House passes enhancement to Whistleblower Protections Act

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, the Follow the Rules Act gets through the House. The legislation tidies up a few loopholes in laws protecting whistleblowers at federal agencies.

  • The Follow the Rules Act passes in the House. The bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), clarifies a stipulation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. It would protect employees who refuse to obey an order which would require them to break the law from retaliation. (Rep. Gerry Connolly)
  • The Homeland Security Department gets an additional $1.5 billion for border wall activities in fiscal 2017. It’s about half of what President Donald Trump originally proposed in his budget amendment. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration wanted to fund maintenance and technology on the existing wall. He said those are activities DHS can do now in the remaining months of the year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The budget agreement lawmakers arrived at over the weekend includes a 2.1 percent pay raise for both military members and Defense civilians. For military members, the 2.1 percent raise would keep pace with the cost of living adjustments the federal government is supposed to plan for. It’s higher than the 1.6 percent increase the Obama administration proposed. The civilian raise is not paid for in the bill itself, but congressional appropriators said there’s enough money in DoD’s existing budget to accomplish the increase because of the pay freeze that’s been in effect since the start of the Trump administration. The agreement also slows the troop reductions that have been ongoing since the start of the Budget Control Act. Overall, it pays for 22,000 more servicemembers than DoD first proposed in its 2017 budget. (Federal News Radio)
  • A group of eight senators would like Defense Secretary Mattis to find money in next year’s defense budget for three new littoral combat ships. Military.com reports the senators want Mattis to keep to the LCS requirement in the Navy’s December 2016 Force Structure Assessment. The four states represented by the lawmakers all have close ties to the LCS program. (Military.com)
  • Prior to the Marine nude photo sharing scandal making headlines, thousands of military members complained about the issue in an anonymous Defense Department survey on sexual assault and harassment. The Pentagon said nearly 6,200 military members claimed sexually explicit photos of them were taken or shared against their will by someone from work, with women making up the majority. The recently passed omnibus spending bill includes $18 million for “consulting services to include assistance to the Commandant of the Marine Corps” to address the recent nude photo sharing scandal. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is sending more help to tackle legacy IT challenges. President Donald Trump has created a second office to focus on federal IT modernization efforts. First, the president in March established the Office of American Innovation to bring in private-sector expertise to help the government tackle tough technology problems. Now, Trump is complimenting OAI with the American Technology Council. In an executive order signed yesterday, Trump said ATC will focus on three main areas, including coordinating the vision, strategy and direction for the government’s use of IT and the delivery of digital services. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Energy Department could take a lesson from other agencies using data analytics to prevent fraud. A new Government Accountability Office report said DOE’s approach to managing fraud and improper payments is severely limited. GAO recommends the agency establish new review policies using best practices including data analytics and requiring contractors keep better records. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A former defense contractor gets five years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy and paying illegal gratuities to a government official, resulting in more than $53 million in government contracts. Justice officials said John Wilkerson plead guilty to conspiring with others to steer government contracts at Joint Base Andrews to companies affiliated with him. (Department of Justice)
  • A small FDA gesture provides evidence of the Trump administration’s approach to federal rulemaking. It was the delay of a menu display rule that drew praise from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. FDA held back on strict and highly detailed rules for how chain restaurants displayed nutrition information for their offerings. The rule encompassed grocery stores and movie theaters. Price promises FDA will find ways to make the labeling less costly and burdensome while promoting public health. (Department of Health and Human Services)

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