VA’s first ‘accountability’ posting shows hundreds fired since Trump inauguration

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has posted its first list of employee removals, suspensions and demotions showing VA has fired 525 staffers since President Trump took office in January. The list, posted on Friday, includes doctors, nurses, housekeepers and even grave diggers. It does not include employee names, due to privacy reasons but does note the employee’s position and VA region.  In announcing the new effort at transparency last week, VA Secretary David Shulkin said veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what VA is doing to hold its 345,000 employees accountable. The so-called “accountability actions” will be posted on a weekly basis. (Veterans Affairs)
  • Brenda Fitzgerald, a public health officer for the state of Georgia, has been named the new director of the Centers for Disease Control. In announcing the selection, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Fitzgerald, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, had all the qualities needed to lead the CDC in protecting America’s health. Fitzgerald, a two-time congressional candidate, has strong ties to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. (HHS)
  • The federal agency responsible for high-risk, high-reward research on behalf of the U.S. intelligence community has issued a solicitation for proposals for new research. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity said it is looking for seedling research ideas not already addressed in ongoing programs. The ideas might include cyber geospatial analytics, detection systems for unique cyber-attack methods, sensor technologies, and autonomous systems. Multiple awards will be given out in the form of grants, procurement contracts, and cooperative agreements.  (FedBizOpps.gov)
  • The Air Force said it is changing a fundamental class for its captains.  It said the squadron officer school will expand from five weeks to six-and-a-half weeks, and will now focus on leadership, multi-domain warfare, and logical and ethical decision making. The change comes after the Air Force Chief of Staff announced a task force to change service squadrons. (Air Force)
  • The House Armed Services Committee said it wants to solidify an increase in early retirement incentive pay for Defense Department civilians. Last year, Congress approved a one-year pilot program that increased the Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay for DoD civilian workers to $40,000. This year, as part of the 2018 defense authorization bill, the House committee said wants to extend that incentive to 2021.  DoD said it uses the retirement incentives to eliminate positions that are in less demand so new positions can be created. (Federal News Radio)
  • The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee said he wants the departing director of the Office of Government Ethics to testify before Congress. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote to the oversight panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), asking him to schedule a hearing with Walter Shaub about the need for stronger ethics regulations.  Shaub, a vocal critic of the way President Trump has handled conflicts of interests with his many businesses, announced last week that he will step down on July 19. (Politico)
  • President Donald Trump’s official portrait, the one posted in the lobbies of 7,000 federal courthouses and buildings across the country, is still nowhere to be found. Typically, taking the new portrait photo is among the first orders of business for a new president. But six months after taking office, the Trump White House has not produced an official photo. Once it does, the Government Publishing Office said it will print the portraits and distribute them via the General Services Administration. (The Hill)