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 released this year’s Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Plans, detailing what progress agencies have made in becoming more environmentally friendly.
Agencies appear to be “greener” than ever. The White House release of the Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Plans said the government has cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18% since 2008. Energy use in federal facilities dropped 15%. (The White House)
The White House has also handed out prizes in this year’s GreenGov Presidential Awards. The program recognized civilian and military personnel and projects aimed at meeting the administration’s environmental goals. Health and Human Services won the Ripple Effect Award for installing charge stations for electric cars. (The White House)
The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted to subpoena the VA. It asked for documents showing the department’s spending on artwork over the past six years, as well as documents on the VA’s internal review of the failed Aurora, Colorado construction project. Building for a new medical center in the Denver suburb went over budget by $1 billion, and is a year behind schedule. Committee Chairman Jeff Miller said he has 176 outstanding requests for information at the VA. He said it takes the department 80 days on average to respond to one of his requests. (Federal News Radio)
How would Trump or Clinton manage one of the biggest federal bureaucracies – Veterans Affairs? Republican candidate Donald Trump, in a Virginia speech, promised what amounts to an expansion of the Veterans Choice Program. He said wherever a vet goes for health care outside of VA, the government would cover the cost. Democract Hillary Clinton, in a TV appearance, promised higher VA funding, with an emphasis on mental care.
Congress must lighten the workloads of agency inspectors general by mandating fewer routine reports. And it must ensure IG offices have the money they need to do the important investigations. That’s according to the Partnership for Public Service, which polled 70 inspectors general. The IG’s said the next president should focus on filling vacant IG positions. (Partnership for Public Service)
Federal IGs have joined together to promote privacy in their record-keeping. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency suggested new procedures for more closely following the Privacy Act. The proposed rule lays out specific standards of conduct. (Federal Register)
The Pentagon’s inspector general said his office hasn’t been able to keep up with mounting numbers of whistleblower reprisal claims – and blames a lack of funding. The IG took an average of 300 days to close whistleblower reprisal investigations last year. That’s down from more than 500 days the year before, but way beyond the target that Congress set in statute, which calls for IG’s to finish investigations in 180 days. Glenn Fine, the Acting Inspector General said the delays have to do with the fact that the IG’s budget has not grown in proportion to the overall defense workforce. If it had, he said he would have another 500 employees on the IG’s payroll. As of right now, 50 people are assigned to the whistleblower reprisal office. (Federal News Radio)
The Defense Department is considering a new iteration of its purchasing reform program, to be known as Better Buying Power 4.0. But Frank Kendall, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said he’ll need to be in his job next year for that to happen. He added his next focus would be on reducing sustainment costs. (Federal News Radio)
One of the key systems for security clearance processing is going to get a makeover. The Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing system, known as e-QIP, is getting help from digital services experts. The Office of Personnel Management has enlisted expertise from GSA’s 18F organization to develop a prototype to replace the 13-year-old system. 18F issued a solicitation September 6th through its agile development blanket purchase agreement. OPM and 18F want a contractor to build a front-end software application prototype of the e-QIP system using a modern technology stack, digitizing Standard Form 86 and importing existing data through an API. (Github)