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The Energy Department is elevating its efforts to oversee and respond to cyber threats against the nation’s critical infrastructure. Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced a new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. The White House included $96 million in funding for the office as part of the 2019 budget request sent to Congress earlier this week. Energy said the new office will protect and enable a more coordinated preparedness and response to natural and man-made threats. (Department of Energy)
The Energy Department gained a new undersecretary and head of a crucial component agency. The Senate confirmed Lisa Gordon-Hagerty as administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. She was president of Tier Tech International, a federal contractor providing consulting in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives terrorism prevention. She’s a health physicist who also worked for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. She worked for the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.
An internal supply chain initiative at the Homeland Security Department is underway. The agency’s top cyber official Jeanette Manfra gave details on it recently at the Brookings Institution. Manfra said the initiative doubles down on DHS’ ongoing work on supply chain security by allocating staff to specifically focus on the issue. Many federal contractors are behind the federal government’s standards for cybersecurity according to security rating company BitSight. A recent report found many companies in the federal supply chain still haven’t implemented the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework.
Margaret Weichert was confirmed as deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget. President Donald Trump nominated Weichert last September. Weichert has been a senior adviser at OMB since her nomination. She comes to the White House after serving as a principal at the management firm Ernst and Young. (Federal News Radio)
Some unworthy employees at the Internal Revenue Service still got cash and time off awards for good performance. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found better screening at the IRS kept more than 80 percent of awards from going to employees who have a history of tax violations criminal misconduct or substance abuse. But the IG reported the IRS gave more than $1.7 million in awards to nearly 2,000 employees with a disciplinary history between fiscal 2016 and 2017. (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee members are not happy with the General Services Administration’s explanation to reverse six years of work and instead build the FBI’s new headquarters on its existing site. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.) told GSA they want a full briefing from the FBI about the decision. GSA told lawmakers changes to the FBI’s requirements for the number of employees in the building led to the new approach. (Federal News Radio)
In October, the military services will be required to start cutting out troops who have been non-deployable for the last year. A new Defense Department memo gave the services the authority to immediately start pushing out medically non-deployable troops as well. Currently, there are more than a quarter of a million non-deployable troops in the military. (Federal News Radio)
A court settlement between the Justice Department and officials in Hawaii revealed local authorities improperly seized vehicles belonging to more than 1,400 service members over the past five years. In at least some of the cases, troops came back from long overseas deployments to find the city of Honolulu had towed their cars for alleged parking violations, and then auctioned them off to new buyers. In the settlement, local officials acknowledged they violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which requires them to obtain a court order before seizing property from an active duty military member. (Department of Justice)
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin agreed to pay back his wife’s travel expenses during their 10-day trip to Europe last summer. The VA Inspector General recommended he pay Treasury more than $4,000 for his wife’s trip. The IG said Shulkin mixed government work with sightseeing. Shulkin said he regrets his decisions have taken attention away from critical veterans issues. (Federal News Radio)
The Veterans Affairs Department is requesting a $198 billion budget in fiscal 2019. That’s a $12 billion boost over the previous year, and an increase of about $7,000 full-time equivalents. The budget also includes $1.2 billion for the implementation of a new electronic health record. VA’s IT shop will also get a boost to help modernize legacy systems and begin implementing a new financial management system. (Federal News Radio)
U.S. Northern Command wants to learn from the last hurricane season. The command is conducting an internal review on best practices and how it can better assist FEMA and states affected by hurricanes. NORTHCOM Commander Gen. Lori Robinson said the review is looking at force structure and if the command has the equipment it needs. (Federal News Radio)