Multiple agency leaders agree to speed up reviews of infrastructure projects

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  • The Trump administration is moving to streamline federal approval of infrastructure projects. The “One Federal Decision” memorandum of understanding was signed by the secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security. The memo established a lead federal agency for a given project, to guide it through the entire bureaucracy. It will commit agencies to developing a single environmental impact statement and establishing a single record of decision, all in the interest of faster final decisions. (White House)
  • Multiple sources told Federal News Radio the Trump administration is considering moving the entire governmentwide security clearance program. The idea would shift it from the Office of Personnel Management and National Background Investigations Bureau back to the Defense Department. The details of the transfer are still unclear though. Sources also told Federal News Radio, the administration is considering a move of another OPM program. The administration wants to move HR Solutions from OPM to the General Services Administration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The top Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee asked about NASA’s protections for whistleblowers. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) cited a report by the Government Accountability Office which found several issues with NASA’s whistleblower review process. GAO reported NASA failed to review whistleblower retaliation cases within a required 30-day window. In a letter to the acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot, McCaskill asked how the agency will implement the GAO’s recommendations. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • Air Force Lieutenant General David Thompson took over as the first Air Force Space Command vice commander. Thompson will report directly to Air Force Space Command chief General Jay Raymond and also coordinate with Air Force headquarters. The Air Force will put a large emphasis on space in the 2019 budget. (Air Force)
  • Airmen in the Air Force Reserve who asked to leave the service will have to wait six more months to do so. A memo signed by Air Force Reserve chief Maryanne Miller barred reservists who voluntarily asked to leave the service or be reassigned, for half a year in order to help staff occupations in need of personnel. The order holds onto the reservists from April 1 to Sept. 30. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Coast Guard says it’s planning to join the Defense Department’s multibillion dollar plan to buy a new electronic health record. The system — MHS Genesis — will eventually be installed in dozens of Coast Guard clinics and ship-board sickbays. The Coast Guard said it’s too early to say how much the EHR adoption will cost, or when it will start to implement it, but officials said it’s the best choice, in part, because thousands of its members are already treated in DoD facilities. For now, the Coast Guard will rely entirely on paper records, because of an earlier, failed effort to buy an EHR on its own. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department urged Congress to find a solution to VA Choice Program “once and for all.” Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said it’s time to fix the program by merging all of the department’s separate community care programs into one. Wilkie cited the Phoenix wait time scandal in his statement. Just last week, VA issued another release denouncing concerns that the agency would move in the direction of privatized care. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • VA set up a new centralized printing and mailing process system to correspond with veterans about their benefits. The Centralized Benefits Communications Management program was established last month. Now all 56 VBA regional officers will submit benefits letters electronically to one central location for printing and distribution. Each VA benefits office in the past handled its own mailing and printing needs. The VA said the new program will free up more time for claims representatives to work veterans’ claims. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • HHS is looking for a few, good data scientists. The Department of HeaIdeaLablth and Human Services’ IdeaLab is recruiting agency employees to learn how to analyze and make sense of huge amounts of data. The Data Science-Co-Lab aims to build a community of HHS employees to be data scientists who continuously learn from experts and from each other. The 8-week program will require employees to commit to 16 hours a week to accomplish the 15 courses and capstone project. There is no cost to apply to join the Data Science Co-Lab, but employees will need their manager’s approval. (Department of Health and Human Services)