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President Trump named David Kautter to serve as interim leader of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when John Koskinen steps down as commissioner next month. The White House said Kautter will add the new job to his current duties as assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department. The administration said Kautter’s new role will also include working to push tax legislation expected to be released next week. Koskinen, an Obama appointee, has long been a target of Republicans on Capitol Hill for his role in the IRS’s handling of Tea Party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. (The Hill)
The House passed the Senate’s version of the 2018 budget resolution by a slim margin (216-212). The resolution contained some good news for federal employees – it doesn’t include threatened cuts to their retirement system. House lawmakers originally included $32 billion in retirement cuts in their version of the resolution. But the Senate didn’t go along, and House leaders ultimately decided to adopt the Senate version. (Federal News Radio)
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it has found several federal agencies continue to struggle with security issues. GAO said the Forest Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the Agricultural Research Service do not meet federal standards on assessing facility security. GAO found inconsistencies in how the agencies considered threats, risks , and vulnerabilities in their building management. (GAO)
President Trump signed federal whistleblower protections into law. Under the law, agencies will be required to report to the Office of Special Counsel any suicides by employees who make protected disclosures. It also toughened penalties for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers…and gives protected employees priority if they request a transfer. The law was named for Chris Kirkpatrick, a Veterans Affairs psychologist who made public unsafe practices at the Tomah, Wisconsin medical center. He was fired, then committed suicide. (The White House)
The White House filled a key agency technology position with a familiar face. In a press release, it said John Zangardi is leaving as the Defense Department’s acting CIO to become the new CIO at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Zangardi will replace Richard Starolopi, who resigned unexpectedly in August after three months on the job. Zangardi was first named as DoD’s principal deputy CIO in October 2016, and later became the department’s acting CIO. He also had been the acting CIO for the Department of the Navy. (Federal News Radio)
The military’s Exchange system said it expects to boost annual revenue by $200 million a year when it opens its online storefronts to veterans a few weeks from now. The exchanges, which until now have only served active duty service members, retirees, and their families, will open for tax-free online shopping by all honorably-discharged veterans on Nov. 11. It said veterans have to go through an online verification process to prove their prior military service. According to the Army-Air Force Exchange Service, about 225,000 out of the 18.5 million veterans who are eligible have done that already. Officials estimate about $10 million dollars of the new annual revenues will go to fund quality of life programs for troops and their families.(DoD)
Dozens of service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses have won a spot on the
$5 billion, government-wide acquisition contract known as VETS 2. The General Services Administration announced the awards to 72 businesses on Thursday. Under the five-year contract, agencies will be able to buy a variety of IT services from these firms, ranging from software development to cybersecurity.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported many of its lowest rated hospitals are not improving. A VA release of internal rankings showed nearly a dozen medical centers who received low marks for quality last year, remain low this year. On that list are three veteran’s hospitals in Tennessee where it said threats to patient safety have “skyrocketed.” Also on the list is the VA hospital in Phoenix, where dying vets waiting for care touched off a national scandal. (USA Today)
The General Services Administration created an open source guide on emerging service-applicable technologies, such as Blockchain and artificial intelligence. GAO said the U.S. Emerging Citizen Technology Atlas is designed to support government agencies in their efforts to implement these tools. The tool contains cases, reports, program references and resources resulting from collaborations between the U.S. government and the private sector. (ExecutiveGov.com)
IRS looks to reverse ‘bad decision-making’ with updated management practices