Defense Department says no to reducing housing allowance for dual military couples

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

  • The Defense Department shot down a recommendation to reduce basic housing allowance for dual military couples. An Army audit recommended cutting housing benefits for couples who both served in the military and had a dependent, potentially saving more than $50 million. DoD says it doesn’t want to penalize married service members. (Federal News Radio)
  • Service members and their families affected by planned defense medical spending cuts may have their care transferred to the military’s TRICARE contractor network. Law360 reports the Senate adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow military members and their families to receive care not covered after military medical spending is reduced, covered as part of TRICARE’s purchased coverage plans. (Law 360)
  • The Army is telling it commanders it’s time to do away with the practice of use-it-or-lose-it budgeting. In a directive set to take effect on July 1, the Army is telling all of its major commands that they can’t cut a program’s funding simply because it did not spend all of its funds in the previous year. Headquarters officials said commanders also need to find ways to reward offices that don’t spend all of their money, including by letting them reallocate those funds within their own portfolios. The Army said its inspector general will follow up with audits to ensure that the ban on use-or-lose policies is actually being followed. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General released a report finding DHS does not have any policies managing off-duty conduct while abroad. Also, the Defense Department said sailors stationed in Japan are under an alcohol ban after one was arrested for a drunken driving accident there that injured two people. (DHS Office of Inspector General) (Department of Defense)
  • An exclusive Federal News Radio survey found 45 percent of feds don’t feel their agency is better prepared for cyber attacks than a year ago, when the big OPM data breach occurred. Only one in four respondents said they were confident their management understands cyber risks. (Federal News Radio)
  • It’s taking the Veterans Affairs Department too long to set up contracts with university-affiliated hospitals, schools,and practices. The Government Accountability Office said it took VA three years to develop and award 11 sole source affiliate contracts for three VA medical centers. GAO said most of VA’s contracting officers are inexperienced with medical sharing contracts. The department also doesn’t have a strategy to recruit and train new contracting officers. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a final rule for overhauling how it pays certain providers. The rule is the final touch in a running program to shift from a purely fee-for-service payment model. CMS officials want to get more providers on a shared savings model under which networks of providers collaborate to improve patient outcomes. The new rule phases in a way of calculating what those payments should be to so-called accountable care organizations. (Federal Register)
  • Kevin Smith is shifting bureaus within the Department of Commerce to become the new associate director for information technology and chief information officer at the Census Bureau. Smith comes to Census after having spent the last three years as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s chief information security officer. Census hires Smith to replace Brian McGrath who left the agency in July. Smith comes on board as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to review the readiness of the 2020 count on Thursday. (Census Bureau)
  • The Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency is looking for candidates to operate an MBDA Federal Procurement Center Project. It aims to help minority owned businesses find and secure contracts as well as create and retain jobs. The project comes with $2.5 million in potential funding. Applications are due by July 1. (Minority Business Development Agency)

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