Agency watchdog to review Trump executive order

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

  • One of President Donald Trump’s most controversial executive actions will be under the scrutiny of an agency watchdog. The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general says it will be reviewing DHS’ implementation of the recent executive order calling for increased vetting of foreign visitors. The IG will also monitor how well DHS follows court orders and any allegations of misconduct by DHS personnel. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
  • Two senior Democratic senators want the inspector general of the General Services Administration to review the Old Post Office lease. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to Carol Ochoa asking for her office to look at the government’s agreement with President Donald Trump’s company, to identify any missteps. GSA awarded it a 60-year, $180 million lease in 2013. The lawmakers say the current circumstances with GSA’s Old Post Office lease requires a thorough review. (Sen. Tom Carper)
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) also wants to know who’s actually in charge at 15 cabinet level agencies during the transition. She said some beachhead teams are overseeing the decision making process at some agencies, instead of career senior executives. Career employees typically lead during transitions until new leaders are confirmed. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • Reps. Michael Quigley (D-Ill.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) say they’ll work together to restore trust in open government. The two say they want more transparency in all three branches. That means getting cameras in more federal courtrooms, including the Supreme Court. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is a step closer to having a new administrator. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee voted along party lines to advance President Donald Trump’s choice of Scott Pruitt. The move required Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to suspend a rule that two members of the minority party be present to hold a vote. Democratic senators chose to boycott the committee meeting. They said Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, hadn’t answered all their questions. (Associated Press)
  • The Office of Personnel Management has one major database with important information left to encrypt. That’s according to the agency’s Chief Information Officer David DeVries. He said encryption should be done by the end of the year. Encryption was a sticking point for some critics after OPM announced that the personally information of the 22 million people impacted by cyber breaches wasn’t protected. (Federal News Radio)
  • Two senators want to make it easier for the Homeland Security Department to bring innovative cybersecurity technologies into the federal environment. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Rapid Innovation Act. The bill would direct the under secretary for science and technology at DHS to support the research, development, testing, evaluation and transition of new cyber technologies in the areas of secure systems, detecting threats in real time and cyber forensics. The bill also extends the department’s authorization to carry out R&D and adds a requirement for DHS to work more closely with industry. (Sen. Mark Warner)
  • We now know what exceptions to the civilian hiring freeze the Defense Department will be making. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work listed 16 separate functions that will be immune to the freeze. The mission areas include positions necessary to enforce treaties and meet DoD’s national security and public safety responsibilities. Work warned combatant commanders and agency heads that they may have to defend their decisions to exempt any individual position, and will definitely need to do so if they wish to grant additional exceptions they feel have critical national security hiring needs. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force said it has sharply reduced a shortage of maintainers, airmen who repair and preserve aircraft. The Air Force was short about 4,000 of them. The service has closed the gap to about 3,400. Officials expect to fill all the positions by 2020. (Federal News Radio)

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