‘High-level action’ needed to address harassment complaints at Justice

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  • The Justice Department (DoJ) inspector general  reportedly  called for “high level action” to address the way DoJ handles sexual harassment complaints by employees. The Washington Post reported Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein earlier this year to call his attention to several instances in which high-level officials were accused of harassment or assault with few apparent consequences. Horowitz said Justice supervisors have mishandled complaints, and some perpetrators were given little discipline or even later rewarded with bonuses or performance awards.  At the same time, the report noted the number of allegations of sexual misconduct at DoJ increased over the past five years and that the complaints have involved senior Justice officials across the country. (Washington Post)
  • President Donald Trump signed-off on the 2018 federal pay raise Wednesday, making it official. The presidential memo authorized an average raise of 1.4 %, with an additional  0.5 % adjustment in locality pay for a total of a 1.9 % for federal civilian employees. Uniformed service members will get a 2.4% pay raise.  Although some lawmakers called on the president to continue the tradition of pay parity between the military and civilian work forces, he did not.  But he did grant increases to the Senior Executive Service members, Congress and political appointees. The pay raise takes effect in January. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department (DoD) said the delay in accepting new TRICARE coverage applications is over,  and that the enrollment process is operating once again. Three weeks of planned computer maintenance put a halt to application processing. but DoD said it started processing applications for TRICARE coverage on Tuesday, and that its contractors are now working their way through applications that its beneficiaries filed on paper while the systems were down. Officials said the systems were taken offline in order to prepare for a switch-over of the contractors who manage the TRICARE system. (TRICARE)
  • Three large cities have sued the Defense Department over its failure to report military criminal convictions to national databases. The suit filed by New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco alleged the Pentagon is putting their citizens at risk by not reporting court martials to the system.  The failure was acknowledged by Air Force officials acknowledged after former airman Devin Kelley was able to buy the firearms he used in last month’s massacre at a Texas church. The cities asked a federal judge to order DoD to submit all of its criminal convictions, and put it under court supervision to make sure it continues to do so. Local law enforcement officials rely on the FBI’s database to conduct background checks on gun permit applications and to monitor purchases. It must be up-to-date in order to be effective. (Federal News Radio)
  • The FDA often fails to use its statutory authority to recall dangerous food. Congress gave FDA that authority in 2012.  But the Health and Human Services inspector General reviewed 30 complex food recalls that occurred since. It found several instances in which food companies were slow to initiate recalls, and the FDA was slow to evaluate hazards and to make sure companies really did get bad food off the shelves. The IG recommended tightening up procedures across the board. (HHS/IG)
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) put a finer point on the Centers of Excellence (CoE) initiative drive toward IT modernization across the government. GSA released five requests for quotes under the Professional Services Schedule for phase one of program. GSA said each CoE will provide agencies with consulting and engineering services to improve the way they design services and interact with the customers. GSA said it expects to award one contractor per area under a one-year contract with two one-year options. Bids to each of the RFQs are due Jan. 8 and questions to GSA are due Dec. 29.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The Library of Congress said it is ending its practice of archiving every single public tweet. It said this week it will only acquire tweets “on a very selective basis.” The library said it began archiving tweets back when Twitter began in 2006 “for the same reason it collects other materials – to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people.” The  number of tweets currently in the library’s collection is unknown, but in 2013, it said it had already amassed 170 billion tweets, at a rate of half a billion tweets a day. (Fortune)



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