Military, veterans groups ask Trump to give VA’s McDonald a chance

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

A group of 20 military and veteran organizations asked President-elect Donald Trump consider keeping Bob McDonald on as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. The coalition, which includes the National Military Family Association and the Wounded Warrior Project, said McDonald’s efforts to transform and modernize the agency are showing early signs of success, and...

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

  • A group of 20 military and veteran organizations asked President-elect Donald Trump consider keeping Bob McDonald on as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. The coalition, which includes the National Military Family Association and the Wounded Warrior Project, said McDonald’s efforts to transform and modernize the agency are showing early signs of success, and they should be allowed to continue. (Got Your 6)
  • Speaking of Veterans Affairs Department transformations, the agency granted full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in the three out of the four roles it called for back in May. VA said access to anesthesia care was not a big enough problem for it to grant authority for RNs in that field. They’ll be able to supersede all state restrictions though except ones related to prescribing controlled substances. (Veterans Affairs Department)
  • The Best Places to Work rankings are out from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. There are a few familiar faces at the top. NASA once again raised its score for the fifth consecutive year and sits at the top of large agencies. Overall employee engagement improved slightly in 2016. The governmentwide score sits at 59.4. Other agencies made some major gains. The Agriculture Department was the most improved large agency this year and jumped from 16th to ninth in the rankings. (Federal News Radio)
  • 2016 was a record year for the Justice Department in recovering federal money. DoJ recovered almost $3 billion from Qui Tam or whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act in 2016. New data shows whistleblower lawsuits across federal contractor, the health care and the mortgage industries were responsible for a majority of DoJ wins last year. Justice said it awarded whistleblowers, who are entitled to a percentage of the settlement, $519 million. In all, DoJ brought in $4.7 billion in False Claims Act damages and settlements last year, up from $3.7 billion in 2015. (Department of Justice)
  • Democratic lawmakers said the ceputy commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service told them President-elect Donald Trump must give up his stake in the Washington, D.C. hotel located at the Old Post Office building, to avoid violating the lease agreement. Bit of confusion though, as a spokesperson for GSA said the agency has not reached the deputy commissioner’s conclusion. (Federal News Radio)
  • Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) want more information about a questionnaire Energy Department employees received from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. Reports indicate the team wanted to identify employees and contractors who had participated in international climate talks. The congressmen are worried they are trying to apply an ideological “litmus test” to government employees. (Rep. Frank Pallone)
  • Current and former defense officials are worried the Trump presidency may ruin some of the progress the Defense Department has made on capability building. Former Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michele Flournoy said she fears while funds go to building force structure, programs like the Defense Innovation Unit Experiment may get the ax. (Federal News Radio)
  • Without much fanfare, the Defense Department launched a new experiment in open data. The new site — data.mil — went online this week. It’s a joint venture between the Defense Digital Service and the Pentagon’s deputy chief management officer. The goal, officials said, is to increase the general public’s understanding of the military by opening up massive, unclassified data sets that have been locked inside DoD libraries until now. During the site’s beta phase, it’s only offering a vast database of bombing records through the Vietnam era, but officials hope to eventually use it as a data-sharing platform for any information Defense employees think is valuable to their colleagues, researchers or the general public. (Data.mil)
  • The Obama administration’s Agriculture Department is busy rulemaking to the end. USDA issued three new rules. An officials said they’re designed to protect livestock farmers from unfair practices of meat-packers. The rules sharpen the definitions of unfair practices, make it easier for farmers to receive compensation and overhaul a poultry industry bird-rating system. The rules were first authorized in a 2008 farm bill. The White House said they’re part of the President’s Competition Initiative. (Department of Agriculture)