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, because of the increase of drug abuse in American society, the Defense Department will start increasing the number of drugs it screens military recruits for.
The Pentagon has stepped up drug testing requirements for new military recruits. The changes take effect on April 3; officials said they’re mostly a response to increasing levels of prescription medication and heroin abuse within the broader civilian population. New recruits are already tested for several drugs marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. The new tests will also screen for opioids like heroin and oxycodone, plus synthetic marijuana and several types of sedatives. The policy doesn’t impose a permanent ban on drug users — they’re allowed to reapply 90 days after their last failed test. (Department of Defense)
The Senior Executives Association said the president’s hiring freeze, plus the transition and natural attrition are creating a “leadership vacuum” in some agencies. SEA wrote to the heads of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, asking the administration consider giving some vacant positions like chief human capital officers and CIO’s to career senior executives. (Senior Executives Association)
Senior lawmakers have written separate letters to the National Archives and Records Administration and White House asking for details on how the Trump administration is ensuring no record is lost. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) requested answers from archivist David Ferriero about his agency’s contact with the White House and any guidance it provided them. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) followed up by asking the White House about its policies on the use of text messages or other social media platforms to conduct official business and the archiving and record-keeping procedures that go with those policies. (Federal News Radio)
Now 33 House Republicans are calling for a larger defense budget in 2018. In a letter signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the group calls on the House Budget Committee to increase the 2018 defense budget to $640 billion, adding $37 billion to the amount the Trump administration is asking for. (Federal News Radio)
The Office of Government Ethics director said he’s concerned about the White House’s response to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s statements on the first daughter’s fashion line. In a letter to the Deputy Counsel of the President Stefan Passantino, OGE Director Walter Shaub said he’s even more concerned about Passantino’s idea that many OGE regulations do not apply to White House employees. (Office of Government Ethics)
Apprehensions of people illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States have fallen sharply. Customs and Border Protection attributes the February drop in apprehensions, and preventions of crossings, to President Donald Trump’s executive order. The numbers show a 40 percent reduction between January and February. CBP said the numbers usually rise by double digits in the same period. In January the agents apprehended about 32,000 people, and in February about 19,000. (Customs and Border Protection)
The Postal Service is handling 60 percent of government’s equal employment opportunity complaints. The USPS National Equal Employment Opportunity Investigative Services Office has inter-agency agreements with at least 28 departments now. The Postal Service said it takes about 100 days now to resolve an EEO claim, where it previously took 240 days. (Federal News Radio)
New data shows more agencies are using a less risky type of contract. The Obama administration’s goal of pushing acquisition risk to government contractors seems to have paid off. The Government Accountability Office finds the use of firm fixed-price contracts rose to 63 percent of all awards between 2011 and 2015. The Defense Department awarded 67 percent of their procurements as firm fixed price contracts while civilian agencies used this contract type 56 percent of the time. Higher risk contract types like time and materials and cost reimbursement remained constant at around 11-12 percent of all awards. (Government Accountability Office)
A top GSA official is headed for the private sector. Norman Dong, commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at GSA is headed to the Washington D.C.-based Federal City Council. Dong is on loan through the government’s Intergovernmental Personnel Act. He starts April 3. (Federal News Radio)