Amid Price resignation, OMB warns agency leaders; VA becomes more transparent

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  • On the heels of HHS Secretary Tom Price’s resignation over his travel habits, the Office of Management and Budget has reminded agency leaders about what is appropriate when on official travel. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said the White House chief of staff will have to approve all requests for non-commercial airline flights. OMB also is reviewing current travel regulations. (White House)

 

  • Another Cabinet secretary goes for full disclosure of his government-funded travel. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has called on the agency to post a webpage detailing his trips. VA promises to update the page within five days of return. One listing shows Shulkin has taken six official trips on government aircraft since Jan. 20, four on Air Force One. Another was on Air Force Two, and one on a military plane, traveling with first lady Melania Trump. (Department of Veterans Affairs)

 

  • The Veterans Affairs Department will sunset 80 percent of its current IT projects under development — 240 out of 299 current projects will end or get migrated within the next 18 months. Funding for those projects will shift to VA’s new electronic health record. VA Secretary David Shulkin said the department is less than 30 days out from awarding its contract for a new EHR with Cerner Corporation. (Federal News Radio)

 

  • The Defense Health Agency has a lot of work to do before it takes over the management of all of the military’s medical facilities one year from now. Congress ordered the military services to consolidate their treatment facilities under DHA as a single administrator last December, but according to an interim progress report by the Government Accountability Office, several key elements of the new management structure are still missing. DHA is still in the process of recruiting a new senior official to oversee the medical system. The agency also hasn’t yet defined what the new organizational structure will look like or how it will achieve a promised 25 percent reduction in headquarters staff. (Government Accountability Office)

 

  • A DATA Act advocate has departed from public service. The Treasury Department’s Christina Ho, whom many credit for leading the charge for the DATA Act, is leaving government. Ho called the DATA Act implementation the most important thing she’s done in her 24-year career. Amy Edwards, the senior adviser for financial transparency, is temporarily filling Ho’s position. (Federal News Radio)

 

  • First DoD, now the White House is close to finalizing a cyber deterrence strategy. Rob Joyce, the cybersecurity coordinator at the White House, said the administration will discourage cyber attacks against federal networks or the nation’s critical infrastructure through a series of steps. First, the strategy will highlight the ability of the networks and systems to be resilient. Second, the administration will ensure there is a cost, both legal and monetary, should someone attack the nation. The third element of deterrence is through diplomacy and sanctions. And, of course, Joyce said deterrence also means responding to cyber attacks with cyber attacks.

 

  • Senate Democrats want to hear from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), minority members asked for a hearing on the EPA’s fiscal 2018 budget, and for the administrator to testify about the spending plan. Pruitt has testified about his agency’s proposed budget, but not before the Senate committee. (Sen. Tom Carper)

 

  • Congress will try again to boost voluntary separation incentive payments for federal employees. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a bill that would raise VSIPs from $25,000 to $40,000 for federal civilian and defense employees. VSIP payments would also get annual adjustments for inflation. Congress hasn’t touched early buyouts since it authorized these incentives in 2002. (Federal News Radio)

 

  • Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is calling on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to schedule a floor vote on a postal reform bill meant to improve the Postal Service’s financial situation. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed the bill in March. Cummings, the committee’s ranking member, wants action after USPS said it would default on another payment to its federal retirement and retiree health care funds.

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