Friday federal headlines – November 13, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive.

  • The Veterans Affairs Department wants veterans who are still waiting for urgent care to come to their local health centers Saturday. Physicians, administrators and volunteers plan to comb through unresolved requests for appointments in a one-day “stand down.” Requests open because of clerical errors will be closed. But veterans who need care but haven’t gotten it will be scheduled immediately. The stand-down is a first for the health system. It’s an attempt to prioritize the backlog of appointment requests. (Veterans Affairs)
  • The Peace Corps contract to put its email in the cloud is on hold. The Government Accountability Office sustained the bid protest of Onix Networking Corporation. GAO ruled that the Peace Corps wrongly modified a delivery order to En Pointe Gov to include email-as-a-service. The Peace Corps added email in the cloud to a delivery order for Microsoft enterprise licenses. Onix argued that the agency should’ve gone out with an entirely new procurement. GAO agreed and recommended the Peace Corps release a new solicitation. (GAO)
  • The Social Security Administration met one payment accuracy target within the past five years. SSA’s Inspector General said the smallest mistake in the agency’s overall process can lead to an improper payment. The IG said Social Security should look at its own data more often to find out whether a beneficiary might be ineligible for specific benefits. It also suggests the agency work with a third party to look at how it can prevent the wrong payments from going out to the wrong people. (SSA OIG)
  • Social media has become a big part of presidential campaigns. An updated guide from the Office of Special Counsel said federal employees don’t have to sit on the sidelines for fear of violating the Hatch Act. That’s the law that prohibits feds from leveraging their positions to help partisan candidates. The OSC said it’s OK to put a candidate’s logo or photo at the top of your Facebook profile page. It’s even OK to put it as your profile picture, as long as you do not use social media on the job. You can accept a Facebook invitation to a fundraiser. You cannot share it with anyone, however. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s cybersecurity has been downgraded back to a material weakness. The inspector general released its top management challenges and found the agency’s cybersecurity situation got worse. Auditors said  23 of 47 systems are operating in the production environment without a valid cyber authorization. This is an increase from 11 of 47 in 2014. The IG said  OPM is moving in the right direction but a mature continuous monitoring environment is still five years away. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new study said the Defense Department can be doing more to harness the Internet of Things. A report said DoD needs to enable technologies and contract companies that provide Web-based services to increase its Internet of Things usage. The Internet of Things is the connection of everyday objects to the Web. Once connected, those objects can collect data and be operated remotely. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s $20 million contract to Winvale Group and subcontractor CSID violated the Federal Acquisition Regulation. That’s according to OPM’s Inspector General, who wrote to Acting Director Beth Cobert with a summary of top management challenges. OPM awarded the contract as a blanket purchase agreement for identity theft protection to victims of the agency’s first cyber attack back in June. The IG says OPM used the wrong contracting vehicle. The full report from the IG will likely come out next month. (Federal News Radio)

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