Conflict of interest, slow payouts among issues with DoJ’s administering of 9/11 victims fund

In today's Federal Newscast, the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General conducts an audit to see how well DoJ is handling the Sept. 11 Victim Compensa...

  • A potential conflict of interest was just one of the many issues found with the Justice Department’s administering of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. An audit from DoJ’s IG found one of the attorneys overseeing the fund was able to negotiate about $3.6 million in contracts with her own law firm. The IG also found the VCF was slow to make payouts to victims. The Justice Department says it has resolved many of the funds issues. (Department of Justice Office of Inspector General)
  • A second round of reassignments for senior executives at the Interior Department is likely. Multiple sources told Federal News Radio another round may come as early as September. Interior is finalizing its reorganization plan for the White House next month. Some Interior senior execs said they’ve been kept in the dark about the details of the agency’s plans. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has reassigned between 10-to-15 percent of its senior executive workforce as part of its reorganization effort. David Eagles, HUD’s chief operating officer, told Federal News Radio the agency doesn’t expect to reassign many others. He said the goal is to empower employees to work across mission areas to serve citizens more effectively. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House has begun to roll out its 2019 priorities ahead of agency budget proposals. Its Office of Science and Technology Policy outlined five priority areas for 2019. In OSTP’s annual memo to agencies, it detailed research and development goals, such as creating technology with both a military and civilian use. The administration wants agencies to invest in R&D to increase the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical threats and cyber-attacks. The memo also told agencies to be sure not to duplicate existing R&D efforts and maximize interagency coordination. (White House)
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants the Office of Personnel Management to explain why members of Congress and their staff continue to receive an employer contribution toward their health coverage. He sent a letter to Acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan asking for documents explaining a 2013 exemption from the Affordable Care Act that allows the employer contribution. Former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) held up the confirmation of former Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert for not answering questions about the exemption. Johnson’s letter asks for a response by Aug. 31. (Federal News Radio)
  • With the IRS losing a portion of its workforce, it must utilize automated systems like its Federal Payment Levy Program better. The FPLP is used to collect delinquent taxes from government contractors, but the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found many agencies can’t use it because the IRS didn’t update its selection processes. It missed out on collecting around $1.1 million. (Department of Treasury)
  • How’s this for a fraud scheme? Convincing small companies that for a fee, a federal agency would bypass procurement rules. A Florida man has gotten four years in prison and must pay $600,000  in restitution. His telemarketing operation, called Government Contract Registry, got $500 from each of more than 1,200 companies, convincing them they’d be on a no-bid vendor list. Michael Pirolo faked a FEMA form, then re-entered data to invoke an official email to the victims. (Department of Justice)
  • The Air Force has announced its new headquarters organization, which will manage its space missions, will get started Monday. The new “A-11” office will be made up of 43 military members and civilian personnel. It will be in charge of advocating for space capabilities in the Air Force budget and making sure they meet military commanders’ demands. (Air Force)
  • The Navy said it plans to fire the three officers commanding a destroyer which collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the 7th fleet’s chief, has relieved of duty the U.S.S. Fitzgerald’s Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and the ship’s executive officer and command master chief. The Navy hasn’t yet provided details on what it believes went wrong, other than the bridge crew lost situational awareness. Another dozen crew members are expected to receive nonjudicial punishment. The accident killed seven sailors. (Federal News Radio)

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