VA Commission on Care releases long list of recommendations

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

  • House lawmakers fold several bills targeting disciplinary procedures for the Senior Executive Service into one. The House passes the Government Reform and Improvement Act. It extends the same expedited removal process that senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department have under the Choice Act to all members of the SES. The President says he will veto it if it passes the Senate. The bill would also extend the probationary period for all federal employees from one to two years. (Federal News Radio)
  • A congressionally appointed panel recommends a total VA overhaul. The Commission on Care, in its final set of recommendations, would keep the Veterans Health Administration as a federal agency. But just about everything else would change. The commission’s seventeen recommendations would establish a new health care system of local provider networks. It would improve veteran access with more staffing. And it would redesign most of the VHA internals, including information technology, finance, and capital planning. (VA Commission on Care) Read Tom Temin’s article for more details.
  • Civilians could replace 80 thousand military personnel in current active-duty positions. The Congressional Budget Office says that’s if all military branches use the same mix of the service branch with the smallest percentage of military personnel. The CBO says transferring civilians into those jobs could cut costs and increase the Defense Department’s warfighting focus. (Congressional Budget Office)
  • Veterans and members of the Armed Forces could find themselves working with historical artifacts. President Obama signs a bill which requires the Army Corps of Engineers to setup a program to hire them to assist in curating and historic preservation activities. (The White House)
  • The federal government has trouble knowing how much space it’s paying rent on. The Government Accountability Office finds, agencies with authority to lease property without the oversight of the General Services Administration cause information gaps in the federal office space inventory. GAO also says knowing the aggregate purchasing power give GSA better leverage to obtain lower rents. (Federal News Radio)
  • GSA wants feedback on its plan to publicly release transactional data reported under its new rule requiring vendors to submit monthly reports containing it. GSA says it will factor in comments when deciding what it can make public under the Freedom of Information Act. So far it plans to only withhold data on the number of items sold and price paid per unit. (Federal Register)
  • U.S. factories making goods for the military took a hit in May. Military aircraft orders saw a 35% drop during the month. That’s in addition to a drop in orders for military communications and navigation equipment. The AP reports that the declines suggests U.S. manufacturers have yet to fully recover from the weaker economic growth worldwide. The drop in military orders comes as demand in overall U.S. factory orders dipped in May. Other areas that saw less interest in buyers were steel, aluminum, furniture, and electrical appliances. U.S. factories did see a greater demand for motor vehicles and machinery. (Associated Press)
  • Another technology company’s wallet is a little bit lighter. The Justice Department continues to rack up wins under the False Claims Act. The latest, En Pointe Gov. It agreed to pay almost $6 million to settle claims that it falsely represented itself as a small business in order to get set-aside contracts over a four year period. The government also alleges En Pointe Gov filed false quarterly reports with the General Services Administration between 2008 and 2015. It allegedly underreported sales made under a GSA schedule to avoid paying more fees back to the government. En Pointe won more than $74 million in contracts in fiscal 2015, according to the USASpending.gov website. (Department of Justice)
  • The National Institutes of Health dishes out 55 million dollars in awards to help launch President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. The project looks to update the way the nation treats and prevents diseases. The awards will support a Data and Research Support Center along with a network of Healthcare Provider Organizations. (National Institutes of Health)