Agencies could better protect whistleblowers working for contractors

In today's Top Federal Headlines, the Government Accountability Office reviews how well agencies are applying the Whistleblower Protections Pilot Program.

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

  • The Government Accountability Office, in a review of the how agencies are implementing the Whistleblower Protections Pilot Program, uncovered areas where they can better implement the law meant to protect whistleblowers who work for contractors. GAO said agencies aren’t always notifying contractors of their whistleblower protection responsibilities. Also, inspectors general need to make sure they send investigation findings to appropriate entities. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Office of Management Budget Director Mick Mulvaney issued his first memo since taking over the agency. He reminded agencies about the process to coordinate and clear legislative proposals. Mulvaney said agencies should be sure to send OMB any draft legislative proposals, congressional testimonies or responses to letters. He stressed OMB’s role is to resolve any inter-agency issues and ensure the administration speaks with one voice. (The White House)
  • The new Commerce secretary wasted no time in pressing President Donald Trump’s new agenda on career employees. Wilbur Ross, newly sworn in, acknowledged the many long-standing missions when delivering his first speech to the department. These include executing the upcoming 2020 decennial Census count and launching weather satellites. But he reminded employees of the new regulatory rollback, and of how tight budgets will likely be. He challenged Commerce to overtake NASA as the government’s best place to work. (Department of Commerce)
  • The House Small Business Committee wants the Small Business Administration to reduce funds for its Office of the Administrator by 10 percent. The reduction is part of a fiscal 2018 plan to improve agency services to small business. The committee said it will also be conducting more oversight of SBA efforts and reviewing duplicative programs. (Federal News Radio)
  • IT consolidation at one Justice Department bureau has them looking to be more agile. The Drug Enforcement Administration wants to change the way it upgrades and develops software. The DEA issued a sources sought notice asking vendors to provide details on how they would support agile software development. In the request for information, the DEA said it needed help modernizing and consolidating many of its 320 applications running on its classified, unclassified and sensitive networks. The DEA said by using agile it can more quickly adapt to rapidly changing requirements to counter the advancement of technologies being used by drug trafficking organizations. Responses to the RFI are due March 10. (FedBizOpps)
  • A former employee of the Social Security Administration was indicted for her role in a identity theft scheme. According to the Justice Department, Sharon Coffee-Dean stole the identities of 41 people, which she then sold to other individuals who would then use them to file fake tax returns. She faced a maximum penalty of over 20 years for all charges. (Department of Justice)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a companion bill to the accountability legislation House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced earlier this week. The bill lets the Veterans Affairs Department rebuke bonuses or awards to employees who were later found to have committed misconduct. It also allows the VA secretary to cut pensions for employees convicted of felonies. (Sen. Marco Rubio)
  • Some lawmakers are worried about the amount of face time veterans are getting with discharge review boards. If veterans wants their discharge status changed, they must go through a review board. But veterans are rarely granted a personal appearance. The services said their boards are overburdened with cases and more personal appeals will slow the process. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force said it’s setting out on a four-year campaign to turn its airmen into better “joint warfighters.” The initiative is one of three main tasks the service’s new chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, announced last fall shortly after he took office. He said the next big war is likely to be fought in the air, space, cyber, sea and undersea domains all at once, and airmen needed to be able to lead and help integrate military forces in all of the above. The Air Force will start by certifying the command staff of the 9th Air Force as a Joint Task Force, but eventually plans to start teaching joint doctrine to all airmen from the day they enter basic training. (Air Force)

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