Friday federal headlines – September 18, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows. Our headlines are updated twice per day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon — with the latest news affecting federal employees and contractors.

  • One of the Defense Department’s top budget officials said a long-term continuing resolution would ruin military modernization plans. Jamie Morin, director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, said if Congress opts for a continuing resolution, DoD’s modernization efforts would fall $38 billion short of the fiscal 2016 Defense budget request. Most of that money is slated for projects in cyber, guided munitions and nuclear deterrence. DoD officials said those investments are needed to stay ahead of rivals like China and Russia. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Health and Human Services Ignite Accelerator will accept more teams in the upcoming fifth round of its program. Program manager Read Holman said the goal is to bring on 24 teams this time, instead of the previous cap of 12. The program has been in high demand since it launched as part of the HHS Idea Lab about two years ago. The Accelerator lets HHS employees submit ideas to help them do their jobs better. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new approach to federal hiring overcame a major hurdle in Congress. The Senate passed the Competitive Service Act, which would let agencies review and select job candidates from other agencies’ “best qualified list” of applicants. Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) is sponsoring the bill. He said this approach would cut down on duplication for applicants who have already undergone a competitive assessment process and are certified as eligible for selection. Currently, agencies that have similar hiring needs cannot share applicant information with one another. The House still must pass the bill. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced a companion bill in June, but it hasn’t moved out of committee. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • President Barack Obama and top Democrat leaders agree that a short-term, clean continuing resolution is the best way forward to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1. The President met with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday, to ensure they were on the same page as the end of the federal fiscal year nears. Obama, Reid and Pelosi also discussed the importance of securing a long-term transportation deal, renewing the Ex-IM bank charter and other priority investments. Obama reiterated that threats by some Republicans to shut down the government and eliminate health care services is a game of chicken that they cannot accept.
  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter will host a workplace talk with Facebook’s chief operating officer and female members of the military next Monday. The talk will give Carter an opportunity to listen to women’s challenges in the workplace. The event is part of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean-In” non-profit, aimed at supporting women in the work environment. The event is especially apt since Carter has been courting big Silicon Valley corporations to work with the Defense Department. (DoD)
  • Employees at the Census Bureau’s Hiring and Employment Check Office reported more than 19,000 hours of time they didn’t actually work. The Commerce Inspector General said the time and attendance discrepancy costs the government more $1 million. Some relationships with CHEC Office employees, and the contractors that work for them, violate federal law. The IG said some CHEC Office employees tried to intimidate witnesses and interfere with the OIG’s investigation. (OIG)
  • The Pentagon wants a private cloud vendor to take what may well be the world’s largest email system off its hands and do to it for half of what it’s spending now. DoD released a request for information this week as part of its planning process for a 2.0 version of its enterprise email system. It’s asking vendors for their ideas on how to transition the service, from a government-operated one into a commercial cloud environment. The Pentagon said it wants just the basics — email and calendaring services. But the winning vendors will need to support at least 2 million users around the world, and potentially up to 4.6 million. They’ll also need to deliver helpdesk services, continue to support DoD’s two-factor authentication systems and help with the inevitable complications involved in a transition from a government-operated IT service.