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The Office of Government Ethics reminds federal employees about the oath they take to perform their duties. Acting Director of OGE David Apol said a new report from Transparency International saying corruption is getting worse shouldn’t deter employees from earning the public’s trust. He encouraged them to act solely in the interest of taxpayers and eliminate conflicts of interest. Apol said federal employees hold their positions of trust “for such a time as this.” (Office of Government Ethics)
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt cites security concerns as the reason for higher costs of official travel than his predecessors. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator said a number of confrontations on-board flights led him to travel via first class for work-related trips. Federal regulations allow government travelers to fly business class or first class when there is no other reasonably available option. (Federal News Radio)
A widely-cited report on travel by the Veterans Affairs Secretary shows the importance of separating the official from the personal. Yesterday’s IG report outlined several ethics and travel rules violations in the 11-day, $122,000 trip that included Sec. David Shulkin’s wife. The allegations are vigorously disputed by Shulkin and outside counsel. Still, Inspector General Michael Missal recommended recovering thousands of dollars from Shulkin, and administrative action against others. The July, 2017 trip came after Shulkin reminded VA employees that only quote essential travel should be undertaken. (Federal News Radio)
Acting IRS commissioner David Katter wants to give the agency more authority to hire private-sector cyber talent on a short-term basis. Speaking before the Senate Financial Committee, Katter asked lawmakers to reauthorize the IRS’ streamlined critical pay authority. The expired authority will let the IRS hire private-sector talent on a temporary basis and at a rate higher than the government’s General Service pay scale. (Federal News Radio)
Nominees for the director and deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management are one step closer to confirmation. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee moved both nominations to the full Senate. Nominees Jeff Pon and Michael Rivas have been waiting four months for this vote, as chairman Ron Johnson was waiting for the agency to comply with a subpoena. Johnson had put a hold on the nominations and subpoenaed OPM for more information about a special ruling the agency made back in 2013. A committee spokeswoman said OPM is complying with the subpoena, and Johnson lifted the hold. (Federal News Radio)
Federal IT contractors are about to get some much-anticipated answers about the Defense Department’s latest big push toward cloud computing. The Pentagon announced late yesterday that it will hold an industry day in Arlington, Virginia on March 7. Officials intend to outline the acquisition strategy for the enterprise cloud contract the department’s been planning since last September, when deputy Defense secretary Patrick Shanahan first created the Cloud Enterprise Steering Group and ordered DoD to “accelerate” its adoption of commercial cloud technologies. Defense officials plan to release a draft request for proposals and start accepting formal, written questions from industry on March 7 as well. (Department of Defense)
670 women now hold Army infantry and combat positions. Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Thomas Seamands said these women are integrated at two bases with plans to expand. The military opened combat roles for women in the military in 2013.
The Air Force wants to increase the number of pilots it trains each year from twelve hundred to fourteen hundred. The service hopes the bigger pipeline will help slow the pilot shortage, which currently stands at 2,000. The Air Force previously said it will need to train sixteen hundred pilots a year to stop the shortage. (Federal News Radio)
GSA made the final set of awards under its next mega IT services contract. Eighty-one small businesses won a license to hunt IT services under the Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition contract. The General Services Administration choose these firms to be a part of the $15 billion vehicle. GSA initially announced awards in December, but had to ensure the vendors met federal small business requirements. The agency added four small firms to the award list. These firms still can face a challenge of their small business status. GSA received almost 500 proposals from firms wanting a spot on Alliant 2. Agencies have spent more than $7 billion under the initial Alliant small business GWAC since 2009. (FedBizOpps)
The Interior Department gets $18 million in the president’s 2019 budget request to help start its internal reform efforts. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke detailed the department’s reorganization plan at the end of 2017. Zinke wants to organize and manage the department based on 13 broad regions across the country, organized by watersheds. The goal is to push more decisions out to managers in the field, rather than management in Washington. The department also wants to improve collaboration among its bureaus and subcomponents. (Federal News Radio)
The president’s 2019 budget request also included proposed changes to the Federal Employees Compensation Act or FECA. The program gives benefits to federal workers injured or killed on the job and their survivors. The White House wants to give newly injured workers a single rate compensation— worth two-thirds of their pay. Proposals also included new controls to limit improper payments and fraud. The Trump administration said the FECA program hasn’t gotten an update since 1974. Suggested changes would save $117 million over the next ten years. (White House [pg. 169])