Wave of retirements could hurt DoJ’s future

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 Justice Department’s inspector general says DoJ’s unique retirement benefits could create a major staffing shortage in the next few years.

  • Staffing may become a major issue for the Justice Department in the coming years. The agency’s inspector general has laid out DoJ’s top management challenges in its annual report. The IG said as of 2014, 31 percent of Justice’s career employees were eligible to retire by 2019. It’s a tough issue for DoJ, as its law enforcement agents are able to retire at age 50 after 20 years of service. (Department of Justice Office of Inspector General)
  • An update from the Office of Government Ethics on the guidelines for federal employees accepting gifts. Feds can still accept a gift from an outside source if it’s under $20. But OGE wants employees to think about whether accepting that gift would raise questions of their integrity or impartiality. Feds will also need written permission from their agencies before accepting free attendance to a conference or event. It’s the first time the rules have been changed in about 25 years.  (Federal News Radio)
  • A new bill from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) forces agencies to think about what positions and contracts need a security clearance. The Senate passed the Security Clearance Accountability Reform and Enhancement Act. It also bans federal contractors and employees who have compromised the integrity of past background checks from investigations in the future. Tester proposed a similar version of this bill back in 2013. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • The Senate has also cleared a bill to require the Homeland Security Department to take a look at the nation’s northern border. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-N.D.) bill calls for DHS to conduct a threat analysis of potential threats and ways to improve security at the border. It also looks to improve cooperation between federal and local law enforcement. (Sen. Heidi Heitkamp)
  • Congress has jumped into a growing dispute among the military leadership. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called on Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper to appear. He wants to know if it’s true the pair last month urged President Obama to fire National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers as reported in the Washington Post. Rogers is under consideration for a Trump administration post. (Federal News Radio)
  • President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is reaching out to the Pentagon after some accused the team of dragging its feet. The first briefings between the team and the Pentagon took place Friday. The transition team will release a list of names on the transition’s landing team, who will work with Pentagon officials. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will do everything his can to make the transition seamless.
  • The Defense Department said it’s saved tens of millions of dollars in the past year by consolidating the various agencies that used to run IT functions within the five walls of the Pentagon itself. The $36 million in savings is about double what officials hoped to achieve when they first set up the Joint Service Provider, pushing the headquarters of all the military services to share one IT infrastructure. One early benefit: the JSP has already used the savings to install a Wi-Fi network throughout most of the Pentagon, giving employees the ability to roam from their desks and stay connected. That’s especially important in a building that’s impenetrable to most outside wireless signals, including cell phones. (Federal News Radio)
  • Bad news for OPM’s year-long cyber improvement efforts. The Office of Personnel Management is getting an A for effort from its auditors around cybersecurity, but many of the challenges detailed after the massive breach still remain. OPM’s inspector general issued a new report last week highlighting an assortment of long-standing problems. The IG said OPM still has 18 systems without an authority to operate. It slipped backwards in having a security management structure that satisifies auditors. And the majority of OPM systems contain Plan of Action and Milestones that are over 120 days overdue. (Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General)
  • Legal woes continue for the Small Business Administration. The American Small Business League appealed a judge’s motion to dismiss its lawsuit against the SBA and the way it reports federal small business contracts. This comes after a federal judge threw out the lawsuit in October. (Federal News Radio)

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