Committee chairs agree, it’s time to reform DHS

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, all of the representatives who chair House committees with jurisdiction over the Homeland Security Department sign an agreement to regularly reauthorize, reform, and improve the agency.

  • All the chairmen of House Committees with jurisdiction over the Homeland Security Department have committed to a plan to regularly reauthorize, reform, and improve DHS. They all signed a memorandum of understanding. They said DHS has not kept pace with evolving threats, and point out the agency has not been reauthorized since it was created in 2002. (House Homeland Security Committee)
  • The Defense Department plans to consolidate the reserve duty statuses from 32 to four in the coming years. Federal News Radio has learned the change would make it easier for reservists to figure out what benefits they receive when following certain orders. It will also cut down on benefit gaps when changing orders. Over 400 laws will need to change to complete the plan, though. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants to boost Defense funding by $430 billion over the next five years. He’s the first senior political leader to lay out what Defense budgets might look like under the military buildup president Trump has proposed. The McCain plan would add tens of thousands of service members in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, while also pushing for weapons systems that target a mix of high-end and low-end adversaries. McCain argued the military’s been weakened by several years of cuts. He said Congress’s first priority in the new administration should be eliminating the Budget Control Act. After that, he said lawmakers need to stop using the military’s overseas contingency operations accounts as a slush fund. (Federal News Radio)
  • Acting Office of Personnel Management Director Beth Cobert said OPM feels like a different place 18 months after two major cyber breaches impacted 22 million people. Cobert said she joined OPM at a tumultuous time, and is leaving the agency with a better reputation and more credibility from its employees, industry partners and members of Congress. This Friday is Cobert’s last day. Chief Management Officer Kathleen McGettigan will lead the agency until the Senate confirms a new director. (Federal News Radio)
  • Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission Edith Ramirez has announced she will be stepping down next month. Ramirez assumed the role of FTC Commissioner in April 2010. FTC brought close to 400 law enforcement actions in the name of consumer protection under her leadership. Her final day will be Feb. 10. (Federal Trade Commission)
  • Government oversight gets a new face. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), is the newest member of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. He represents the 8th district with an estimated 88,000 federal employees. Raskin, a constitutional law professor at American University, said the committee’s work should never undermine the federal workforce. He said federal employees have been unfairly targeted by what he calls baseless and deceptive political attacks. (Bethesda Magazine)
  • The IRS has offered free federal tax filing for qualifying taxpayers. People who made less than $64,000 last year can use Free File. It’s an online IRS resource that links filers with vetted, brand-name online tax preparation software at no cost. In some cases filers could also qualify for free state filing. Filing season officially begins Jan. 23. (IRS)
  • The Justice Department has made progress toward a major deadline for its wireless communications. DoJ completed its plans and designs for a new wireless network. DoJ received $1.1 billion to vacate the 1755-to-1780 megahertz frequency by July 2018. Joe Klimavicz, the Justice CIO, wrote  in a new blog that ATF, DEA, FBI and the Marshals Service are coordinating on the replacement system. Justice is also working with the vendor community to refine requirements, identify candidate technologies and assess market readiness to deploy new wireless technologies on federal spectrum. DoJ is one of 20 agencies needing to relocate from that spectrum in order to open it up for commercial use. (Department of Justice)
  • A jury finds a postal employee guilty of stealing over $2 million in Social Security checks from the mail. The Justice Department said Stacy Darnell Mitchell stole benefit checks while working as a mail handler at the Processing and Distribution Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. He faces a max penalty of 15 years in prison. (Department of Justice)

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