EPA may need to rein in employees texting

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 Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general says agency managers to need to put in guidelines for employees’ use of texting so they don’t violate the rules.

  • A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general says agency managers need to rein in employees communicating via text messaging. Though the IG did not find any instances of employees using texts to bypass the Federal Records Act, it did say employees do need to be notified that all work-related text messages need to be available for Freedom of Information Act searches. The IG also recommended EPA develop a policy to help retain messages when mobile devices are replaced, and to tell employees not to change text message retention settings on them. (Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General)
  • Federal employees in two new locations will see a pay bump in 2018. The President’s Pay Agent approved a recommendation to establish two new locality pay areas, one in Burlington, Vermont and another in Virginia Beach. The Federal Salary Council first made the recommendation back in 2015. But the pay agent once again decided against changing the criteria for making such decisions on locality pay.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department wants the House VA Committee to repeal the restrictions Congress put on the agency’s awards and incentives spending. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said compared to last year, the agency would have to reduce its spending on them by 20 percent this year, because Congress included the cuts in a bill it passed. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • A new mobile app for policy wonks is here. The Office of Management and Budget is putting all the information you would ever want to know about regulatory actions in the palm of your hand. OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, yesterday launched a new mobile version of its RegInfo.gov website. The app is available for both iPhones and Android phones. It lets users more easily find information about the status of federal regulations and information collection requests. Users also can view information about OIRA’s pending and concluded reviews of significant rulemakings. (White House)
  • President-elect Donald Trump has announced Carl Icahn as the special advisor to the President for regulatory reform. Icahn is an 80-year-old billionaire investor, who is most noted for fighting Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Trump has promised to overhaul business regulations in the United States during his tenure as president. Icahn is currently on Trump’s transition team. (President Trump Transition Team)
  • The Federal Acquisitions Regulatory Council has finalized two rules that were years in the making. The council issues a rule requiring prime contractors to notify agencies in writing if they pay a reduced price to a small business subcontractor or if payment is more than 90 days overdue. This rule implements a provision in the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act.The FAR council also releases a final rule requiring contractors to provide employees with privacy training. This new regulation comes five years after the council issued a proposed rule. (Federal Register)
  • The Defense Department is spending $80 million to help create a bio-fabrication manufacturing innovation hub in Manchester, New Hampshire. The institute is the seventh DoD lead manufacturing institute in the United States. It will push inventive ways of fusing biology research with computer science, engineering, materials science and manufacturing practices. Other institutes focus on 3D printing, textiles and flexible electronics. (Department of Defense)
  • Ground has been broken on the largest military solar energy project in the northeast. Air Force officials said the 98-acre solar farm at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will include more than 50,000 solar panels. It will produce more than 21,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy, enough to power more than 2,500 homes. It’s expected to be finished in 2017. (Air Force)
  • The Air Force’s chief of staff said he plans to ask the next Congress to significantly expand his service over the next few years. Gen. David Goldfein said the next Air Force budget will ask lawmakers to add more than 30,000 airmen to its ranks — taking it from a force of 317,000 today to about 350,000 by the early 2020s. Goldfein said the drawdown of the past decade has meant the Air Force got too small, too quickly. He made the remarks in an interview with U.S.A. Today. The service had already been planning some modest growth during its final budget of the Obama administration, but so far, it had only asked for about 4,000 additional personnel. (USA Today)