Thousands of VA employees have not undergone required background checks

In today's Federal Newscast, a new inspector general report finds managers at the Veterans Affairs Department are not reviewing background investigations in a t...

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  • The Veterans Affairs Department fell short on an important step in hiring people. VA is employing more than 6,000 medical staff, who have not had required background checks, according to the VA Office of Inspector General. The IG found that managers responsible for reviewing background investigations aren’t doing so, at least not on time. The IG cited the Office of Operations, Security and Preparedness for failing to monitor the program, in part because of its own “lack” of staff. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)
  • Federal employees left their jobs at a higher rate under the first year of the Trump administration than at any other point since 2013. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 468,000 employees separated from their jobs in 2017. Of those, about 189,000 voluntarily quit. That’s an increase of 16 percent compared to 2016. The data also shows that federal hiring has generally been down since President Donald Trump took office. (Federal News Radio)
  • Navy pilots are receiving bigger bonuses for staying in the service. The Navy announced pilots who reenlist for five years will receive up to $35,000 a year extra in bonuses. The bonus program was created to retain pilots as the military services are short of the number they need. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army delivered some details on what it said will be its biggest reorganization since the Vietnam War era. Army officials said the new Futures Command would consolidate some of the functions of the three major commands that currently have a hand in deciding what equipment to buy, how to train soldiers and how to define future warfighting concepts. The goal is to dramatically accelerate the service’s acquisition process. But several key questions are still unanswered, including who will lead the command and where it will be located. The Army plans to narrow down the list of candidate cities to a field of 10 within the next several weeks. It expects to pick a final location by this summer. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Trump administration is getting blow-back from both sides of the aisle after it banned most transgender troops from the military last week. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said she thinks transgender people should be able to serve if they meet the physical requirements. Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) called the ban utterly wrong. (Federal News Radio)
  • Industry concerns about the Defense Department’s approach to soliciting for commercial cloud services rose to a new level. The Professional Services Council offered six recommendations to improve cloud adoption. In a letter to Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, PSC suggested DoD remove specific policy and regulatory barriers that make it harder for the services to adopt cloud computing. Among the current obstacles are rigid cloud security requirements and the use of cloud access points for network defense. (Professional Services Council)
  • Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) hoped to set up a “bug bounty” program at the State Department. The “Hack Your State Department Act” would pay white-hat hackers to report cyber vulnerabilities. Bug bounty programs have already been set up at the Defense Department, the Army and the Air Force. The General Services Administration launched the first civilian agency bug bounty last year. (Rep. Ted Yoho)
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s continued struggles to modernize its technology is drawing the attention of lawmakers. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers said three years after the massive data breach, they remain concerned about OPM’s cybersecurity. Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) wrote to new OPM Director Jeff Pon seeking the latest copy of the agency’s IT Modernization spending plan. The lawmakers also want a briefing by April 3 from OPM on its efforts to modernize its IT. The requests come after OPM’s inspector general found continued problems with the agency’s IT modernization efforts, including a lack of authority for the CIO. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The union that represents employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a wish-list for the agency during the rest of the fiscal year. The American Federation of Government Employees said the agency desperately needs more staff. Members of the public are waiting over an hour to speak to an EEOC representative on the phone and average complaint processing times are over 10 months long. The AFGE EEOC local also recommended the agency hire fewer supervisors. The agency has a ratio of one supervisor per five employees. EEOC got a $15 million budget boost over the previous year in the 2018 omnibus spending package. (American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has a new chief technology officer. Vijay Desai has been with the TSP agency for nearly two weeks. He comes from the Consumer Financial Protection Board. He also worked for Booz Allen Hamilton and Capital One. Desai will oversee the agency’s efforts to improve its score on annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act reports. The TSP got the lowest annual score on its most recent FISMA report. (Federal News Radio)
  • A historic wind storm is to blame for recent down time at the Thrift Savings Plan’s call centers and website. High winds knocked out the power at the TSP’s data center earlier this month. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said it checks the center’s power system and generator supply monthly. But the wind still knocked the TSP website offline for 5 hours on March 2. The agency couldn’t get its call centers up and running until nearly 10 p.m. The Office of Personnel Management closed federal offices in the D.C. area that day. (Federal News Radio)

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