Pair of House Dems want federal employees to know their rights

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, two Democratic congressmen publish a resource guide to show federal employees how to safely speak out against potential or real wrongdoings.

  • Two Democrat lawmakers have reminded federal employees about their rights to speak out against real or potential wrongdoings. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) released a resource guide explaining how feds can safely and responsibly share information with auditors and the press. Beyer and Lieu said they are issuing this information in response to the Trump administration’s purported communications blackout. (Rep. Ted Lieu)
  • A group of federal employees have petitioned the White House to change the Thrift Savings Plan. The employees want TSP policy to allow feds to make four free inter-fund transfers per month, while always allowing a last free IFT into the G Fund. Current policy allows for two transfers per month. The petition needs at least 100,000 signatures for the White House to consider it. (White House Petitions)
  • The Army has begun implementing an upgrade to its ammunition management system. The Defense Department said the Standard Army Ammunition System’s new development will significantly improve its defense against cyber-attacks, as well as provide more transparency for ammunition managers, and make it easier to operate in. Officials said the system was due for a boost since its last enhancement of this magnitude was almost 20 years ago. The new version is adapting cloud based computing which will allow monitors to see who is on the network in near real time. The process began last month and should be completed sometime in July. (Department of Defense)
  • The latest report on official time at the Veterans Affairs Department has Congress asking bigger questions about unions’ roles in agency operations. The Government Accountability Office said at least 340 VA employees spent 100 percent of their working hours on official time. Some of those employees are VA doctors and nurses. Some lawmakers said this isn’t reasonable, since many of the department’s 45,000 vacancies are in medical positions. (Federal News Radio)
  • Homeland Security Department watchdogs said the agency needs to improve its management of people, information technology and financial systems. Auditors with the Government Accountability Office said employee morale needs a boost, while the DHS Inspector General tells a congressional committee, the agency is still using uncertified computer networks. (Federal News Radio)
  • April may be a pivotal month for the House Armed Services Committee. Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) is demanding appropriators give 2017 funds to the Defense Department by the first of April. Thornberry also said he will release his 2018 defense acquisition reform provisions that month. Thornberry said he doesn’t believe a year-long continuing resolution will pass the House this time around. (Federal News Radio)
  • A better, faster way to secure certain cloud services will soon be available. Obtaining approval for low-risk cloud computing services is about to get easier. The Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program or FedRAMP released for public comment yesterday the draft requirements for a new process called FedRAMP tailored. The new approach is a risk-based review focusing on small scale cloud applications that assist the government in doing business, but do not directly impact the government’s mission. FedRAMP lists six questions where the answer has to be yes for tailored to apply. Comments on the FedRAMP Tailored approach are due by March 31. (General Services Administration)
  • President Donald Trump has nominated Florida law school dean Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary. Trump moved quickly after his first choice, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination two days ago. Acosta is a former assistant attorney general for civil rights and has served on the the National Labor Relations Board. (Associated Press)
  • Four weeks since inauguration, the Senate confirms President Trump’s choice of budget director. Mick Mulvaney has been sworn in as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, following a 51-49 vote. On the Republican side, John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted no. Mulvaney was a House member from South Carolina. He’ll be critical to the administration’s 2018 budget submission. Trump’s cabinet also filled out more with the confirmation of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA. (Federal News Radio)