Wednesday federal headlines – January 20, 2016

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

  • Agencies have new requirements as they begin developing their fiscal 2018 budget requests. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) included them in the 2016 spending bill. The provision tells agencies to show how program performance metrics are tied to priority goals. Agencies should estimate how these proposed investments will contribute to greater progress in meeting a host of measures around outcomes, outputs, efficiencies and customer service. OMB has six months to report back to the Congress on how agencies are improving the use of performance measures in the budgeting process. (Rep. Henry Cuellar)
  • The Office of Special Counsel saw double-digit increases in two main categories of complaints filed by federal employees in fiscal 2015. OSC said in its 2015 Performance and  Accountability Report that whistleblower complaints of alleged government wrongdoing rose 26 percent. Complaints of prohibited personnel practices rose 20 percent. Overall, OSC received 17 percent more cases in 2015 than in the year before. It topped 6,000 complaints for the first time.  Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner attributes most of the increase to problems at the Veterans Affairs Department. (OSC)
  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is asking the Office of Personnel Management for the results of a recent governmentwide review of the federal security clearance process. The results of the 90-day study were supposed to be done in October. Tester said he met with OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert to talk about security clearance reform and the status of the administration’s review. There’s no word yet on when those results will be out. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • FEMA is considering charging local governments deductibles before it will provide disaster assistance after authorization by a presidential declaration. FEMA officials said the new fees will create stronger incentives for local governments to do more to reduce their risk from disasters. (Federal Register)
  • The Defense Department established a new climate change adaptation policy. It will likely affect pretty much everyone in the department. The policy requires DoD to continuously assess the effects of climate change on missions and plans. The directive named the assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment as the person in charge of climate change adaptation. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force said it has a new firewall to protect it against cyber attacks. Three years ago, the Air Force said it would point more of its institutional attention and funding toward cyber by officially declaring some of its cyber programs to be weapons systems. On Tuesday, in what officials said was a major milestone, they said they’d done that by declaring full operational capability on the Air Force’s first cyber “weapon.” The system is called Air Force Intranet Control. Officials said it will handle the flow of all data both between its bases and to and from the outside Internet through a system of 16 central gateways.
  • Concerned about safety of electronic medical devices, the Food and Drug Administration called on makers to pay more attention to cybersecurity of them. It issued draft guidance, outlining steps it thinks device makers should take to continuously guard against cyber weaknesses. Associate Director Suzanne Schwartz said any device connected to a health care network should get a cyber update when it goes in for maintenance, and that device makers should share information.
  • The Social Security Administration is looking for a cloud service provider to link internal and external cloud-computing instances. SSA issued a request for information asking vendors to offer insights into how they would provide a platform-as-a-service cloud environment. The private cloud would provide a single point of administration for a host of services including data management, version control of software and user permissions. SSA said the new cloud platform will help developers publish datasets and apps. Responses to the RFI are due Jan. 29.

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