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, a new report shows that while some agencies are improving, the federal government still ranks among the worst for customer experience.
The government apparently has a near monopoly on poor customer experience. Forrester Researcher released its 2016 Customer Experience Index, which said the 15 federal agencies and programs it looked at all scored lower than any of the private-sector industries it studied. Analysts said agencies aren’t focusing on the right components of customer experience, but added improvement is possible. For instance, the IRS’s score jumped 5 points from last year’s. (Forrester Research)
The Army and the Defense Department have taken steps to replace legacy communication networks. They will issue a request for proposals for unified communications on internet protocols. Unified means voice, video, messaging and text can run on a single infrastructure. Officials said they plan to make an award by the end of 2017. A similar effort was delayed in 2015. (Federal News Radio)
The Defense Department has appointed 18 people to serve on yet another panel to review government acquisition, but this one’s a bit different. What’s known as the Section 809 panel has its work cut out for it. Over the next two years, it’s supposed to look at every single acquisition regulation that applies to DoD, figure out where it came from and whether it needs to be changed or abolished entirely. The panel is exempt from usual open government laws, so much of its work may be done in secret. It’ll be chaired by Diedre Lee, who formerly led the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and DoD’s own procurement policy office. Current or former government officials comprise the remaining 16 members of the group. (Federal News Radio)
IT acquisition innovation experts have taken notice, there is a job with your name on it. The Office of the Federal Procurement Policy said it wants to hire an acquisition innovation expert as part of its effort to change the way agencies buy IT. In a job posting on USAJobs.gov, OFPP listed a two-year position at the GS-13 to 15 level for an expert to facilitate modern policies and practices. Among their job duties, this expert will work with agencies to build or strengthen internal skills, support the Acquisition Innovation Advocates Council and capture government-wide best practices. Applications for the job are due Sept. 15. (USAJobs)
Housing and Urban Development said it will miss its deadline to comply with the DATA Act, according to HUD’s inspector general. The IG cited indecision, lack of resources and inconsistent management. The DATA act requires agencies to report spending in a standardized way by May of 2017. (Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General)
Congress will hear from some of the members of the VA Commission on Care for the first time later this week about their suggestions to improve veterans health care. Commission leaders will testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. This comes as both President Obama and VA Secretary Bob McDonald give formal responses to the commission’s recommendations. The administration said it agrees with all but three of the group’s 18 suggestions. (Federal News Radio)
With the recent flooding in Louisiana costing the state billions of dollars, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has eased rules on hardship withdrawals for victims. Participants looking to make hardship withdrawls will need to write “Louisiana Storms” at the top of the form. Distributions must occur before Jan. 17, 2017 to qualify. (Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board)
It’s high election season. Federal contractors need to remember some important no-nos. Blank Rome attorneys have reminded contractors, above all, don’t use company funds to make political contributions. They also said government funds can’t be used for the purpose of lobbying. And during the political season, when agency staff might turn over, they remind everyone to remember the rules about gifts and gratuities. It’s a good idea for managers to make sure everyone in the company knows the dos and don’ts. (Blank Rome)
President Obama must have liked what he saw when he attended the South by Southwest festival earlier this year. The White House announced it will be holding its own technology and arts festival called South by South Lawn on Oct. 3. It will be comprised of three parts: interactive, film, and music. Nominations for attendance are due by Sept. 10. (The White House)