Justice Department creating task force to go after Hurricane Harvey opportunists

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  • The Justice Department has announced the formation of a working group to investigate crimes related to Hurricane Harvey. Several people from federal and state law enforcement agencies will make up the group. They’ll be using lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina to go after those who use natural disasters to take advantage of others. (Department of Justice)
  • President Trump has authorized a 1.9 percent average pay raise for civilian federal employees in 2018. The increase includes an average 1.4 percent base pay raise, plus a locality adjustment averaging .5 percent. Members of the military will get a 2.1 percent raise next year. Specific adjustments for locality area are expected in an executive order by the end of the calendar year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Small Business Administration has increased its temporary workforce to help with the Hurricane Harvey recovery. It has activated a surge staff to add to its office of disaster assistance. The temps will answer phone calls at its customer service center in Buffalo, New York, and also work locally in the Houston area.
  • A Tennessee man has been convicted in an alleged plot to steal military equipment and sell it to buyers in Russia, China and Mexico. A federal jury found John Roberts guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and arms export control violations. Prosecutors said he worked with six soldiers and a civilian employee at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who agreed to provide him with equipment they stole from the base. The gear included more than a million dollars in weapons parts, body armor, helmets, gun sights and other equipment that was later sold on the black market. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force hosted a civilian military workforce summit at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland earlier this week.  The event  was designed to give experts and military leaders a chance to look into changing the way the Air Force hires civilians and evaluates officers. (Air Force)
  • The White House’s American Technology Council (ATC) has called for comments on the latest plan to better secure and modernize federal technology systems. The ATC released its draft plan on Wednesday, building on current efforts to bring government systems and networks up-to-date. The draft proposal included a number of deadlines for agencies to meet over the next year, including timelines for setting up cybersecurity shared services and deciding which applications are ready to migrate to the cloud. Comments on the draft plan are due by September 20. (Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization)
  • OPM chief information officer Dave DeVries has announced his retirement after 35 years with the federal government. But he said is now retiring from public service. DeVries said he will take the job as the new CIO for the State of Michigan.  OPM also announced Rob Leahy as its new acting CIO and Cord Chase as its new acting deputy CIO. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • A political appointee at the Energy Department (DOE) is leaving for different reasons. CNN reports William Bradford, President Trump’s pick to run DOE’s Office of Indian Energy resigns after calls from lawmakers asked him to do so. Following his appointment, multiple media outlets reported on disparaging comments Bradford had made online about former President Obama and his family. Bradford claimed the comments were the result of his social media accounts being hacked, however many of the comments match up with ones Bradford has made publicly. (CNN)
  • Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said they are worried experts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aren’t being allowed to do their jobs. In a letter to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the members cited two recent New York Times articles which said career staff and scientists are being cut out of the regulatory process. They’d like Pruitt to respond to these accusations. (House Energy and Commerce Committee)