‘We the People’ petitions have little effect on federal policy

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

  • A new report shows the White House’s online “We the People” petition platform has not brought much change to federal policy. The Pew Research Center says only three out of the hundreds of thousands of petitions produced federal actions. Only 2 percent of them have reached the required signature requirement to receive a response since the threshold was bumped up to 100,000. (Pew Research Center)
  • President Barack Obama made it official. Federal civilian employees are receiving a 2.1 percent pay raise next year. Obama signed an executive order authorizing the raise. Federal employees can find adjusted salary information and locality pay tables on the Office of Personnel Management’s website. (Federal News Radio)
  • Future Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys are about to get shorter. The Office of Personnel Management published a final rule on HR policy. It shortened the number of mandatory questions on the survey from 45 to 16. Agencies can add their own questions specific to their organization on any given year. Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert said the 2017 survey will not reflect most of the changes though. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is implementing a new civilian evaluation system this spring. Employees should expect to be rated on a three-tiered system and to have more meetings with their supervisors. The system is part of a larger Defense Department initiative to create more communication between employees and supervisors. The first annual appraisals under the new system will start in 2018. (Federal News Radio)
  • A Florida company will pay $4.5 million for defrauding the Air Force in a major IT project at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The Justice Department said the company, Advanced C4 Solutions, was hired to build local and wide-area networking systems at Andrews. But prosecutors allege the firm routinely billed the government for hours its employees never worked, and many of its employees didn’t have the credentials the military demanded in its contract with the company. In addition to the financial settlement, two company officials agreed to plead guilty to violating the false claims act. A third is scheduled for trial in late January. (Department of Justice)
  • As part of a year-end flurry of activity, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute a company that operates red-light cameras for state and local government, including the District of Columbia. The former CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems, a lobbyist, and a Chicago transportation official have already been convicted in a bribes-for-contracts scheme. Justice cited the company’s cooperation with federal investigators and its management reforms. (Department of Justice)
  • An Army colonel received 12 years in prison for receiving and distributing child pornography. Col. Robert Rice, who used to lead the Army’s strategic war gaming division, will concurrently serve a four-year sentence he received from his military trial. He will also have to pay a $5,100 fine and be under supervised release for 10 years. (Department of Justice)
  • Health care systems are becoming an ever more popular target for malicious hackers, according to Trap-X Security. The company reported a 63 percent increase in cyber-attacks against health care institutions in 2016. The number of major attacks reached 93. Banner Health sustained the biggest breach of the year, losing 3.6 million records. Health care providers are required to report breaches to the Department of Health and Human Services. Trap-X warned providers to button up security of medical devices. (Trap-X Security)
  • The Small Business Administration is looking for the best in show. SBA is accepting nominations for the 2017 Small Business Awards.Nominations are due Jan. 10. Last year’s Small Business Person of the Year award went to the owners of Equator Coffees. (Small Business Administration)

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