Wednesday federal headlines – October 7, 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.

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate unethical behavior by employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefit Administration. The ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said Justice should open a case against VBA officials who approved 23 employees to receive $1.8 million in relocation funds in order to augment their Senior Executive Service salaries. The VA inspector general recently found VBA was using these funds as a loophole to give these employees a pay raise despite the White House’s decision to freeze SES salaries. Blumenthal said the Justice Department has been too often reluctant to prosecute wrong doers from VA. (Federal News Radio)
  • The debate over federal employees’ salaries is heating up again with a new report from the Cato Institute. The libertarian think tank estimates feds’ salary and benefits, on average, are 78 percent higher than in the private sector. Cato looked at data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis covering 17 public and private sector industries. The report said federal employees are the fourth-highest compensated workers in the country behind management consultant companies, utilities and mining firms. Cato said the government should relook at the benefits feds earn and reduce the overall size of the federal workforce. (Cato Institute)
  • The co-sponsors of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act said they expect their bill to reach the Senate floor after next week’s recess. Senate Select Intelligence Committee chairs Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said they’re open to changing the bill, as long as it doesn’t stray from the basic legislation. They’re adamant agencies and industry should share cyber threat information with the Homeland Security Department in real time. But industry has concerns about its liability and privacy. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department is setting up centers of excellence on buying commercial items. The department hopes the centers will eventually eliminate the need for pricing data. Pricing data verifies the cost of items bought from private companies is fair. Businesses said the data requirement is a burden and that market forces determine the prices are fair. (Federal News Radio)