Senators want to upgrade TSA

In today's Federal Newscast, bipartisan legislation looks to improve operations and customer experience for the Transportation Security Administration.

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  • Bipartisan legislation aims to improve operations for the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA Modernization Act, introduced by four senators, would establish a five-year term for the TSA administrator and would require the TSA make information on wait times at each airport available online. It also tasks the agency with creating at least four private-sector partnerships to expand PreCheck. (Sen. John Thune)


  • Seventy-six people were converted from political to career positions by the Office of Personnel Management between 2010 and March 2016. Eight agencies account for half of those conversions. The Homeland Security Department converted the most. The Government Accountability Office said it appears agencies followed the laws for converting political appointees. But most cases didn’t have enough evidence. (Government Accountability Office)


  • The Defense Department has pushed back the deadline for its cyber deterrence strategy again. It was originally due in June. DoD said President Donald Trump’s cybersecurity executive order and interagency coordination are the reasons for the delay. DoD is required by law to outline military and nonmilitary options for preventing attacks in cyberspace. (Federal News Radio)


  • The Pentagon is publishing new rules today with major effects on its health insurance system. The changes won’t affect military members, but starting next year, family members and retirees will have to sign up during an open enrollment period for the TRICARE system, if they want to have health coverage the following year. That’s a major departure from past practice — until now, coverage has been automatic. The rules also merge TRICARE’s fee-for-service plans into a new program called TRICARE Standard. Defense officials said those changes will offer more access to medical care, giving 85 percent of its beneficiaries access to in-network coverage. (Federal News Radio)


  • FedRAMP offers a new option for cloud security vendors. Matt Goodrich, director of the FedRAMP program management office, said FedRAMP Tailored is designed for providers with a low-impact software-as-a-service system. The use cases could include communications, project management, and open source code development. The authorization process will take an average of one-or-two months. (Federal News Radio)


  • Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said he will pay for his travel on charter flights taken on government business and pledged to fly commercial from now on. The repayment of over $50,000 covers only the secretary’s seat on the plane. The overall cost of the flight could amount to several hundred thousand dollars and is under investigation. (Associated Press)


  • Some new appointments by President Trump. Diana Furchtgott-Roth has been nominated to be assistant secretary of transportation, research and technology. She previously served as chief economist for the Labor Department. Trump also wants Shon Manasco to be assistant secretary of the Air Force, manpower and reserve affairs. Manasco was executive VP for USAA. (White House)


  • Sometimes what an agency does not do in an emergency is as important as what it does do. The EPA said it will not pursue enforcement of Clean Air Act violations in Puerto Rico for portable electrical generators. Most of the island is without power after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. So the EPA will let smokey, gasoline generators do their thing. Vehicle engines don’t count. Generators must be decommissioned or removed from Puerto Rico by March 31. (Environmental Protection Agency)


  • A faulty database could imperil the 2020 population count. The Census Bureau is coming under fire for planning to use a database from the Social Security Administration that some question whether the information is accurate enough. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)  wrote to Ron Jarmin, the acting director of the Census Bureau, asking for details on how the agency plans to ensure SSA’s Numident database is usable. SSA’s IG and GAO found Numident is problematic because SSA often fails to update it when a person dies and frequently marks living people as deceased. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)


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