Monday federal headlines – November 16, 2016

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

  • Federal employees are petitioning the White House to close the government on the day after Thanksgiving. A “We the People” petition started on Nov. 6  is asking President Barack Obama to make Nov. 27 a paid federal holiday this year. The request states employees have suffered years of little to no cost of living increase and faced other strains such as potential and real shutdowns. They said closing the federal government the day after Thanksgiving would help improve morale. The petition only has 18 signatures so far and needs 100,000 signatures by Dec. 6 for the White House to consider it. (White House)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers are pressing the Homeland Security Department for more details on its struggling IT modernization program for immigration forms. Six congressmen, led by committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), asked DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson for a briefing by Nov. 20. Lawmakers want to know why the Citizenship and Immigration Service’s program to modernize immigration forms is delayed and has cost more than $1 billion. Current cost estimates say DHS will end up spending more than $3 billion to complete the project by 2019.
    Johnson responded to a Washington Post story on the program by issuing a statement highlighting progress since November 2014, including a rebuilt system. DHS said about 16 percent of all immigration processing is digital, and the agency is on track to add new forms that will increase that total to 41 percent by the end of 2016. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter has fired a top military aide after allegations of misconduct surfaced. Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis was removed from his job last Thursday. Defense officials could not comment on the details of the allegations because of privacy law. In a statement, Carter said the Army may take appropriate action against Lewis once the inspector general completes its investigation. (Associated Press)
  • The  Veterans Affairs inspector general said the agency could do a better job preparing facilities for earthquakes. The IG said the VA did not effectively identify earthquake risks for 15 of 97 essential buildings located in high seismic zones. They recommended management officials implement procedures to improve seismic risks in VA buildings. (VA OIG)
  • The Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department and the Coast Guard should inspect their programs aimed at recruiting more female officers. A new study shows an overall increase in female officer accession rates, with the Coast Guard having the highest increase. However, the office recommends the agencies put oversight framework in place to review recruitment initiatives. (GAO)
  • The Postal Service ended the fiscal year with a $5 billion net loss. It’s the ninth straight year of billion-dollar losses for USPS. Revenue is up about 1.5 percent, at nearly $69 billion. Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan said the agency needs legislative reform so it can learn from the private sector and stay a competitor in the package delivery business. (Federal News Radio)

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