Thursday federal headlines – February 4, 2016

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

  • A powerful House lawmaker has issued a subpoena to get documents from the Office of Personnel Management related to the massive federal employee data breach. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is demanding acting OPM Director Beth Cobert turn over information about the agency’s cybersecurity efforts. Chaffetz said OPM is not cooperating with the committee’s investigation into the stolen data of more than 21 million current and former federal employees. The committee has made five document requests since July. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The Senate Budget Committee praised the Senate Armed Services Committee for showing fiscal responsibility. The armed services committee was the only committee in the Senate to reduce mandatory spending last year. The committee also reduced mandatory spending by $1 billion over a 10-year period. Nine of the 16 Senate authorizing committees are in compliance with their spending allocations. (Senate Budget Committee)
  • The Social Security Administration wants your help in making its data more accessible to spur innovation. SSA is asking for input on the next update on its open government plan. Among the topics SSA wants help with ideas about what data it needs to improve or make public that could result in new uses or a better understanding of its programs. It also wants to know which agencies SSA should collaborate more with, what new initiatives to consider and how to improve its public engagement. (SSA)
  • The Defense Department is realigning its Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Agency under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The Threat Defeat Agency was established last year to deal with threats like improvised explosive devices. DoD is realigning the office in response to the 2016 defense authorization act, which prohibits it from being a stand-alone office. The Threat Defeat Agency director said the realignment will not change the scope, focus, mission or customers of the agency. (DTRA)
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Katrina McFarland is now serving as the acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, technology and logistics. McFarland is taking the place of Heidi Shyu who retired in January, until a replacement is nominated and confirmed. McFarland will keep her role in the Pentagon while working for the Army. McFarland has previously served as the president of the Defense Acquisition University and as director for acquisition at the Missile Defense Agency.
  • President Barack Obama will propose a 1.6  percent pay raise for military and civilian federal personnel. An administration official confirmed that the proposed increase will be included in the President’s budget. The President is scheduled to present his budget on Feb. 9. The announcement comes roughly two months after the President signed an executive order for a 1.3  percent pay raise for federal and military workers. In November, Obama also backed locality pay increases for civilian federal employees in 2016. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal union members could see some big changes to way their organizations collect dues and vote for representation if a new bill from House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) passes. The Federal Employee Rights Act would prohibit agencies from collecting union dues from employees’ paychecks. It would also require a 50 percent majority before a group of employees could vote to consider union representation. Current law requires 30 percent. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. David Vitter is threatening to stall the nomination of acting Office of Personnel Management Director Beth Cobert over a special exemption given to members of Congress in the Affordable Care Act. He’s asking for more information on a final rule OPM published more than two years ago. The rule lets members of Congress buy health insurance from a small business exchange. Vitter wants to know why OPM is claiming Congress as a small business when it has more than 16,000 employees. Cobert goes before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for her nomination hearing today. (Federal News Radio)
  • A former Defense Department comptroller is warning Congress about creeping operating and sustainment costs in acquisition programs.  Robert Hale told lawmakers program sustainment costs have increased by twenty percent since 2000. Hale said part of the problem is program managers are more worried about acquisition costs than future costs. Hale told Congress to hold more hearings on the issue and to use more reporting requirements to rein in sustainment spending. (Federal News Radio)

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