FCC to shut down nearly a dozen field offices in 2017

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

In today’s Top Federal Headlines, the Federal Communications Commission says it will shutdown nearly a dozen of its regional office locations in January 2017.

  • The Federal Communications Commission has said it will close 11 of its regional field offices in January 2017. Inside Radio reports the announcement comes after the FCC reached an agreement with the National Treasury Employees union about how the downsizing of staff members will proceed. The shuttered offices include its Philadelphia and Norfolk, Virginia locations. (Inside Radio)
  • Five Agriculture Department offices, including its Beltsville, Maryland location, reopened today with enhanced security after receiving anonymous email threats. Two locations in Connecticut and West Virginia remained closed to give time for proper security measures to be put in place. USDA said it’s working with the FBI to to assess the seriousness of the threats. (Federal News Radio)
  • After the Justice Department said it will begin phasing out its use of private prisons, the Homeland Security Department wants to reevaluate its use of them. Secretary Jeh Johnson asked the Homeland Security Advisory Council to review how DHS uses private facilities as immigration detention centers and determine if the practice should be eliminated. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • It’s been a year since the Pentagon’s inspector general warned the Defense Department about thousands of examples of travel card abuse totaling more than a million dollars, and DoD’s done very little to address the problem. For a follow-up audit, the IG decided to focus on a sample of 30 of the worst abusers of charge cards at casinos and strip clubs. DoD had only reported two of them to security clearance adjudicators. None had been fired. One employee continued to rack up more than 30,000 in personal charges, but no one noticed because he changed jobs four times in three years until DoD’s bank finally said no. In other cases, employees managed to use their government cards to withdraw cash at casinos months after retiring from the military. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agencies filled twice as many cybersecurity positions this year as last. That’s according to Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Beth Cobert. She said OPM has been working with agencies to help them re-think their recruiting strategies. OPM is also working on new policies that Cobert says will help agencies better attract new talent and support rotational opportunities in and out of the public sector. (Federal News Radio)
  • One of the contractors charged with protecting the data for federal employee background investigations received the good kind of surprise from the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general. Auditors said CACI is protecting sensitive data properly. The IG said CACI established a security management program and has implemented a wide variety of security tools, including logical access control. The IG found some challenges that the company is fixing, including adding more controls to audit user access privileges and ensure firewalls are configured properly. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • Between 1991 and 2013, the Social Security Administration paid benefits to 35 deceased federal employees or retirees for a total of $1.7 million paid out improperly. Overall though a new report from the agency’s inspector general said SSA’s payment to feds who had passed accounted for less than one-tenth of a percent of the total $932 billion in benefit payments made in that period. SSA and OPM are entering into a formal data sharing agreement to improve the process. (Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General)
  • The Defense authorization bill faces late passage for 2017. That would be a first in 50 years. President Obama has already threatened to veto it. Analyst Andrew Hunter said in his last year in office, Obama has no incentive to compromise. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Transportation Security Administration and its biggest union hit a new obstacle in contract talks. TSA has updated the ground rules for collective bargaining in place since 2011. That didn’t sit well with the American Federation of Government Employees. Union president J. David Cox accuses TSA of ignoring norms of labor law. TSA said not much has actually changed in terms of what can be negotiated. Union members rejected an agreement late last year. Their contract expires in October. (Federal News Radio)