USPTO: Yes, we do have a director

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

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirmed Michelle Lee is still currently its director. IP Watchdog said it was in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request made by a technology lawyer. He made the request because there has been no official announcement from USPTO, the Commerce Department or the White House of who was in charge. (IP Watchdog)
  • President Donald Trump signed an executive order telling agencies to identify wasteful spending and potential areas for improvement. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called it the beginning of a long overdue reorganization of the federal government. The final order gives agencies 180 days to submit a plan for reorganization to the Office of Management and Budget. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy asked senior commanders for long-term plans to develop and retain it’s civilian workforce. The directive follows the civilian workforce framework Adm. John Richardson, the chief of Naval operations, issued last October. By the end of June, commanders will have to turn in their own strategies on matters ranging from employee engagement to senior civilian leadership development and recruiting. The order tells commanders to take the long view, emphasizing that they’ll need to identify the civilian skills and headcounts they’ll need over the next five to eight years.
  • The Office of Personnel Management granted three additional exemptions to President Donald Trump’s temporary hiring freeze. Administrative law judges and hearing support staff, along with processing employees at the Social Security Administration recently received exemptions. General managers at the U.S. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board are also exempted. These exemptions fall outside of the scope of the Trump administration’s initial implementation guidance for the federal hiring freeze. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Justice Department is giving agencies a self-assessment toolkit for its Freedom of Information offices. Melanie Pustay, director of DOJ’s Office of Information Policy, said the toolkit will be a series of question and answer modules, that cover areas like customer service and website development. Pustay said the toolkit would be available later this year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma was approved by a 55 to 43 Senate vote. She’ll serve under Dr. Tom Price who is Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, many senior political appointee positions at HHS are still not filled. (Associated Press)
  • The White House is going on the offensive in the battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act. President Donald Trump held a listening session to hear from people negatively affected by the ACA. This comes as the Congressional Budget Office gave the replacement plan a bad score. For more ammo, the White House asked its email recipients to share what it calls their Obamacare disaster stories. Senders must supply full names, email addresses and ZIP codes. (The White House)
  • A bipartisan bill in the Senate would expand the Defense Department’s scholarship program for students who wanted degrees in cybersecurity fields. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced the legislation. It would authorize DoD’s program to receive $10 million in fiscal 2018 and expand opportunities for community college students. (Sen. Tim Kaine)
  • Industry data will help develop new a strategy for a major cyber effort. The General Services Administration and the Homeland Security Department sent more signals of how they would move forward with the continuous diagnostics and mitigation program after that initial contract expires in August 2018. GSA issued a request for information to GSA Alliant Small Business contract holders. The RFI asks small firms to provide details of how they would support seven broad CDM capabilities. These include maintaining current CDM products and services, and integrating and operating agency dashboards. Responses to the RFI are due March 16.

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