House Oversight Committee looks to further whistleblower protection for contractors

In today's Top Federal Headlines, the House Oversight Committee introduce bill to further whistleblower protections for contractors, and the Pentagon updates it...

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

  • Congress may be on vacation, but members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are keeping busy. Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chairman Jason Chafetz (R-Utah) unveiled legislation to expand whistleblower protections for subgrantees and personal services contractors. The committee also sent letters to 18 agencies requesting info on Hatch Act compliance. (Bill) (Letter)
  • Presidential transition planning has begun in the back office. Federal chief information officers are planning to give the next administration much greater insights into their agencies’ technology challenges and opportunities than ever before. Federal CIO Tony Scott is working through the CIO Council to ensure each CIO provides a contextual assessment of where they are when it comes to modernizing IT. Scott said he wants CIOs to outline their current challenges and initiatives as part of a road map for the future. Scott said leaving behind an empty white board with no plan for the future would be very bad.
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said veterans receiving care from an outside provider under the Project ARCH pilot program will still be able to continue to do so even though the project is ending Aug. 7. Participants will be transitioned to the Veterans Choice Program. Project ARCH currently operates in a handful of states including Virginia. (Veterans Affairs Department)
  • The $58 billion round of TRICARE contracts eliminates the north and south regions that had served most of the eastern U.S. They’ll merge into a new TRICARE East which will handle most states east of the Mississippi River plus Texas. The Pentagon awarded that contract to Humana, the west region goes to Health Net Federal Services, the TRICARE vendor that currently handles most military health care north of the Mason-Dixon line. But both contracts are likely to be protested by losing bidders. Two in the case of the west and three in the east. (Federal News Radio)
  • Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus ordered the implementation of the Full and Inclusive Review or FAIR Program. It calls for the Navy, Marine Corps and Navy’s civilian workforce to use a what is commonly called a 360-degree review process for all military and civilian supervisors. Mabus said these reviews would help future leaders grow and hone their skills. (Navy)
  • The FBI doesn’t have an objective way to review and prioritize cyber threats, according to the Justice Department Inspector General. The FBI has an annual process to identify cyber threats and direct resources to them, but the IG said the process is subjective and open to interpretation. The FBI goes through the process once a year. The IG said the annual review might not enough to find cyber threats and respond to them. (Department of Justice Office of Inspector General)
  • Development contractors will get a chance to prove their agile chops next week. The EPA invited vendors to an industry day focused on its forthcoming agile software development services blanket purchase agreement. The confab is set for Wednesday, July 27,  at 12:30 p.m. But contractors shouldn’t get their hopes up for a chance to hard sell. EPA plans to conduct the event as what it calls an open style forum. No one-on-one interactions. (Eventbrite)
  • Small businesses looking for federal research and development funding now have a tool to help guide them during their search. The Small Business Administration launched online tutorials to help businesses navigate its Small Business Innovation Research program. The training platform includes courses on agency differences and registration requirements. (Small Business Administration)
  • The Pentagon updated its 2015 Law of War manual. It scraps the portion of it which compared certain activities of journalists to spying or hostile activities. The changes come after media organizations voiced concerns over them. DoD General Counsel Jennifer O’Connor said its aim is to “defend the very freedoms that journalists exercise.” (Defense Department)

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