Agencies team up to increase police protection

In today’s Federal Newscast, three federal agencies launch a new network to quickly relay information about individuals considered a threat to police officers.

The Justice and Homeland Security departments and the Federal Communications Commission are rolling out the National Blue Alert Network nationwide. The new platform promotes rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement, the media and the public about violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured or pose an imminent threat to law enforcement, or when an officer is missing in connection with official duties. DoJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services led this interagency effort to develop the Blue Alert Network. (Department of Justice)

Government Accountability Office chief and Comptroller General Gene Dodaro sends Congress his ideas for a more efficient government, on the eve of the detailed 2018 budget proposal from the Trump administration. He reiterates the need for agencies to rein in improper payments. They cost the government $144 billion a year. (Federal News Radio)

The President’s budget proposal for 2018, to be unveiled this week, is likely to contain changes to federal pay and benefits. Federal employee union leadership worry the proposal may include changes to the way retirement annuities are calculated. It could also ask Federal Employee Retirement System participants to contribute more toward their defined benefit plans. (Federal News Radio)

Taxpayer advocate Nina Olson calls service from the IRS unacceptably low. Olson tells a House Ways and Means subcommittee the poor service stems from inadequate funding. But she also questions the agency’s priorities for the money it does get. For 2018, the White House proposes a cut to the IRS of $239 million. (House Ways and Means Committee)

Veterans Affairs and the Energy departments have formed a partnership Energy Secretary Rick Perry says will help transform health care delivery to veterans. It will combine large data sets from VA’s healthcare activities with Energy’s supercomputers — a kind of big data analytics program. It’s dubbed Champion: Computational Healthy Analytics for Medical Precision to Improve Outcomes Now. VA will pour data from 24 million veterans over two decades into the system, as well as data from the Defense Department and Centers for Disease Control. (Department of Energy)

A large Navy contractor has an idea for how the Navy could save $1.5 billion. Newport News Shipbuilding says build three aircraft carriers simultaneously. A company spokesman says that would cut construction time by two years. Admiral John Richardson, the chief of Naval Operations, is calling for an expanded fleet. The Navy has 275 ships. Richardson thinks it needs three hundred fifty. The Congressional Budget Office estimates getting to that sized fleet would cost $5 billion a year for 30 years.

Fraud and drug diversion top the list of convictions from states’ Medicare programs. That’s according to the Health and Human Services inspector general. The IG  reports 1,564 convictions in 2016. Three out of four concerned fraud. But drug diversion is on the rise. In all, the state units recovered $1.9 billion in criminal and civil settlements. (Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General)

Eric Fanning, Army Secretary under the Obama administration found a new home. Fanning joins the Center for a New American Security’s Board of Advisors. So far he has no successor under the Trump administration. Two nominees withdrew their names before the Senate voted on them. First, financier Vincent Viola, then former Army surgeon Mark Green. (Center for a New American Security)

A group of lawmakers are concerned with another one of EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt’s managerial moves. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with a group of House reps, ask Pruitt for an explanation of why he didn’t renew the terms of nine members of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientific advisory board. Stabenow says members usually serve two terms no matter who is in charge. (Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry)

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