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A first-ever, agency-wide audit at the Defense Department has started. DoD Comptroller David Norquist said the DoD Office of Inspector General notified him the financial statement audit begins this month. It will cover everything from personnel, to real property, to weapons, to supplies, to bases. More than 2,400 auditors will be needed for the task. (Department of Defense)
Congress has temporarily avoided a government shutdown before the current continuing resolution expires later today. Both the House and Senate passed a two-week continuing resolution. It gives lawmakers until Dec. 22 to come up with a spending deal for the rest of fiscal 2018. The president is expected to sign the new CR. (Federal News Radio)
Congress delaying the threat of a government shutdown isn’t making Defense leaders feel any better. For the time being, lawmakers have not resolved any of the underlying issues behind the budget impasse, leaving the very real possibility that it could still happen later this month. If a shutdown happens, DoD officials said it would closely resemble the one that happened in 2013. All military personnel would continue to work without pay, an unknown number of civilians would be furloughed. In the meantime, officials said the continuing resolution funding the government for now stands as a barrier to key defense priorities and forces the department to waste money. (Federal News Radio)
The Trump administration has asked a judge to delay the requirement that it allow transgender people to start enlisting in the military. A prior ruling ordered it to start allowing transgender personnel to enlist Jan. 1, a ruling the government is now appealing. It’s asking that same judge to delay her previous order while the appeal proceeds. (Associated Press)
Lawmakers seek assurances from the Department of Veterans Affairs about its new electronic health record. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee members pressed the Veterans Affairs Department on its approach to modernizing its electronic health record. VA is planning on moving to the same EHR as DoD over the next 10 years at a cost of $10 billion. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) wants VA to ensure their return on investment materializes after the agency spent $1 billion since 2011 on failed EHR modernization attempts. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) pushed VA to take an iterative approach using commercial software. VA is expected to award the EHR contract this month.
A new branch of the Homeland Security Department will fight back against the world’s most dangerous weapons. DHS announced it’s reorganizing to create the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. It will streamline DHS’ efforts to prevent terrorists and other threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices. James McDonnell, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in June 2017 to serve as the director of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), will lead the office. (Department of Homeland Security)
The Transportation Security Administration may have bitten off more than it can chew with its PreCheck program. A DHS inspector general report found TSA did not properly staff or prepare its adjudication center, which manually processes about 26 percent of PreCheck applicants. The IG said it will need to be more efficient to reach the goal of enrolling 25 million air travelers by the end of 2019. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
The Senate has confirmed two nominees with a potentially big impact on environmental policy. Joseph Balash got the nod as assistant interior secretary for land and minerals management. He’s the former natural resources commissioner in Alaska, where he sought to get 20,000 wildlife refuge acres back from the federal government. Susan Bodine has been confirmed as EPA’s enforcement and compliance chief. Bodine was chief counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and worked for EPA under President George W. Bush. (U.S. Senate)
The Senior Executives Association has honored nearly 300 top federal career leaders with Presidential Rank Awards. About 70 senior executives won distinguished rank awards, and 230 earned distinguished rank awards for both 2016 and 2017. The executives make up a small percentage of the Senior Executive Service. (Federal News Radio)