Ethics chief says Trump plan to divest holdings is insufficient

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 government’s top ethics official says President Trump still hasn’t provided sufficient documentation of his plan to divest his business holdings.

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  • The government’s top ethics official said President Trump still hasn’t provide sufficient documentation of his plan to divest his business holdings.  Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub was quoted by Rep.  Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as saying his agency hadn’t received the paperwork finalizing Trump’s arrangements. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump had resigned from his businesses, and that his sons have taken control. Shaub previously called that arrangement “meaningless.”  (House Oversight Committee)
  • President Trump has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to stop issuing grants and contracts.  ProPublica reported it had obtained an e-mail from an EPA contracting officer who said the agency was in a holding pattern. Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute was the Trump team’s EPA transition manager. He tolds ProPublica such a freeze has happened in previous changes of power while the new team gets its bearings. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan group of federal legislators from the D.C. metro region have criticized President Trump’s order Monday freezing federal hiring of non-military civilian workers.  Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) called the freeze  “a mindless way to manage.”  Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said President Trump’s goal of reining in federal spending cannot be done on the backs of the federal workforce. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Government Accountability Office (GAO) studies have shown hiring freezes are a bad idea. He called the president’s statement that a hiring freeze would reduce corruption and  end special interest collusion in Washington “offensive and outrageous.”  (WTOP)
  • Two Democrat senators and four Democrat House members want the General Services Administration to get some answers on conflict of interest questions regarding President Trump and the new Trump Hotel in downtown Washington.   Both sets of lawmakers have sent separate letters to GSA Acting Administrator Tim Horne asking a series of questions about what actions the agency is taking to deal with — what they say — are violations of the contract Trump signed with GSA.  (Federal News Radio)
  • U.S. Cyber Command said it will focus its new direct spending authority on research and development. Congress gave the command the power use $75 million of its own funds to directly buy goods and services in the 2016 Defense Authorization Act. CYBERCOM said it is setting up an acquisition office to handle the money, and that the office would be staffed by interim employees until permanent officials are hired.  (Federal News Radio)
  • President Trump has picked a women to be the next Secretary of the Air Force.  Heather Wilson, currently the president of the South Dakota School of Mines, is the third person the president has nominated to fill Senate-confirmed positions within the Department of Defense.  Wilson is an Air Force veteran who served as a member of Congress from New Mexico, including on the House Armed Services Committee. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office claims it saved the government more than $63 billion in fiscal 2016.  The GAO said its biggest cost savings — more than $24 billion — came from reductions in improper payments in the Medicare Advantage Program. The audit and investigative arm of Congress also said it issued nearly 700 reports and made more than 2,000 new recommendations last fiscal year.  (GAO)
  • The  Homeland Security Department inspector general has told the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service it cannot revert to an old electronic system for processing naturalization applications.  The management warning was issued after USCIS wanted to change processes after two audits highlighted problems with the reliability of a new system used for background checks and case information. The DHS/IG said the old system was too riddled with problems and security concerns to work properly.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The government’s top IT security officer has urged the new Trump administration to double down on some key IT initiatives. Greg Touhill, the former Federal Chief Information Security Officer who recently left his role, offered three recommendations to the Trump administration.  He said the new administration should fix the federal IT architecture,  continue and accelerate the continuous diagnostics and mitigation program, and focus on workforce training and data protection.  (Federal News Radio)
  • Participants in the Thrift Savings Plan should not see any signs of change during the transition to the Trump administration. That’s goal for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers the retirement savings plan for federal employees. Board Executive Director Greg Long told participants not to expect much change from the retirement plan. (Federal News Radio)

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