The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
President Barack Obama nominated Elizabeth Field as the Office of Personnel Management’s Inspector General. Field is currently a senior adviser in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the State Department. She worked four years with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. (The White House)
The Veterans Affairs Department is supporting a new Senate bill, which would update the veterans appeals process. It’s in line with the same proposal the VA introduced after it held several meetings with veterans service organizations to draw up a new plan together. VA Secretary Bob McDonald said he was thrilled to see the Senate take up the administration’s proposal. Senate VA Committee Chairman Richard Blumenthal introduced the bill. The bill has 11 other co-sponsors.
One senator is calling for mandatory floor time to debate appropriations and he’s renewed calls for a biennial budget. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) cited the 2016 projected deficit of $590 billion as a reason to curb Congress’ appetite. Enzi is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. (Federal News Radio)
The Postal Inspector General is taking on the mystery of the disappearing mail collection box. Since 2011, the Postal Service has removed 12,000 familiar blue mailboxes it said are little used. In its latest audit, the IG examined the box removal process in the eastern area and found it was not effective. Only 60 of the 6,000 underused boxes were removed. The IG recommended developing a more detailed method for measuring and tracking individual mailboxes. (U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General)
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board approved a 17 percent budget increase for next year. The increase will go to two major projects in 2017. The TSP board is preparing to support blended retirement when all new military members will auto-enroll in the TSP starting January 2018. The board also wants to upgrade its legacy IT systems. (Federal News Radio)
The Partnership for Public Service announced the winners of the this year’s Service to America Medals. A team of workers with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was recognized as Federal Employee of the Year for their initiative to increase patient safety. Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for the Energy Department, will receive the Career Achievement Medal. (Federal News Radio)
The Office of Management and Budget updated a key IT policy for the first time in more than a decade. Agency privacy officers are getting more authorities and responsibilities. A new memo from the Office of Management and Budget told agency heads to make their senior privacy official a deputy assistant secretary or equivalent position. Agencies also have 60 days to assess the management, structure and operation of the privacy office to ensure its meeting OMB’s expectations. The memo is the third in series of initiatives the White House has embarked upon in 2016 to raise the stature of privacy in government. (Federal News Radio)
The Army’s use of layoffs to draw down troop numbers slowed in the first half of 2016. It said 121 soldiers were let go from January to June 2016. Most were mid-tier enlisted soldiers and lower ranked officers. In the second half of 2015, the Army laid off nearly 500 soldiers mostly with more than 20 years of experience. (Federal News Radio)
The Air Force said it was ready to start training enlisted personnel to fly aircraft, for the first time in its history. The non-commissioned officers will only be allowed to fly unmanned aircraft — in particular, the unarmed Global Hawk. It’s part of a get-well plan designed to relieve stress on an overworked and undermanned force of drone pilots whose work is in high demand by combatant commanders. The Air Force is starting small, only four people will be in the class set to start their training next month, all of whom have worked on the Global Hawk before but haven’t flown it. The next rounds of experimental training will involve airmen with no experience in drone missions. (Federal News Radio)