VA hopes to RAMP up claims review process for vets

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  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the launch of the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), which aims at a more efficient benefit claims review process. The program is voluntary, but the VA said it expects veterans to receive a speedier review of initial claims decisions than the slow and complex legacy process. Under RAMP, VA said a reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or return it for correction. Participants can also submit new evidence and receive VA’s assistance in support of their claim. (Veterans Affairs)


  • The Blue Star Family’s annual military lifestyle survey reported military families feel isolated in their communities and that the feeling has increased. That finding was one of the new revelations to come out of the Blue Star Family’s annual military lifestyle survey. The survey is due to be released on Nov. 15, but Federal News Radio was given exclusive access to parts of the survey. The survey found military-connected people in every ZIP code in America, whether they are active duty, guard or reserve, experienced isolation where they live. (Federal News Radio)


  • The Army and Navy reported they have met their mandate to train and equip service members for the Defense Department’s cyber mission. Both services said Thursday the teams they were assigned to build as part of U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Force have achieved full operational capability. The certifications came a full year ahead of the schedule. The certification means the Army and Navy teams are fully staffed, and that all of the team members have met their training requirements. (Federal News Radio)


  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said he expects Congress to move quickly on a bill he’s cosponsored that would help agencies make better data-driven decisions. The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The legislation would authorize agencies to create a new position: a chief evaluation officer, who would assess the quality and effectiveness of all activities involving evaluation within an agency. (Federal News Radio)


  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is assessing its response to five recent flood and fire disasters. Associate Administrator Dave Grant said drug shortages forced the agency to seek foreign distributors to fill the U.S. supply chain. FEMA initially brought satellite phones to Puerto Rico that only worked in the continental U.S. So it teamed with DoD to obtain iridium phones. Grant said FEMA needs more fungible sources during emergencies. (House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)


  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has cleared the way for expanding the probationary period for new federal employees from one to two years. The Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service (EQUALS) Act now goes to the House floor for debate. Proponents said longer probationary periods would give supervisors a better picture of the performance of new employees. Opponents of the bill said two years is too long for employees to go without full due process rights. (Federal News Radio)


  • Seventeen members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have filed a lawsuit against the General Services Administration, demanding its administrator turn over information related to the Trump Hotel lease in Washingon, D.C. At issue is whether or not President Trump has violated the terms of a $180 million lease with the GSA by not divesting his interest in the property. At a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said, “This lawsuit is not just about a hotel in Washington D.C., this is about the president defying a federal statute.” The Trump administration has 60 days to respond. (Federal News Radio)


  • The General Services Administration has launched a new online “how-to” guide geared toward reviving performance-based contracting within the greater acquisition community. The guide breaks down performance-based service acquisition into eight steps, and provides templates, steps, examples and other resources to make performance-based acquisition more collaborative and team-focused. (GSA)


  • The Census Bureau may have to start over in acquiring mobile devices for the 2020 population count. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled the bureau’s award to CDW-G for mobile device solutions was flawed. AT&T protested the $236 million contract on the basis that Census conducted discussions unfairly with CDW-G and evaluated AT&T’s technical approach unreasonably. GAO upheld the complaint on Thursday. GAO recommends Census reopen the competition and the discussions with all the bidders. (GAO)

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