Secret Service eases drug policy for applicants, prior marijuana use no longer disqualifies

  • Facing an increasing demand for more agents, the Secret Service is relaxing its drug policy for potential hires. CNN reports that new director Randolph Alles said the agency is facing the need for near unsustainable levels of round-the-clock protective coverage. The new policy said applicants who have used marijuana in the past will no longer be disqualified. (CNN)
  • Senate Democratic leaders have written to President Donald Trump seeking to clarify reports that agencies will only respond to inquiries from congressional committee chairmen. Sixteen ranking members said if the administration is taking this stance, it would be a significant departure from the practices of past administrations and seriously inhibit Congress’ ability to fulfill its duties. Lawmakers said agencies should generally provide information voluntarily in response to congressional requests, especially if these agencies would be required to provide the same information to the general public if requested under the Freedom of Information Act. (Sen. Tom Carper)
  • The Defense Department is focusing on lethality in the way it’s spending money. DoD’s acting acquisition chief said Defense Secretary James Mattis wants all procurements framed in the context of lethality for the current force, contrasting former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s emphasis on future capability investments. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Trump has made a new pick for secretary of the Navy. Richard Spencer currently runs a private equity firm and has spent most of his career in finance. But he has some familiarity with the Defense Department: He served as a junior officer in the Marine Corps in the late ’70s and early ‘80s, and as vice chairman of the Defense Business Board. Philip Bilden, another financier, withdrew his nomination after deciding his financial entanglements were too complicated to take on a government position.
  • A new initiative to stop waste, fraud and abuse within the Veterans Affairs Department has launched. The Seek to Prevent Fraud, Waste and Abuse initiative will consolidate the three separate offices dedicated to the cause into one. VA will also set up a Prevention of Fraud, Waste and Abuse Advisory Committee next month. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Employees with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Military Health System took home the top honors at the 10th annual Innovate IT Awards presented by AFCEA Bethesda. The awards recognize achievements in information technology in civilian agencies defense and industry. Sarah Fahden, verification program chief at USCIS, won the outstanding achievement award for a civilian agency employee. Military Health System CTO Mark Goodge took home the defense version of the award. (AFCEA Bethesda)
  • If you want to become an astronaut, you’ll have to pass muster with this guy. Retired Army Col. Pat Forrester has become the new chief astronaut at NASA. He’s made three space shuttle flights. He replaced Navy Capt. Christopher Cassidy, who returns to the astronaut corps awaiting his next flight assignment. Cassidy had just completed his selection of the newest class of astronauts. Flight Operations Director Brian Kelly appointed Forrester, and calls him a respected and proven leader. (NASA)
  • The IRS website is scheduled to get a makeover starting in August. The agency will begin a series of updates to the site to make it more mobile-friendly and responsive. It’s part of the IRS’ ongoing Future State initiative. The goal is to move more in-person and over-the-phone services to the web. The IRS said the website overhaul will also get the metadata structure needed to support smart technology and artificial intelligence capabilities. (Federal News Radio)
  • The safety of the federal IT supply chain comes under scrutiny. The risks of Chinese-made technology products to the federal government will be the subject of a new report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission issued a request for proposals seeking a vendor to provide research addressing six areas. Among the topics researchers will focus on will be to assess loopholes and other points of vulnerability in the procurement system, whether federal CIOs can assess risk in their ratings of IT products and services, and whether the government’s ability to manage these supply chain risks are adequate enough. (U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission)