No more official portraits of high level politicians

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  • They will be no more paintings of high-level politicians. President Trump has signed a bill banning federal funds from being used for portraits of cabinet members, the president, and the vice president. The Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting, or EGO Act, comes after a 2013 report showing agencies spent more than $100,000 on official portraits since 2010. (Congress.gov)
  • The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has created a new Chief Integrity Officer to manage oversight, improvement, and overall integrity strategy, in all 15 federal feeding programs administered by FNS. FNS has also initiated an independent, third-party review of its integrity efforts across all nutrition programs to help identify process improvements and areas where best practices could help. (Food and Nutrition Service)
  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has named two people to head up what he calls departmental priorities. Daniel Best will becomes senior adviser for drug pricing reform. He will attempt to tackle rising prescription drug prices. HHS described him as an expert in Medicare Part D and in the pharmaceutical landscape. Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, adds the job of senior advisor for mental health and opioid policy. He’s a former defense science office director at DARPA. (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • The government’s top CIO has lauded the federal workforce for its diversity.  Federal CIO Suzette Kent said 40% of all CFO Act agency chief information officers are women,  well above the industry average of about 16%.  Kent said she wants to make sure the agencies continue to lead when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the technology sector. Speaking at the CIO Council’s Women in Federal IT and Cyber event Thursday, Kent said she plans to continue to drive diversity through the way the government approaches design of modern services. She said she will ensure different perspectives are included from the beginning.
  • Leadership on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has called on  the Government Accountability Office to look at possible time and attendance abuses at all agencies. GAO last looked at the issue back in 2003. Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said GAO should look into how modern technology can impact time and attendance best practices. GAO has been tracking time and attendance abuses at the Patent and Trademark Office for two years. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) also signed the letter. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • Eight former regional directors of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) have warned the agency’s current plan to close two regional offices would be a blow to the agency’s efficiency and mission. The former directors wrote  to the leadership on the House and Senate oversight committees, saying FLRA has already lost a lot of staff and office space in recent years. FLRA says closing the Boston and Dallas regional offices would impact 16 employees. Authority members must vote before closing any regional office. (Federal News Radio)
  • The president’s decision to appoint Robert Wilkie as the acting head of Veterans Affairs reportedly leaves a major leadership gap in the Defense Department’s personnel shop. The Pentagon said it has not yet decided who will fill the role of undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness – even on an acting basis. Defense officials initially said the role would be filled by Tony Kurta, who had been the office’s acting principal deputy, but later retracted that. Kurta’s nomination to take the number two personnel job has been stalled in the Senate since last November, and he’s since been reassigned as a “special assistant” within the office. With Wilkie’s departure, all five of the Senate-confirmed positions within Personnel and Readiness are now vacant.
  • If you get an email from a recruiter from CSRA, you may want to double check it. The government contractorhas warned potential job-seekers that scammers are posing as company executives, to solicit applications for jobs at CSRA. They’re looking to get their hands on personal information from victims. CSRA says it would never ask for banking information during the interview process. (WTOP)
  • A historic launch for NASA is coming this summer. The agency will send Parker Solar Probe on a trip closer to the sun than any spacecraft in history to study the sun’s corona, an area of superhot plasma surrounding it. It’ll also investigate the sun’s solar winds, which impact the Earth’s magnetic fields. Crews at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are boxing up the probe. This Sunday, they’ll send it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it’ll launch July 31. (Federal News Radio)

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