White House unveils new way to chat with the President

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 White House has a new avenue for citizens to contact the President through Facebook Messenger.

  • You can now message the President on Facebook. The White House has unveiled a Facebook Messenger bot where citizens can send him a note. Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman said the new avenue is about creating opportunities for people to engage with the government in new and accessible ways. (The White House)
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency will be opening its new $100 million facility tasked with monitoring the country’s cyber infrastructure today. DISA’s Global Operations Command’s complex will also coordinate responses during cyber emergencies. It’s located at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. DISA said it will host the largest cyber operations center in the country. (Air Force)
  • The Air Force said its shortage of fighter pilots has reached crisis proportions, so it’s asking Congress for permission to offer new retention bonuses. The request from Deborah Lee James, the Air Force Secretary, came on the same day she announced $35,000 retention bonuses to keep drone pilots from leaving government service, a $20,000 boost from what the Air Force offered a year ago. Officials said they don’t have the same flexibility to retain fighter pilots. Their retention bonuses haven’t changed since 1999 and the Air Force expects a shortfall of 700 fighter pilots within the next few years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Department of the Interior has some areas of its cybersecurity that could be improved. The department’s inspector general releases a report in compliance with the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, saying DOI has implemented many security measures but it needs further enhancements. One area the IG suggests is ensuring its mobile devices are encrypted and securely configured. (Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General)
  • Here’s a change: A federal agency receives a good review by auditors for its cybersecurity efforts. The Inspector General at the General Services Administration found the agency is meeting nearly all governmentwide standards and policies to secure its most critical systems. Every federal IG is reviewing agency cyber efforts as required by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. GSA’s IG said the use of two-factor authentication, software inventory controls and data loss prevention tools give the agency a solid cyber footing. (General Services Administration Office of Inspector General)
  • Career executives who don’t have a specific job on their agency’s transition team can and should play a part in the upcoming presidential transition. The Senior Executives Association has put out a new handbook on how to best prepare for the change in administration. SEA gathered advice from successful Senior Executive Service members on lessons learned from previous transitions. Roughly half of the current SES corps has never experienced a transition before. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new rule proposed by the Defense Department looks to change how it decides purchases. DoD said the amendments to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement would provide clarifications to help contracting officer ensure consistency and uniformity in the acquisition process. They implement sections of the 2016 and 2013 National Defense Authorization Acts. (Federal Register)
  • It’s only a third of a million, but these wasted dollars seem to sum up VA’s construction problems. Nothing, it seems, is too small to escape the VA inspector general. A whistleblower alerted the IG to a purchase of 300 television sets for $311,000 for its facility in Detroit. But, they didn’t fit the remodeled patient rooms where they were supposed to hang. The upshot: The TVs are still in storage. VA bought them in September 2013. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)
  • A former agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives has agreed to pay $40,000 back to the government after it accused him of submitting false claims for paid sick leave. While Douglas daCosta said he was receiving treatment for cancer, the Justice Department said he was actually working another job in the private sector. (Department of Justice)



*Correction: An earlier version of this page described the Veterans Affairs facility in Detroit as the Detroit Medical Center. The John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit is the facility mentioned in the report, not the Detroit Medical Center which is a separate facility.*