Legislation aims to improve TSA accountability

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

  • Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of Transportation Security Administration employee misconduct. It requires a senior official to oversee the review of disciplinary actions given when a TSA agent misbehaves. It’s in response to recent security breaches at JFK airport. (Rep. Scott Perry)
  • Another House representative wants to limit the amount of official time employees at the Veterans Affairs Department can use. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) introduced the VETS Protection Act. Employees in direct patient care positions could spend no more than 25 percent of work hours on official time. Doctors could spend no time doing union business. All VA employees could spend no more than half their work hours on official time. (Federal News Radio)
  • Three senators introduced a bill to help with a big federal hiring binge. Your agency might be under a hiring freeze, but the Trump administration wants to hire 5,000 border patrol agents. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) offered legislation to help speed up those hires. It would waive what Flake called onerous and duplicative lie detector tests for experienced applicants. (Sen. Jeff Flake)
  • The General Services Administration decided to hold off announcing where the new FBI headquarters is going, until Congress gives the agency the money it needs to continue with the project. GSA was originally scheduled to announce the location this month. The more than $1 billion headquarters is planned for one of three locations in either Maryland or Virginia. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon is reportedly close to naming a new undersecretary for policy. Officials told the Associated Press they expeced the Trump administration to formally nominate Anne Patterson soon. She’s a career diplomat who last served as the assistant secretary of State for near eastern affairs, but the White House has been slow to sign onto her nomination, which was requested by Defense Secretary James Mattis. If she is formally nominated, she’d be the first Defense official during the Trump presidency to undergo a confirmation hearing besides Mattis himself. For now, many of the Pentagon’s top leadership roles are being filled by acting officials and others “performing the duties” of key positions, including the secretaries of all three military departments and each of the five undersecretary posts. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Marine Corps is creating a new expeditionary force to focus on cyber, electronic and information warfare. Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, the Corps’ deputy commandant for programs and resources, said the force is part of a force growth authorized by the 2017 defense authorization act. It is still waiting on funding from defense appropriators. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Donald Trump’s rumored plan to cut $1.3 billion to the Coast Guard is facing criticism. The Navy League of the United States denounced the proposed 14 percent cut to the branch, saying it would have a devastating impact on the service and undermine national security. It also reminded Trump how much work the Coast Guard does to maintain border security.
  • New data shows just how far agencies have come with cybersecurity over the last two years. Agency efforts to secure their networks and data since the massive breach the Office of Personnel experienced in 2015 seem to be making a difference. The fiscal 2016 Federal Information Security Management Act report to Congress shows the focus over the last two years by the Obama administration increased federal defenses and the skillsets of the workforce. OMB said in the FISMA report agencies hired 7,500 cyber and IT workers. The report also says agency defenses are stronger against malware and phishing attacks. (Federal News Radio)
  • Mohan Nirala, a former imagery scientist for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was sentenced to a year in prison for taking home Secret and Top Secret documents. Last year, FBI agents found over 500 pages of classified documents during a search of his home. Nirala also lied about hiding the documents at his house. (Department of Justice)