White House defends new way of identifying Navy personnel

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

  • The White House is defending its decision to change the way Navy personnel are named. The branch announced in September it would be scrapping the centuries old tradition of identifying naval members by their job specialty or “Rating.” Instead, sailors would be addressed by their rank, similar to other armed forces. In a response to a We The People petition opposing the change, the administration said this would help service members transitioning to the private sector since the titles would be easier to recognize. The petitioners said being known by your job title was a sense of pride for sailors. (The White House)
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) stepped in as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s top Democratic member for the 115th Congress. McCaskill replaces Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) who will be serving as the ranking member of the Environmental and Public Works Committee. (Sen. Claire McCaskill)
  • Some lawmakers aren’t thrilled that the Office of Personnel Management plans to cut the number of questions it includes on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. House Oversight and Government Reform leadership wrote to OPM acting Director Beth Cobert, saying those questions often inform their work on the committee. OPM’s proposal would cut the number of questions from 45 to 11. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The congressional staffer who was arrested back in August for failing to file tax returns pleaded guilty to the charge. While working for Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) from 2008 to 2013, Issac Avant failed to file any income tax returns according to the Justice Department. He’ll be sentenced in January and faces up to a year in prison. (Department of Justice)
  • A new survey found more than 4,000 cases of utility outages on U.S. military bases over the past six years, mostly because of aging infrastructure. The data came from the Government Accountability Office, which asked each of the military services for information on electric, water and communications failures since 2009. GAO concluded the total cost of those disruptions was about $29 million. Military officials blamed most of them on deteriorating on-base utility systems that date back at least to the 1940s or 1950s. But GAO said the survey doesn’t paint the full picture — nearly half of the DoD officials it surveyed weren’t even tracking outages at the installation level. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The leader of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental hopes that his organization will last into the Trump administration. Raj Shah said innovation is a nonpartisan issue and the military will need rapid acquisition hubs like DIUx. Some Republicans do not share Shah’s opinion. Lawmakers are skeptical of the office and want more oversight over its work. (Federal News Radio)
  • An external auditor gave NASA a clean audit opinion for the sixth consecutive year, saying the agency’s financial statements fairly present its financial standing. NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski said the opinion reflects NASA’s commitment to “effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars.” (NASA)
  • NASA’s continued cybersecurity problems forced a high level meeting. Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, met with Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services CEO, in October to discuss how the two organizations can fix long-standing cybersecurity challenges. A NASA spokeswoman confirmed to Federal News Radio that the meeting focused on agency IT security, NASA and HPES’s partnership and the delivery of services. The meeting came after two Federal News Radio stories highlighting major cybersecurity problems with NASA’s $2.5 billion contract with HP-ES called ACES. (Federal News Radio)
  • The U.S. Postal Service posted a $5.6 billion net loss for fiscal 2016. This despite increasing revenue for the year by 2.3 percent Postmaster General Megan Brennan urges Congress to pass postal reform legislation in the months remaining until President-elect Donald Trump takes over. (Federal News Radio)

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