. Through subsequent combinations of performance, video and installation, the artist has further developed the abstract concept of bringing together people, cultures and civilizations.
Filmed in Nogales, Arizona in 2013, An Album: Sewing into Borderlines consists of silent video portraits of community members who live with the daily reality of commuting between both countries. The portraits show each individual in three different positions: facing the viewer, facing away, and turning back towards the viewer. These poses represent the individuals’ journeys through past, present and future.
“In these three distinctive postures I see both a physical and psychological borderline,” said Kimsooja in her final concept proposal. “I believe the Mariposa Land Port of Entry could serve as an example to bring cultural understanding and positive interaction between the two countries by sharing the emotions, memories, and aspirations we all have in our lives.”
The figures facing the camera suggest arrival/encounter, whereas those same figures facing away from the camera evoke departure/separation. The artist provoked the action of turning back towards the viewer by calling the name of each individual during filming, offering the opportunity to re-enter the memory of a reality left behind.
The new-media work of art and its position at the border crossing ask the viewers who pass beneath it to do the same – to look back over their shoulders and reflect on their own personal, interior journeys.
Metallic Cloud, Tornillo-Guadalupe Land Port of Entry, Tornillo, Texas
In border town Tornillo, Texas (population 1,568) SIMPARCH artists Steve Badgett and Matt Lynch propose to re-purpose a collection of rear- and side-view mirrors used on tractor-trailers and other large vehicles operating on the nation’s roadways. SIMPARCH, founded in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is an artist collective whose chosen name and artistic aims are to interrelate simple sustainable life and architecture.
Much like Kimsooja’s video album that exposes emotional and aspirational journeys taken at international border crossings, Badgett and Lynch have transformed these common, practical objects into an evocative sculpture that offers many potential meanings about the function of the port facility and ideas about crossing borders.
Yet to be named but likely to be titled Metallic Cloud when it is installed at the U.S. Land Port of Entry later this fall, the artwork resembles natural forms like tumbleweeds or clouds that convey movement and transformation. The sculpture will have no moving parts, but its appearance will change as light falls and shadows are cast upon it throughout the day.
In the artists’ words: “The intent of the work is to function on multiple levels: A convergence of elements that are drawn together at this remote, energized location where material goods and human energy become condensed for a time, then released to continue on their journey. As a formidable, amorphous form, it will capture and manipulate light, sparkling like a rough diamond when the sun is in full radiance.”
Nature and culture inspire Mariposa Land Port artworks [GSA.gov]
Great Lakes Region celebrates Art Appreciation Month [GSA.gov]
GSA’s Art & Architecture and Fine Arts Programs [GSA.gov]