Bill to enhance Congress’ oversight of agencies passes House

In today's Federal Newscast, a bill to give congressional committees more tools in making agencies comply with subpoenas gets through its first legislative hurd...

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  • A bill to enhance congressional authority over agencies has passed the House. The Congressional Compliance and Enforcement Act will let committees have a three-judge panel quickly review when an agency fails to comply with a subpoena. Agencies who cite legal privilege as a reason for not complying would also have to tell committees what they are withholding. (Rep. Darrell Issa)


  • The agency that administers the Thrift Savings Plan said its response times will likely slow down. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is taking extra precaution to validate TSP participants’ identities after the Equifax breach. Existing plans to improve the agency’s IT and cybersecurity posture will also slow down processing times. (Federal News Radio)


  • More than 500 people took hardship withdrawals from the Thrift Savings Plan in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and 473 people withdrew from the TSP after Hurricane Irma. Overall, fewer participants withdrew from the TSP in August. Hardship withdrawals were down 12 percent in the month. (Federal News Radio)


  • People living on military bases may not know if they are drinking contaminated water. A Government Accountability Office report found the Defense Department does not have complete data on contaminated drinking water. About 3 million people get their water from DoD facilities. The data available showed DoD-treated water was 89 percent non-contaminated. (Government Accountability Office)


  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wants to know how the Defense Department is trying to reduce its audit backlog. Last year, DoD failed to complete 14,000 audits of contractors to ensure they fulfilled their obligations. McCaskill said the incomplete audits increase the risk of improper payments. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)


  • The Defense Department has finished the first phase of its rollout of a new electronic health record. The system, called MHS Genesis, went into use at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state over the weekend, marking the first time the new EHR has been deployed at a large military hospital. The $4.3 billion system is based on a commercial-off-the-shelf health record developed by Cerner. This weekend’s deployment at Madigan marks the completion of DoD’s initial deployment plans at four medical facilities in the Pacific Northwest before it’s rolled out worldwide over the next several years. The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced plans to adopt the same system.


  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is finally taking a step into the cloud. After a critical inspector general report in June saying the agency was slow to adopt the cloud, the NRC awarded a $3.2 million contract to move its high-performance computing operations and applications to the cloud. NRC hired Unisys under a seven-year contract, using the Interior Department’s foundation cloud hosting contract to make the task order award. The IG said the agency lacked a short-term vision and was too conservative to take advantage of the new and emerging technologies. (Unisys)


  • U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services has toughened its policy on non-immigrant work visas. Director L. Francis Cissna replaced the policy in place since 2004 for people living permanently outside the United States, but who want to work here. Now, when they apply for an extension of their visa, immigration officers must give them the same level of scrutiny as for their initial application, even if nothing’s changed. Before, officers could defer to a previously approved petition. USCIS said its goal is protecting American workers. (U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services)


  • Scott Pruitt is set to become the first EPA Administrator to receive a 24/7 security detail. CNN reports the beefing up of security is due to an increase of threats against the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s hiring a dozen more agents, whose salaries could cost it about $2 million. It’s also enhancing security for Pruitt’s office at EPA headquarters in D.C. (CNN)

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