Tuesday federal headlines – September 15, 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.

  • A Republican presidential candidate’s call to end labor unions for federal employees is drawing fury from his targets. The National Treasury Employees Union said Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is declaring war on the middle class. The head of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox, called Walker’s comments an act of desperation as he sinks in the polls. Walker rose to national fame by taking on his state’s public-sector unions. But even some of his Republican competitors said he’s gone too far. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said rather than treat union members like they’re the enemy, Republicans should invite them to give the party a try. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force will develop and field systems more quickly by making companies compete in design and development phases. Secretary Deborah Lee James said companies that can deliver results faster will have a competitive edge. This new “should schedule” program will work with the existing “should cost effort” meant to drive down system expenses. Officials say “should cost” has saved the Air Force $2 billion so far. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s watchdog continues to insist the agency is putting critical IT upgrades at risk. The inspector general said OPM is breaking federal acquisition rules by issuing a sole-source contract for the project. It said full and open competition is even more important now that former OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has resigned and the Senate has rejected OPM’s request for more money for the project. OPM largely disagreed with the assessment. It said the sole-source contractor for the project, Imperatis, will work on the plan’s third and fourth phases in a limited capacity, not for all four stages of the project. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House invested more than $160 million in federal research for technology collaborations to help local communities in its Smart Cities initiative. As part of the program, the Department of Homeland Security is planning to invest $50 million to develop emergency response technologies. The National Science Foundation invested $35 million in grants to develop Internet application prototypes, support improvements in infrastructure design and research on-demand transportation. Smart Cities is reflected in the President’s Science and Technology Priorities memo from this July. (White House)
  • The FBI needs a new chief information officer. Jerry Pender has left the bureau after three years as its top IT executive. Pender is joining the Z Capital Group, an investment-management firm. He’ll be the  managing director and operating partner. Kevin Deeley is the FBI deputy CIO, but it’s unclear if he will be the acting CIO until a new one is named. (PR Newswire)
  • A key lawmaker wants to know whether military intelligence analysts painted too rosy a picture of the campaign against Islamic State militants. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he wants to know how the Defense Department’s analysis and data collection drive the final products that are reviewed by senior civilian and military officials. Chaffetz asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Inspector General Jon Rymer for a briefing by Friday. The Defense Intelligence Agency director, Gen. Vincent Stewart, called the analytical process “rough and tumble” with disagreements. He said the intelligence community takes pride in speaking truth to power. (House Oversight Committee)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department probably won’t get rid of its backlog of benefits claims by the end of the year as it’s promised. The VA inspector general cited many unplanned changes to the Veterans Benefits Management System and its business requirements. The system now costs $1.3 billion more than double its price tag in 2009. It was supposed to help the VA process 98 percent of its claims accurately and eliminate the backlog. (Veterans Affairs)

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