IG: VA’s Real-Time Location System being mismanaged with lack of oversight

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  • The system the Veterans Affairs Department wants to use for automating certain medical procedures and tracking and monitoring medical supplies is plagued with mismanagement, according to the agency’s inspector general. The IG said the Veterans Health Administration’s Real-Time Location System failed to comply with VA oversight and management policy. After spending over $400 million, it recommended VA reconsider whether RTLS is a worthwhile investment. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)


  • More than $2 billion in emergency funding for the Veterans Choice Program will be included in a continuing resolution for civilian agencies. It’ll be the third time Congress approves a short-term funding fix for the Choice Program this year. The CR would hold current funding for civilian agencies through Jan. 19, and fund the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year. The House Veterans Affairs Committee passed a new bill that overhauls the VA Choice Program. But lawmakers said they don’t have enough time before the year ends to pass a full-fledged solution. (Federal News Radio)


  • More than $230 billion from the Defense Department went towards minority and women-owned businesses between 2010 and 2016. An analysis by the Government Accountability Office said though DoD’s contracts to these businesses went down 12 percent over time, the overall number of contract obligations also decreased by 27 percent. The review is mandated by the 2017 Defense Authorization Act. (Government Accountability Office)


  • Lawmakers and military analysts agree service members are stretched too thin by overseas engagements and readiness issues. House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said one of the most important issues in 2018 will be end-strength. Smith said it’s dangerous to tell the military go grow without giving it the proper resources. House Armed Services Ranking Member Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said sexual misconduct and misbehavior are issues that will be highlighted in the military in 2018. Speier said too many service members have suffered in the military and the academies. (Federal News Radio)


  • A Senate panel has rejected President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Export-Import Bank. Two Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee sealed former Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-N.J.) fate. Garrett voted to close the Ex-Im Bank when serving in Congress, a factor his detractors said would make it hard for him to reform and operate it. (Associated Press)


  • To speed up the nomination process, the Senate Rules Committee is considering a proposal to cut down on debate time requirements. A proposal from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) would reduce debate time for most executive branch nominees from 30 hours to eight, and from 30 to two for district court nominees. Debates for Cabinet-level and Supreme Court nominees would remain at 30 hours. (Sen. James Lankford)


  • A big voice for good government has joined the calls for full staffing at the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Project on Government Oversight said the lack of a quorum not only delays decisions on cases, it also blocks the release of crucial research. POGO said, in particular, an update to MSPB’s 1995 report on sexual harassment in the federal workplace has been bottled up. POGO cited the case of Alyssa Bermudez versus the Transportation Security Administration in urging President Donald Trump to make MSPB nominations. (Project on Government Oversight)


  • The Education Department’s Federal Student Financial Aid program faces questions about its data security again. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to Education officials asking them to take immediate action to better secure data submitted through the free online application. He wants Education to move to a multi-factor authentication process for students and parents. Education came under fire earlier this year when the IRS shut down the data retrieval tool on FAFSA.gov after hackers obtained personal data and filed fraudulent tax returns. (Sen. Ron Wyden)


  • The WannaCry cyber attack pushed the Deparment of Homeland Security to be more proactive in defending federal and private sector networks. DHS wants to identify potential cyber threats before they reach the general public. Jeannette Manfra, the assistant secretary for cybersecurity at DHS, said the agency wants to be more proactive in intervening directly with companies when necessary. She said that means working with internet and managed services providers before the malware gets to the broader public. Manfra said the WannaCry attack earlier this year demonstrated the need to become more aggressive in how DHS works with the private sector. The White House yesterday attributed that attack to North Korea. (White House)

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