Secretary Zinke reveals plans for Interior’s future

In today's Federal Newscast, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lays out what he has in mind for reorganizing the Interior Department.

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  • Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke has provided details his vision for the future of the agency. In a videotaped message last week, Zinke said plans call for dividing the country into 13 administrative regions based on the ecosystem and watersheds.  Under the  concept, Interior will manage these regions jointly with fewer decisions coming from individual bureaus or Interior sub-agencies. Zinke said certain administrative functions like budget, personnel, and legal will see few changes. (Department of the Interior)
  • House and Senate Democrats said they want to guarantee federal employees a 3 percent pay raise in 2019. Rep Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill to do so. Similar bills have been put forth in previous years but none have passed. The president is expected to announce his plan for pay in the fiscal 2019 budget, due in February. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Donal Trump has nominated Ken Barbic  to be the  US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) liaison on Capitol Hill.  Barbic formerly served as  Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs for Western Growers, an interest group representing farmers from a handful of western states. (U.S. Department of Agriculuture)
  • Lawmakers have set their sights on banning another technology vendor from federal networks. Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) is leading an effort to prohibit agencies from buying technology from two Chinese telecommunications companies. His Defending U.S. Government Communications Act would effectively ban telecommunications technologies or services from Huawei Technologies Company or ZTE Corporation from being used on federal networks. Conaway introduced the bill last week with five co-sponsors. The legislation comes after Congress investigation into potential ways the Chinese government could infiltrate federal systems since 2012. (
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said it expects only about 40 percent of those callers to taxpayer hotlines his year to actually reach an operator with their questions.  In an annual report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said budget and workforce cuts have put an unnecessary strain on the agency.  She said due to budget cuts, telephone operators will only be able to answer ‘basic’ tax questions. During the last filing season, 77% of callers spoke with a live operator. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) members have found something they can agree on. They have promised a thorough investigation into a false alarm that sent Hawaiians diving under their desks over the weekend. A Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee accidentally triggered the federally-regulated Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. The alarm warned of an incoming missile. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said an early look shows Hawaii officials lacked reasonable safeguards and process controls. Hawaii has already altered its procedures. Now two people are required to launch an alert. (Federal Communication Commission)
  • The Navy said it will start relying on live-firing tests and modeling in hopes of getting weapons on ships quicker. The service said it hopes modeling and simulations will shorten the test and evaluation time for new weapons without compromising safety. The Navy also added it wants to make common combat systems that will fit multiple ships. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said improvements are needed with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) risk management strategy. GAO said not all of VA’s policies include standards set by the Interagency Security Committee. It said VA’s oversight activities for risk management also leave out key aspects of standards created by the Office of Management and Budget. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service said it will hold a kickoff event in Washington on Thursday. The blue ribbon panel in charge of reforming the nation’s Selective Service system will spend the next two years travelling the country, taking input on how to modernize a draft process that hasn’t been used since the 1970s. Congress created the 11-member commission to recommend ways to bolster a national commitment to public service – both in and out of uniform. The temporary federal agency’s final report is due in March of 2020. (Federal News Radio advisory)

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