Tuesday federal headlines – January 26, 2016

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

  • The Office of Inspector General for the EPA is looking into the agency’s response to the contamination of the city of Flint, Michigan’s community water system,  including the EPA’s exercise of its oversight authority. EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman resigned last week after contaminated water in that city exposed residents to lead poisoning. (EPA)
  • Another day off for federal workers in the D.C. Metro area. OPM heard from local governments and state and county transportation authorities Monday night and decided it best to wait one more day given overnight temperatures expected to be in the teens and roads going to freeze. As always, keep checking FederalNewsRadio.com for updates regarding tomorrow’s status. (Federal News Radio)
  • It pays to keep an eye on federal credit card usage patters. A recent audit of the IRS purchase card program found certain cases of misuse had been overlooked, including one employee buying a pair of tablet computers for $2,000. The same person made 37 questionable purchases at Amazon. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recommends the IRS tighten its oversight of employees with financial problems, and refer them for evaluation. (Treasury Department)
  • The Department of Transportation awards nearly $2 billion in contracts to seven maritime companies. They’ll crew and maintain a fleet of ships for use during emergency sealifts over the next eight years. Forty-six of the vessels are part of the DoT’s Ready Reserve Force, managed by the Maritime Administration. They provide rapid mass movement of Defense Department equipment and supplies, and also respond to national and humanitarian emergencies. (Transportation Department)
  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is placing a hold on Food and Drug Administration Commissioner nominee Dr. Robert Califf. He wants the FDA to overhaul its process for approving opioid painkillers. He said the FDA needs to commit to shift the way it approaches and evaluates addiction. (Sen. Ed Markey)
  • U.S. Strategic Command leader Adm. Cecil Haney said the Defense Department needs to come up with better ways of retaining services members in the nuclear forces. Haney said the military needs to do more to attract talent from the private sector. Recent studies suggest both the Air Force and the Navy have seen a drop in nuclear forces retention and recruitment. DoD has been trying to keep its retention and recruitment rates higher by implementing personnel reforms though the Force of the Future initiative. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department will handle the IT part of a new governmentwide project to improve the background investigation process. The Defense Information Systems Agency will build the system with guidance from DoD’s chief information officer. Officials say it will include encryption of data at-rest and in-transit — unlike the OPM system which gave up the records of more than 22 million Americans to foreign hackers. Also, DoD said it’s trying to minimize the number of records that are directly connected to the public internet. But there’s still no timeline for when the new system will be up and running. (Federal News Radio)
  • Fewer federal employees made hardship withdrawals from their Thrift Savings Plan accounts in 2015 than the year before. But more took age-based withdrawals. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said it’s trying to figure out why. The board also says more people participated in the TSP in 2015 than the year before. And the number of active duty military members enrolling in the TSP is increasing every month too.
  • Federal chief information officers say the budget planning process for technology projects needs a dramatic update. And the CIO Council is listening. CIOs said the Capital Planning and Investment Control or CPIC process doesn’t match up well with how agencies are using agile development for projects. The council met in December to decide how to bring the business case analysis and other requirements into the modern technology era. OMB is expected to release the new guidance for fiscal 2018 budget development in the June time-frame.

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