Friday federal headlines – January 22, 2016

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

  • Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), the senior deputy majority whip, introduced legislation requiring the Office of Personnel Management to submit an annual report to Congress listing use of “official time” by federal employees. He said OPM has little accountability for the use of time given to a federal employee to perform union activities, and that it costs taxpayers around $157 million each year. (Rep. Dennis Ross)
  • The Office of Personnel Management has decided to close federal offices in the D.C. metro area at noon today because of the snow storm. It’s expected to produce up to 30 inches of snow. Baltimore federal offices will also close at noon. Federal employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework, but those who report to their worksites should depart four hours earlier than normal. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federally Employed Women has released what the group calls encouraging results for its scorecard of the first session of the 114th Congress. It noted exponential growth in 90-percent and perfect scores for lawmakers. The organization said Congress compromised on funding bills and also heard the requests from FEW members to co-sponsor several bills. (FEW)
  • A new rule is being proposed to stop funds from going to contracts whose awardees force their employees to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from reporting waste, fraud or abuse to government officials. It would require each offerer, in order to be eligible for award, represent that it does not require employees or subcontractors to sign or comply with such internal confidentiality agreements. (Federal Register)
  • The Postal Service said it’s long overdue for some kind of legislative reform. USPS posted its ninth consecutive billion-dollar loss in 2015. It’s pushing Congress to get rid of a mandate requiring the agency to pre-pay its retirees’ health care at a cost of more than a $100 billion. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said the Postal Service should fully integrate its employees into Medicare, since they contribute to Medicare in their paychecks already. (Federal News Radio)
  • The nominee for Army Secretary said he wants to speed up acquisition reform. While facing the Senate Armed Services Committee for a confirmation hearing, Eric Fanning said the Army needs a Rapid Capabilities Office to expedite the fielding of critically needed weapons. Fanning told the Senate panel, the areas in most need are electronic warfare, cyber and positioning. Fanning also said he is concerned that only one-third of the Army brigade combat teams are ready for a significant land battle. (Federal News Radio)
  • She knew there was a severe problem, and didn’t do anything about it. Now EPA Region 5 Director Susan Hedman has resigned, effective Feb. 1. Hedman learned from Michigan last April that water managers in Flint weren’t properly treating water they were pumping from the Flind river. Now the EPA, under an emergency directive, ordered Flint officials to improve water treatment. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new way to buy cloud computing services is coming. The General Services Administration wants to make it easier for agencies to buy cloud computing services. To that end, GSA is developing a new multiple award contract that will bring together all the lessons learned over the last five years. GSA issued a request for information last year and now is sharing its business case with other agencies for approval. The draft request for proposals for this new cloud computing services contract is expected in late 2016.

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