Government settles Secret Service discrimination case

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, after a 16-year battle, the federal government has agreed to pay a $24 million settlement in a discrimination case against the Secret Service.

  • After a 16-year legal battle, the federal government has agreed to pay a $24 million settlement in a discrimination case against the Secret Service. The suit was brought by African-American Secret Service agents, who claimed they were denied promotions to higher positions. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the settlement was “simply the right thing to do.”  (Homeland Security Department)
  • The Air Force has set its priority for hiring people who can take care of aircraft and weapons systems, if it can get funds from Congress to expand. The Air Force is short 4,000 maintainers and has been forced to hire private contractors to fill positions. The service’s top priority is cyber and space personnel. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) had another productive year in 2016. MSPB  wrapped up nearly all furlough appeals cases. But outgoing MSPB Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann said the budget and potential legislative changes could challenge the agency in the future. Grundmann resigned Jan. 7. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy credited 21 federal agencies for having awarded 340 projects to reduce the government’s consumption. Christina Goldfuss, director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the agencies will save $8 billion over the next 18 years. Projects cover everything from light bulbs to new heating and air conditioning. (Dept  of Energy)
  • The outgoing Securities and Exchange Commission Chair has blasted Congress for harming the agency with partisan, political games. According to Fortune Magazine, Mary Jo White has urged the Trump Administration to ensure the regulator remains insulated from political pressures. White said SEC’s independence will ensure it can best serve investors and markets. White complains too much of her time in office was largely spent trying to complete a lengthy list of rules required by Republican lawmakers.  (SEC)
  • The Department of Homeland Security has proposed new rules to expand security and privacy requirements for contractors. The rules address the Office of Management and Budget’s requirements for safeguarding government data — specifically information that is unclassified, but considered sensitive. The rules also aim to improve incident reporting. (Federal Register)
  • Lawmakers want answers about key cyber efforts at the Department of Homeland Security. Three major cyber initiatives run by the DHS have come under scrutiny from House lawmakers. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want DHS to provide an update on the implementation status of the EINSTEIN 3A and the continuous diagnostics and mitigation programs as well as the automated indicator sharing initiative. The committee also wants details about the programs’ acquisition efforts since 2013 as well as for the yet to be awarded DOMino contract. Among the committee’s concerns are how the vendors are mitigating risks of foreign ownership and control. (House Oversight Committee)
  • A federal judge won’t block the Army from launching a full environmental study of the Dakota Access pipeline’s disputed crossing under a reservoir in North Dakota. The study could take two years. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners sought to block the study so it could lay pipe under the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which opposes the project. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to approve the nomination of retired Gen. James Mattis as the next Secretary of Defense. The vote was a bit unusual in its timing, because Mattis hasn’t been formally nominated as secretary, and preceded Donald Trump’s inauguration.  The Senate wanted to speed the process along and proceed directly to a floor vote, making Mattis the new secretary immediately on Friday. Senate staffers said there is a precedent for this – Donald Rumsfeld also got the go-ahead from the Armed Services committee before president George W. Bush was sworn in in 2001.  (WTOP)