FAR Council outlaws contractors using whistleblower preventions

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

  • The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council issued five final rules that new procurement and contract regulations. One in particular prohibits deals with contractors who force employees to sign confidentiality agreements that restrict them from reporting waste, fraud and abuse. Agencies also now have more money available for special emergency procurements. The FAR Council raised the special emergency procurement authority from $300,000 to $750,000 within the U.S., and from $1 million to $1.5 million internationally. (Federal Register)
  • The Army joined the Navy in its call for prioritizing readiness if the military budget increases. President-elect Donald Trump has emphasized increasing the size of the Army and the Navy’s fleet. But officials in both services say money for maintenance, training and modernization are needed before their end strength can grow. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House is scheduled to vote today on whether Gen. James Mattis should receive a waiver from the seven-year period retired generals have to wait before becoming Defense secretary. Yesterday, the Senate approved the waiver with a wide, bipartisan majority after Mattis testified for a confirmation hearing in that chamber. Things are likely to be different in the House, where both Republicans and Democrats expressed dismay that President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team had abruptly prohibited Mattis from testifying before the House Armed Services Committee. That hearing was supposed to be about his views on civilian control of the military, before members allowed a waiver to go forward. Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) urged colleagues to vote no, regardless of what they think about Mattis’ qualifications. (Federal News Radio)
  • Another Navy officer received his punishment for involvement in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia scandal. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined over $50,000. He pleaded guilty back in October to having a corrupt relationship with GDMA CEO Leonard Francis, accepting gifts for Navy information. (Department of Justice)
  • For the fourth straight year, the amount of improper payments from the federal government increased. The Government Accountability Office is reporting that agencies exceeded $144 billion in fiscal 2016, up from $137 billion in 2015. The Medicare Fee for Service and the Medicaid programs accounted for the largest amount of improper payments, more than $77 billion combined. This figure could increase as it doesn’t include the Defense Finance and Accounting Services Commercial Pay program as well as 18 other risk-susceptible programs. (Federal News Radio)
  • Some veterans service organizations said they were surprised by President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to nominate David Shulkin as his Veterans Affairs secretary. Shulkin currently serves as VA’s undersecretary for health. Disabled American Veterans Executive Director Garry Augustine said Shulkin will bring continuity and a private sector perspective to the VA. Trump indicated plans to set up a partnership with some private hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department met a key cybersecurity deadline. All major civilian agencies are using the EINSTEIN 3 A cybersecurity tool. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said by the end of 2016 every non-Defense cabinet level department had implemented the advanced intrusion detection and prevention software. DHS said  this means 93 percent of the civilian workforce across 45 agencies is covered by EINSTEIN 3A . Johnson’s announcement means DHS met the Congress mandated deadline of Dec. 18, 2016 for every civilian agency to use EINSTEIN 3A. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • An updated cybersecurity guide is calling on companies to think outside the server room. The newest edition of the National Association of Corporate Directors Cyber-Risk Oversight handbook says the best place to start when fighting cybersecurity is in the board room. The guide encourages communication between the board and company managers, and using federal resources, specifically those offered by the Homeland Security Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • It may be called the Interior Department, but some of its best jobs are outside. In an un-credited blog post, Interior lists what it calls 15 amazing jobs, each illustrated with a stunning photograph. There’s the volcano geologist, walking a grassy Alaskan ridge. There’s a dive ranger handling a giant lobster in California’s Channel Islands National Park. Also depicted, rock climbing, parachuting, hiking and launching drones. Most jobs require bachelors or advanced degrees. (Department of the Interior)

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